Bahn: Arkansas State's Malzahn Pitches Vision For Red Wolves In Statewide Speaking Tour

by Chris Bahn  on Friday, May. 18, 2012 4:45 pm  

ASU Coach Gus Malzahn speaks at the Fordyce Civic Center, delivering one of 15 speeches on a statewide tour that covered more than 1,000 miles this week. (Photo by Chris Bahn)

Nearly 20 minutes ahead of schedule the caravan that carried Arkansas State Coach Gus Malzahn on a statewide speaking tour pulled into the parking lot at the Fordyce Civic Center.

Athletic Director Dean Lee put the vehicle into park and with a hint of concern, turned toward Malzahn.

“Do you need to stop and catch your breath,” Lee asked.

Malzahn was entering the next-to-last appearance of a trip that would wind up including 15 stops in 14 different towns and covering approximately 1,100 miles. Only Fordyce and Hot Springs remained on the agenda Thursday when Lee did a welfare check on his coach.

“Nope. Let’s do this,” Malzahn responded, a cup of recently purchased convenience store coffee within reach.

As he did throughout the “Head of stAte Tour” Malzahn confidently strode into the venue to work the room. His first priority was often seeking out local high school coaches or parents who he recognized before turning his attention to meeting longtime fans and trying to win over new supporters. was with Malzahn for the final day of the trip, which included stops in Bryant, Pine Bluff, El Dorado, Fordyce and Hot Springs. There were few signs of fatigue for the coach throughout Thursday’s final day of the trip.

There were stops for coffee in Hampton (2:30 p.m.) and Malvern (6:15).

During the hour ride between El Dorado and Fordyce he gave his right hand a rest, taking off the weighty (and gaudy) national championship ring he won as offensive coordinator at Auburn. Otherwise Malzahn seemed fresh, even as he delivered material that was well worn before his first day ended with a 7 p.m. appearance in Mountain Home.

Nearly 350 miles were covered Tuesday. Another 230 miles came Wednesday and a final 350 or so on Thursday.

None of it seemed to wear on Malzahn, the former Auburn staffer and 15-year veteran of the Arkansas high school ranks.

"We’re just trying to cover all the areas and be as visible as we can," Malzahn said. "It’s exciting to me.”



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