New ASU Coach Bryan Harsin Wins in First Outing

Jeff Reed Author Page
Well they do say practice makes perfect. Or it at least makes you better.

Don’t know if former NBA standout Allen Iverson agrees with that, but the folks at Arkansas State University are starting to get pretty good because of practice.

Last week, for the third time in two years, we saw just how good they have become.

Perhaps it does all come down to practice.

The vital first step for any new football coach is winning his initial press conference. Now we agree this is a lot like running plays in helmets and shorts against no defense, or air as it is sometimes called. It shouldn’t be a difficult task. And most do nail it. Kinda makes everyone start feeling good about the hire.

So when the Red Wolves were about to unveil the press conference for their third head coach in three seasons it was a whole lot of been there and done that in play.

And it was pulled off well.

In fact, this year’s unveiling of Bryan Harsin, the former Boise State and Texas Longhorn offensive coordinator,  who was named the new head of the Red Wolves football program last week, went better than last year’s coming out party for the glad-to-be-back-home-ready-to-build-something-special Gus Malzahn dog-and-pony show.

President Chuck Welch was better than a year before, chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson did well in his first showing, and athletic director Terry Mohajir, in his first major hire, came off well with his casual, straightforward style. Maybe it was the statewide television audience, since it was carried live by KATV, Channel 7.

Last year was a fine show too, except for the former athletic director who rambled on .. and on … and on … and …..

Get the point?

Harsin was good. He seems to have more personality than the previous coach, and I have not heard, or seen, where anyone with ASU ties has been disappointed with the hire. I even asked a friend, who spends a lot of time researching things related to the Red Wolves, and he said not a negative word.

The new coach made big points when he said he would not be with the Longhorns for the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl game.

“I belong here,” he said.

That is what any fanbase would love to hear.

He likely will have a role in the Red Wolves’ preparation for the Jan. 6 Bowl. He will definitely use his time evaluating the talent on hand and working to shore up the next recruiting class, which as of this writing had 17 commitments and only one defection. The class was put together by Malzahn and his staff, considered by far the leader in the Sun Belt. How many they keep, and what they add will determine the strength of the class, but the school is encouraged by no immediate defections.

But even more impressive than the the show the Red Wolves provided, is the caliber of new coaches the school keeps rolling out on an annual basis.

When Hugh Freeze was hired, he was pushed heavily by the fan base, in large part because of the success the team’s offense had when he was brought in as offensive coordinator. He added one player to Steve Roberts’ foundation, turned the attitude around, went 10-2 with a conference title and wound up at Ole Miss. Expectations were just for a winning season.

Malzahn, who came in highly decorated and well thought of, had a team that started  2-3 finish strong with seven straight victories. And, as we know, he has found a new home at Auburn.

Harsin, who has had success everywhere he has gone, is next in line. His credentials are solid and there is a foundation returning, a talented freshmen class waiting and a manageable schedule in line for next season.

A year from now ASU is hoping to hold a press conference to celebrate its third straight bowl appearance and not its fifth head coach in five seasons.

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