MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) -- Stan Parrish, Ball State's offensive coordinator the past three seasons, signed a four-year contract on Thursday and promised a smooth transition as the new coach of the 23rd-ranked Cardinals.
He replaces Brady Hoke, who resigned this week to become the coach at San Diego State, and his first game will be on Jan. 6, when the Cardinals play Tulsa (10-3) in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
"Brady's footprints, fortunately, will stay on the program," Parrish said at a news conference announcing the coaching change. "It makes the transition for me very, very easy. There will be a lot of continuity in this program, because I had a lot of say in what we did before. That's a wonderful situation."
Hoke was 34-38 in six years as coach, including 12-1 this season.
Led by quarterback Nate Davis, a Unitas Golden Arm award finalist, Ball State was ranked as high as 12th -- best in program history -- before a loss to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
Parrish said he would also remain offensive coordinator and continue calling the plays for the Cardinals.
"This decision was based on one thing, about the players," he said. "Brady gave me a unique format to coach under here, with no micromanagement and total trust in what I did and total support. It's hard to find a job like that. I won't be as good a boss, I guarantee you.
"Obviously we did a good job, or I wouldn't be standing here today," Parrish said.
Parrish, a former head coach at Wabash, Marshall and Kansas State and assistant at Rutgers and Michigan, was an NFL assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002-03. He came to Ball State as quarterbacks coach in 2005 and added the title of offensive coordinator the following season.
His record as a head coach is 57-41-3. Most of those wins came at Division III Wabash, where his teams were 42-3-1 in 1978-82. He was 13-8-1 in two years at Marshall but won just two games in three seasons at Kansas State.
"I learned a lot about being successful as a head coach and about failing as a head coach," he said. "I have a good plan in place. It's a matter of keeping going."
He said Hoke's departure was a blow to the team and a distraction as it prepares for its bowl game.
"I would be foolhardy to think it wouldn't be," Parrish said. "What we don't want is any more distractions. ... We've got to focus on the game. Will erasing the distractions be easy? Heavens, no. This is a very traumatic event. It's going to be tough. ... We lost a heck of a coach, so we've all got to pitch in."
Davis, who hasn't said whether he'll return for his senior season or enter the NFL draft, said he expected Parrish to get the job.
"The whole time that this was going on, I knew that Coach Parrish was going to take the job, because he deserves it," Davis said. "He's put a lot of work in. Him and Coach Hoke were good friends and he coaches just like him."