Bottomline: Balado now has a team with as much talent as anyone in the Sun Belt. He has perimeter shooting, rebounds, big game experience and leadership on the floor. He doesn’t have a “back to the basket” big, but he’s not that concerned. In fact, I haven’t seen him this stoked for some time.
I’m a little stoked right now. The guy who guided Jonesboro High School to back-to-back 6A state championships and last season started for an SEC team that went to the Elite 8 has just joined Arkansas State basketball.
apply science to the picks; just went with my increasingly expanding gut. If you disagree, I invite you to keep it to yourself.
Listen, I don’t pick the months. I barely pick the content. You’re just gonna have to eat what I serve, and today it’s me spending about 45 minutes determining the highest ranked transfer player for each Sun Belt team. Just mail me my Pulitzer.
In recent days, Jones has become a Level 11 Transfer Portal Mage, craftily spackling the holes in both the offense and defense with a range of college football’s malcontents. Jones has addressed problems a linebacker, offensive line, and quarterback like a Dad browsing the Home Depot.
In essence, we’ve exchanged proven commodities for assets with tantalizing promise. The entertainment value associated with “tantalizing promise” is the elixir of season ticket pitches and offseason content like this. But tantalizing promise is also the mana of transforming a good football team into something special. Thus far, new Red Wolves head football coach Butch Jones has sipped deeply from this chalice.
Remember what the great George Costanza tells us: It’s not a lie if you believe it. Everybody thinks Rowdy Roddy Piper was a great wrestler, but have you ever seen him win a wrestling match? Nope. Moxie was his greatness, and it can be the Sun Belt’s too.
Whoever or whatever is at fault, it’s now Butch Jones’ problem to fix. But let’s be real. It’s not Jones’ job (nor was it Anderson’s) to get guys into the NFL. The job is to win games (oh yeah, and to make better men or something). But you have to believe that Jones’ focus on detail and drive to smash his critics’ teeth will result in better Combine evals and Pro Day scores.
For any reason you’d like to select, NFL Drafting isn’t a top skill in the Sun Belt toolbox – not historically, nor will it likely improve in 2021. In fact, I was a bit surprised to see how few viable Sun Belt draft prospects are in this class, given how well the conference performed on the gridiron. For health reasons, my expectations are reasonably lowered.
Today, the sun shines a bit brighter for the Sun Belt, with national-scale success polishing unfamiliar luster onto the the SBC brand. Over the off season, the Sun Belt experienced its usual coaching turnover, but this time, the conference took a potpourri of approaches to filling vacant positions.