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Arkansas State’s Stability has Bred Success

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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From 2011 to 2013, Arkansas State began each season with a new head coach, in what has become known as the "one and done years."

Beginning with Hugh Freeze, who was succeeded by Gus Malzahn, and then in turn taken over for by Bryan Harsin, the Red Wolves simply couldn't manage to hold on to anyone. This was, of course, a catch-22 -- these coaches, that have gone on to have varying, albeit all arguably solid, degrees of succes, would do their job well and thus leave for a better one.

In an effort to put said "one and done era" to bed, Arkansas State provided for steep buyout clauses of Blake Anderson, in 2014.

Clearly, this was a good decision, as Anderson has enjoyed similar success to his predecessors, whilst staying with his current job. For Anderson, however, it's about more than numbers on a legal document.

"It's a great fit for me," Anderson stated. "I'm form the South, I was born in Jonesboro. My whole career I've worked at small schools. It just fits my personality. I'm perfectly comfortable in the shoes I'm in. We're not done. Stability is the key."

A program that once managed to win in spite of its incessant turnover within the coaching ranks, has become a beacon of continuity.

Where talent once was enough to get by, in an ever-improving Sun Belt Conference, it takes more, these days.

Even for a team with Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, infrastructural consistency is imperative for sustained contendership.

"It's big for me just from a confidence standpoint, and being familiar with the system," quarterback Justice Hansen confirmed.

Hansen is especially greatful for the consistency given that this is his first season with the same head coach that he has the year prior, since he went to college.

"Talking to guys that I know, from before I got (to Arkansas State)," began defensive back Blaise Taylor, "there was a lot of attrition in our program. A lot of guys would transfer out because the coaches changed or becuase the scheme changed. We had a lot of depth issues. We have a lot more continuity as far as guys who sign here finishing there playing careers here."

There are concerns about Arkansas state, as there are with most teams. The offensive line, for example, lost all five starters from a year ago.

The difference is that, now, Arkansas State has the personnel and leadership in place to deal with those sorts of transitional periods.

When the same coaches stay at the same school, the depth builds, positive momentum holds, and comfortability, which is at a premium in the modern landscape of college football, can exist and flourish.

There's no reason to expect Arkansas State to not win, at least a share of, the Sun Belt title, as they have five of the last six years -- it's what they do.

Just like there's no reason to expect Blake Anderson to stop coaching the Red Wolves any time soon -- it's what he does.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin. Producer of 3 & Out and host of the Explosive Recruiting Show on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP