- Don Jones, senior defensive back for Arkansas State University
The keggers, pep rallies and sloppy Ultimate Frisbee outings. What grad doesn’t relish memories of all-night study marathons and forming relationships with mentors that can last a lifetime?
Surely, this is a time to treasure.
Unless, of course, you’re an Arkansas State football player and you’ve just been abandoned for the second time in two years by a head coach you hoped – nay, believed – was in it for the long run.
Hugh Freeze was one thing. The Red Wolves’ coach during the 2011 season had an air of itinerant about him all along. Freeze craved promotion and just needed a platform for it. There weren’t many long-lasting hard feelings after he took the Ole Miss gig.
But this Gus Malzahn mess is different. Here we have a sadness for which the acroynm #smh was invented. In Malzahn, so many Arkansas State fans found so much hope. He was a prodigal son come home, a dream whisperer bound for better things, sure, but he would take Arkansas State to the mid-major promised land and keep them there for at least a season or two first.
He cast his spell on administrators, boosters and recruits far and wide. A few Cassandras spoke out, pointing out that it’s never a good sign when the first thing that pops up when your name is Googled is this, but it didn’t matter. By the time late fall rolled around, Malzahn was sewing up ASU’s second straight Sun Belt title.
Then, on Tuesday, Malzahn high-tailed it out of Jonesboro for Auburn. Opportunity beckoned, and the coffers behind today’s college football can make that call very loud indeed.
And yet, in the cacophony of the coach’s departure and the search for a new one, we haven’t heard enough from the young men that unwittingly helped Malzahn advance his career this quickly. They are the ones who sacrificed the most during recent seasons to elevate ASU to the cusp of the Top 25.
If we care so much about what they do on the field, let’s pay mind to what they say off of it. The following messages came from the Twitter accounts of Arkansas State players. Whether in the form of an original Tweet or a Retweet, these words show us how some of the team’s key contributors feel:
My body hurting so bad. But it was all worth it. Arkansas State Red Wolves Back 2 Back Sunbelt Conference Champs!— Darion Griswold (@On_My_GRIZZLY3) December 2, 2012
Yall thought Malzahn was gone keep turning dem M's down lol shiiiii— Don Jones II (@Don_Jones5) December 4, 2012
Astate is cursed!....We started it m last year with Freeze! Now Gus....might as well make coach Gunn that Man!— Dwayne Frampton (@that_dude9) December 4, 2012
@eminor21minor honestly I feel for the boys, it hurted when freeze left us, but @ least he was man enough 2 say it face to face with trears— Dwayne Frampton (@that_dude9) December 4, 2012
@mr_mclovn7 man it's the whole way it went about! He could atleast told us— Amos Draper (@DRAPE_) December 4, 2012
@eminor21minor I understand there are no promises n college football, but its about the way u do things,I feel GUS could've did it different— Dwayne Frampton (@that_dude9) December 4, 2012
“@drape_: Ain't no loyalty when it comes to money”Just remember.stAte fans cheer for YOU, not the coaches that bolt for coin!— Adam Staples (@AdamWStaples) December 5, 2012
“@rodputonashow These coaches ain't loyal they just money hungry!” cant trust them.— Darion Griswold (@On_My_GRIZZLY3) December 4, 2012
A different coach every year since I been here #HardOnMe— Amos Draper (@DRAPE_) December 4, 2012
Evin Demirel writes about sports and society at thesportsseer.com.