Video: Gus Malzahn Wastes No Time In Getting ASU Red Wolves To Think ‘Big-Time'

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2012 12:00 am  

Arkansas State head football coach Gus Malzahn returns to his home state. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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Each stop of a spring speaking tour provided Gus Malzahn with an opportunity to sell his vision for Arkansas State football.

Searcy was the first town on the statewide journey where Malzahn delivered his message of building a consistent Top 25 program. In Little Rock supporters heard his hopes of bringing the Red Wolves to play in War Memorial Stadium. From the Ozarks to Delta he had a chance to build relationships with potential ASU donors and players.

Those 14 speaking engagements and the 1,100 miles in between also gave Malzahn plenty of time to reflect.

Malzahn traveled the same roads during his tenure as a high school coach in Arkansas. They were his path to seven state title game appearances and three championships.

“These are my roots,” Malzahn said. “I got the opportunity to go into college six years ago and it’s been a blessing, but the foundation and my identity are being an Arkansas high school football coach.”

An Arkansas high school coach with a BCS title and a national reputation in college football.

Many of the same qualities that led Malzahn to success at the prep level helped him succeed as an offensive coordinator in college. Now he has his shot at proving his offensive philosophies, big vision and drive to succeed can build the Red Wolves into a consistent winner.

Arkansas State has seen a 60 percent increase in season ticket sales over this time last year. That jump came despite offering season ticket packages nearly three months later than for the 2011 season.

New fans seem to be joining the die-hards. And no Red Wolves fan is more of a diehard than Gov. Mike Beebe.

Beebe, who helped sell Malzahn on the idea of coming to Arkansas State from Auburn, is among the new coach’s biggest fans. As far as the state’s top politician is concerned, Malzahn’s reputation is well deserved.

“He’s everything I thought he was and then some,” Beebe said. “He’s driven. He’s enthusiastic. He’s impatient. He’s obviously good with the Xs and the Os and the football and the analysis, but he’s also good with people and he’s got a great work ethic. ... He’s big-time.”

Malzahn was considered one of the hottest names in college coaching before arriving at ASU. His $850,000 salary makes him the highest paid coach in the Sun Belt conference and he could have commanded more than $1 million in salary to run a larger program or serve as an offensive coordinator at a larger program.



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