Love to coach while finishing degree

Dante Love might never play football again, but that's not going to stop the former Ball State receiver from coaching.

Coach Stan Parrish said Love, who suffered a spinal injury last season, would join the Cardinals' coaching staff as a volunteer student assistant in the fall as he finishes his undergraduate degree. Parrish said he plans to hire Love as a graduate assistant next spring.

"He indicated that he might want to coach, I presented it to him and he liked the idea, so I think it was kind of a conglomeration of both of us," Parrish said Tuesday. "He's going to decide when he graduates if coaching is what he wants. If not, he might look at something else. I don't want to push him into this and I think he's got a real open mind right now."

Love suffered a cervical spine fracture last Sept. 20 against Indiana and was temporarily paralyzed. Although Love was able to gain the use of his extremities, doctors told him he'd never play football again. Still, his relationship with the team never wavered; in fact, former coach Brady Hoke and then-offensive coordinator Parrish encouraged it.

Love rejoined Ball State prior to its game against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 25, and as the weeks went on he began to work with the receivers during practices and helping the coaches from the press box during games.

"I think coaching last year helped him emotionally come back more than anything," Parrish said. "He got back out there around the kids and sitting up in the press box with us during the games. It reconnected him to football in a positive light after a very negative experience, obviously.

"So, I think it was part of the emotional healing process for him and I really think being around the guys and feeling the real attachment we had to him really helped him."

Love will work almost exclusively with receivers this fall, Parrish said. Love, who was the Cardinals' top receiver, has provided tips to the younger players and has a knack for explaining nuances of the offense in simpler language than some of the other coaches. On game day, he will be in the press box relaying what he sees on the field to coaches on the sideline.

Parrish said the next year will be a trial run for Love and that if he wants to continue coaching, he'll move up the ranks of the staff as he gains more experience.

"I think he'll have a real good idea of whether he wants to get into coaching full time or whether he wants to do something else," Parrish said. "He knows as long as I'm here, he'll have a job here."

Graham Watson is a college football blogger for ESPN.com.