Four years, seven months, and nine days earlier Arkansas State had made its first and at the time, only, appearance in an FBS bowl game.
Like most AState fans at the time my standard for a good season was 6-6 and hoped we could be a program that could put together a really good eight win season every few years. A bowl game every few years would be perfect.
At that AState lunch head coach Steve Roberts spoke along with his defensive coordinator and new offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze. Afterwards my wife remarked that it would have been boring if not for "the new guy".
That lunch stuck with me and later on August 6, 2010 AState held its annual football media day. I swung back by the stadium after running a few errands to take a few photos of the stadium. I ran into David Kenley out at the stadium and we began our usual breakdown of the upcoming season. That day I made the rare prediction that turned out right. I said if we didn't win six and if the offense didn't bomb, that Hugh Freeze would be the next head coach at AState.
AState is now 27-11 since Hugh Freeze took the reins and started a progression of success and changes. In the process the expectations for AState football as well as the perception of the program has changed dramatically.
It would have been impossible to believe those few short years ago, that winning conference titles and going to bowl games would become old hat for AState fans. Yet, it seems the progression of searches for new coaches coupled with a fan base that remembers the first seven games of the season more vividly than it remembers the last five has created an environment where another bowl trip doesn't leave fans desperate for one more game to celebrate this program.
In less than two weeks the Red Wolves take the field in Mobile. The TV cameras will still be there, the restaurants ready to serve and the hard core fans and those looking for a good time will be there as well. What seems to be lacking is wide-spread energy and excitement.
The GoDaddy Bowl marks yet another transition for AState. Blake Anderson has signed off on a buyout that one national writer describes as "unprecedented". His offense at North Carolina and before that Southern Miss looks like the sort of high energy offense that should fit the Red Wolves like a glove. The early rumors about the make-up of his staff seem to be on track to give AState a top caliber staff.
All the pieces are in place to build the AState program to even greater levels. If you are on the bandwagon, good choice, let's spend these last few days encouraging more people to join us on this great ride.
To order tickets all the ticket office today at 888.ASU.FANS (278.3267) or 870.972.2781, visit tickets.astate.edu or stop by the lower red entrance of the Convocation Center.
Bus trips leaving Jonesboro and Little Rock are available from Little Rock Tours.
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