Archive for August 14, 2012
RAKE'S TAKE BY GREG RAKESTRAW
Sports Journal Monthly Columnist
Pardon me if I have Colts, or at least Colt on the brain. For the last 10 days, that's all I've covered, thought about, or talked about – even though it's two different entities, two different sports and in two different parts of the state.
While the Sports Journal focuses primarily on high school and college sports in the Kokomo/Howard County region, you also get your fill of racing, especially during the summer months. Maybe this fall, and with my presence here, you're also likely to get a larger dose of pro football talk. After being removed from covering the Indianapolis Colts for four years since my full-time radio days, I have the new honor of hosting the post-game show on the Vectren Radio Network statewide, and in Central Indiana on 1070 The Fan.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to cover Super Bowls, Indy 500s, Final Fours, and dozens of IHSAA state championship events. And while I previously covered the Colts on a nearly daily basis from 2000-2008, this time I'll be receiving a paycheck with a horseshoe on it. It's a dream for any broadcaster to work for a major sports team. I'll get to work with a great friend in Barry Krauss, and every Sunday I get to follow a broadcasting legend in this state, Bob Lamey.
So with that, it was out to Anderson University, a place I hadn't visited in well over a decade. In fact, the last time I covered a Colts camp it was at Rose-Hulman University and Peyton Manning was there, as was Tony Dungy, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, etc. It is certainly a startlingly new era for the Colts. Of the 90 players on the training camp roster, 50 of those players were not part of the 2-14 disaster of 2011.
While so much attention, and understandably so, is focused on Andrew Luck, when you step back and look at the team as a whole, you'll see a team brimming with energy. New additions Corey Redding and Tom Zbikowski bring some of that Baltimore swagger with them to this Colts defense. Some think that this year could rival last season in terms of victories, others like myself think that this team will improve throughout the year and surprise some people down the stretch. I may not be as optimistic as team owner Jim Irsay, who was quoted on the opening day of camp as saying he'd like to see his team “be in the playoff conversation come December.” But, I definitely believe that this team is back on the right course.
Fans, you'll love the enthusiasm of new head coach Chuck Pagano and you'll see the great quarterback traits installed in Andrew Luck by Bruce Arians. Arians played a crucial role in Peyton Manning's development in his early days in Indy. He just left an outstanding tenure as Ben Roethlisberger's guide in Pittsburgh. You'll see vets like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, and Antoine Bethea remain to steer this team back towards the greatness we all enjoyed from 2003-2009, a 12-win per season run that the NFL has never seen before. We may not see it here again in Indy, but I still think this team is already back on the way up and will surprise some teams this year.
Not all of my "Colt" thoughts are limited to the Indianapolis “Colts.” For the last four days I've been stationed at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette as Tippecanoe County plays host for a 40th consecutive year to the Colt World Series. This is a championship for 15 and 16 year olds and has seen numerous major leaguers play in this park during their younger days. Two area teams, the Lafayette All-Stars and Hoosier North, are representing the area with over 10 high schools represented on those rosters.
Also in this tournament are youngsters from Puerto Rico, Mexico, South Korea, Germany, and four additional teams representing the United States. It's a great week of baseball, not to mention memories that will last a lifetime for these kids. The championship game isn't until Thursday night, so you still have time to make the short drive across SR26 to take in some baseball. Hopefully, the Lafayette All-Stars will be in that game, if not a semi-final game tonight. While you're here, it's also never a bad thing to walk out past left field to pick up some Arni's or Original Frozen Custard. Two things I've checked off my list already with a few days to spare in the tourney.
So, in one week, I've been able to go to watching every throw of the No. 1 draft pick who we all hope will be the face of our NFL franchise for the next 15 years, to young baseball players who happen to be 15-16 years-old. It's one of the reasons why we're so lucky to be sports fans in this state, and why I'm so lucky to have the chance to chronicle their stories. Talk with you next month.
(Greg Rakestraw is vice president of Hometown Sports Indiana. His familiar voice can also be heard on the IHSAA Champions Network, NCAA.com, and on ESPN 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis, where he hosts the Sunday morning “The Golf Connection.” He is the primary fill-in host for The Dan Dakich Show and The Ride with JMV. His column appears monthly in the Sports Journal.)
BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. - In April, Ball State University athletics scored a major win – not on the football field or basketball courts – but in the front office. Much like the university did when it hired football coach Pete Lembo from a non-Mid-American Conference school, the athletic director position was filled from outside the conference. And the Cardinals did not settle for any small school administrator. Instead, they hired University of Notre Dame Deputy Director of Athletics Bill Scholl.
“It was great to get the call from Ball State,” he said during a visit to Kokomo. “I am looking forward to a great and long-term relationship with the school.”
The 1979 Irish graduate arrived at BSU after a 22-year career at Notre Dame and has extensive experience in marketing as well as being a football administrator. One of his major duties at Notre Dame was overseeing the Rockne Heritage Fund – the first-ever athletics annual fund that directly benefits student-athlete grant-in-aid scholarships. He also served as senior associate athletics director where he was the director for marketing and was executive director of the Notre Dame Monogram Club, an organization of Notre Dame student-athletes, student managers and cheerleaders who have earned monograms at Notre Dame.
In addition, Scholl oversaw all aspects of the athletics ticket office, including ticketing, parking, staffing, systems and customer relations. His previous sport administration duties included providing supervision for the men's soccer as well as assisting the director of athletics with the men's basketball program. He also served as director of financial development for the 1987 International Summer Special Olympic Games. Scholl served in the same position for one year at South Bend's Logan Center which offers services to persons with developmental disabilities.
And now he brings that wealth of experience to Muncie and the Cardinals athletics program – and he said he was already knee deep in work. But before he talked about the department, he talked Cardinals football.
“I got here in time to watch some spring football and liked what I saw,” he said. “I am really excited to see how we look despite the tough schedule – and that is something we will work on in the future. Last year was a great turn-around year and the guys are really excited.”
He said as far as the department is concerned, it wants to put the athletes first – and he liked what he saw in exit interviews from previous letter-winners.
“I went back and read some exit interviews (of our student-athletes) and they have been having good experiences,” said Scholl. “I hope that doesn’t change, but I hope we can make those experiences even better.”
He said one of the ways to make the program better is in the win-loss column – and that in-turn puts more smiles on student-athletes faces.
“I think the MAC and other conference’s judge you on your overall play and we haven’t fared very well lately,” he said. “And we would like to see us moving towards the upper-half, if not the top, of the MAC in as many sports as possible. I think fielding successful teams is a critical piece of where we go.
“Now, that being said, we have to match resources to expectations. We can’t just wish for it, and we will be spending a lot of time acquiring the resources to make our facilities better.”
He also talked about his coaching staff, and on first glance, he likes what he sees.
“I think we have a great group of coaches,” said Scholl. “They are a key piece to this whole equation and I think we are in good shape for the most part. We just need to give them the tools necessary to succeed.”
And that relates to one of the major reasons Ball State hired Scholl – his sports marketing background.
“I have a background in forming corporate partnerships,” he said. “I think creating and developing revenue streams is something that the big schools are very good at. I think that is a very transferable skill that I have and can bring to Ball State. I have also seen collegiate programs at the absolute highest level – and I know there is more to a program than just wishing for something. You have to make a commitment, and I hope I have the ability to show people what it takes to get there.”
Ball State’s hiring of Bill Scholl appears be a big step in the right direction as the Cardinals athletic program moves towards being the “it” athletic program of the MAC and other mid-major conferences. Chirp! Chirp!