Senior College Football Columnist

Pete Lembo highest-paid in MAC after new 5-year deal at Ball State

Pete Lembo has established Ball State as one of the top programs in the MAC. (USATSI)
Pete Lembo has established Ball State as one of the top programs in the MAC. (USATSI)

Pete Lembo has agreed to a new five-year deal with Ball State, a source told CBS. The deal is expected to make the 43-year-old Lembo the highest-paid coach in the MAC, rivaling the deal Frank Solich has with Ohio. Lembo's new agreement will also include some program and facility enhancement, according to the source.

Lembo took over a Ball State program that was 6-18 the previous two seasons before he'd arrived. BSU went 6-6 in his debut season and has gone 19-7 since, including a 10-3 mark in 2013. The program managed just two winning seasons in the 14 before Lembo arrived in Muncie. He also led Ball State to the highest APR in school history.

Prior to Lembo taking over at Ball State, BSU was 1-23 against teams from AQ (automatic qualifier) conferences. Since then, the Cardinals are 4-3 after dominating Virginia at UVA, 48-27 last October. His teams also notched wins over Big Ten and Big East programs. Lembo's 2013 team was a prime example of the coach's substance-over-style perspective. The team's starting tailback, Jahwan Edwards, had only Division II offers and followed the staff from Elon to BSU. The junior has run for over 2500 in the past two seasons. Many of the players starting for Lembo's team only had one FBS offer -- from Ball State. BSU also started former walk-ons at center, middle linebacker and slot receiver.

At Elon, his previous stop, the program had gone 14-42 he five seasons before he arrived and he led them to a 35-22 record, including winning seasons in his last four seasons there. His record at Lehigh before that: 44-14.

Bruce Feldman is a senior writer for and college football commentator for CBS Sports Network. He is a New York Times Bestselling author, who has written books including Swing Your Sword, Meat Market and Cane Mutiny. Prior to joining CBS, Feldman spent 17 years at ESPN.
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