A True Coaching Carousel: Arkansas State
By Mike Crocker
In the midst of another college offseason we see coaches and coordinators jump ship and change programs all the time. But the true definition of a coaching carousel exists at a lesser-known school: Arkansas State. With all the risk and uncertainty that comes with new head coaches, the Red Wolves seem to be able to keep doing one thing consistently each season: Win.
The Red Wolves, despite hiring their fifth new head coach in the last five seasons, seem to have a system in place to handle a "one-and-done" coach. It all started with Steve Roberts, who after an ugly 4-8 finish to the 2010 season opted to take a job as an athletic director for an Arkansas school district. Then came Hugh Freeze in 2011, who left for Ole Miss after a 10-3 finish. The following year, new coach Gus Malzhan repeated the 10-3 season and left to fill the head coaching vacancy at Auburn University (which has worked out very well for him as Auburn just played for the national championship). Finally and most recently, coach Bryan Harsin led the team to an 8-5 finish, including a bowl win, and then got himself a one-way ticket back to Boise State to become the head coach there, where previously served as an assistant for almost a decade.
Now enter Blake Anderson. No, not the goofball actor on Comedy Central's Workaholics, but the offensive coordinator for a North Carolina offense that ranked eighth in the nation in scoring average. He now takes over a Red Wolves team looking to notch another 10-win season. But the elephant in the room and the question looming around fans, players and school personnel is simply put: "Will he stay or will he go?"
Arkansas State built a monster buyout into his contract, virtually assuring he'll be the coach for at least three years, but after the last few seasons, don't be surprised if the question lingers.