After a rough 3-9 season, Ball State head coach Pete Lembo is leaving the Cardinals to become an assistant coach at Maryland under new coach D.J. Durkin, according to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman. This is the 26th job opening of the season, but only the second current opening, along with Texas State.
Lembo is the second head MAC coach in the past calendar year to leave for an assistant job in a power conference. Former Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos left to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas this season.
Lembo was hired by Ball State, taking over a team that had gone 4-8 the season before. In his first year, the Cardinals went 6-6, before rapidly improving to 9-3 the next year (with a loss in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl) and 10-2 in 2013, finishing one game behind Northern Illinois for the division crown. Offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky, who was on Lembo's staff at Elon, left after the season to take the head coaching job with the Phoenix.
Lembo led the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl appearances for only the second team in school history -- the only other time being the Brady Hoke/Nate Davis years of 2007 and 2008. However, the team tailed off the past two seasons, going 5-7 and 3-9.
Lembo got his start in the coaching business as a grad assistant at Albany from 1992 to '93. From '94 to '97, he spent two years as an assistant coach with Dartmouth and one season on the staff at Hampden-Sydney, a Division III school in Virginia. He moved on to Lehigh in 1998, and after two years as an assistant, Lembo was promoted to head coach in 2001.
In four years leading the Mountain Hawks, he compiled a 44-14 overall record and took his team to he NCAA Division I-AA playoffs twice. His best year was his first, when Lehigh went 11-1, including a perfect 7-0 in Patriot League play, and lost in the I-AA quarterfinals. In 2006, Lembo moved on to Elon, where he put up a 35-22 mark in five seasons. The Phoenix advanced to the renamed FCS playoffs once in his tenure, falling in the first round in 2009.