Bryan Harsin is taking over an Arkansas State program that has never quite been able to find an identity. Whether it be with head coaches viewing the program as a stepping-stone to a better situation, or a lack of identity, the Red Wolves have never been a major figure in football. Last year’s coach, Gus Malzahn, left the program after one season to return to Auburn as the head coach (he was previously the offensive coordinator).
2011 marked the highpoint for the Red Wolves when they went undefeated in the Sun Belt conference on their way to the GoDaddy.com Bowl, before eventually losing to Northern Illinois. The coach that year was Hugh Freese, who left before the game to take over Ole’ Miss. So even when they’ve been good, coaches look to move on fairly quickly.
Harsin has been around college football for over 11 years. He’s coached at Eastern Oregon, Boise State and most recently Texas before taking the gig in Jonesboro. He’s been waiting a long time for a chance to run a program, and based on the results and jobs the previous two coaches have taken, it will give him a chance to prove himself if he chooses to move on. While I would like to think a coach would stick with a program, Arkansas State isn’t what one would call a top-tier job.
The Sun Belt conference provides its fans with good competitive football. When its members venture off and play bigger schools, sometimes the results aren’t very good. That said, 2013 should be another fun season for all of its members, and Arkansas State fans will have a new-look approach to look forward to with Harsin at the helm.