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.
But let’s pretend these Power Five snobs decided to break away from the system that has nourished them to create a Super League. Who gets left out? Pitt? Colorado? West Virginia? Vanderbilt? Sure! But also Arkansas, Michigan State, Washington and Utah. Suddenly, those programs would feel the second-class distinction felt by a select group of programs.
What we didn’t learn was much about the 2021 Red Wolves. That’s really the function of a Spring Game – getting nothing and liking it. After all, aan offense that puts 500 yards in the Spring can easily average under 300 in the fall. All fans can really expect is to put an eye on some prospects, gauge the attitude of the new coach, and inventory the stars who are too injured to suit up.
Universities invite change, culture, exotic foreigners, weird art, spiritual awakenings, alcohol use, dancing, sexual experimentation, diversity, exposed abdomens, traffic, and a rainbow of criminal activities – drivers of growth both positive and painful that are at odds with Jonesboro’s unofficial charter of peace, quiet, and predictably. For decades, Arkansas State was viewed by many locals as a potential powder keg whose only purpose was to destroy the status quo. Jonesboro likes its quo.
I sat down and chatted with Coach Kostick – a rugged, round-faced, hyper-verbal dynamo who’s quite frank about his frankness. Furthermore, he bears an encyclopedic mind from which he produces bowling stats and memories with Deep Blue efficiency.
The Sun Belt isn’t going anywhere but up, and yet the instinct among many fans is to get out. Like clockwork, the moment an SBC finds success, the fans begin to lobby for another conference. Why not devote that energy to pouring pride into the conference that has made your success possible?
The Red Wolves are coming off an extraordinary 11-3-1 season, and is lead by senior forward Sarah Sodoma, a three-time first-team all-SBC player who led the team with 8 goals last year. Arkansas is ranked #7 in the nation so I assume they’re decent enough, too.
Much like the hire of Butch Jones earlier this year, the Bowen hire smacks of bottomline mentality. Under Bowen, Memphis radically transformed its football infrastructure while maintaining acceptable (if not championship caliber) results in basketball. It was Bowen who ushered Memphis from CUSA to the Big East (lol) to the AAC. It was Bowen who hired Mike Norvell…and Tubby Smith, which was quite the drama.