Arkansas State Red Wolves 2018 Wrap Up: Judgement Time
This will not be another article besmirching the 2018 Red Wolves. This will not be another article besmirching the 2018 Red Wolves. This will not be another article besmirching the 2018 Red Wolves. This will not be another article besmirching the 2018 Red Wolves.
The Houston Cougars went 8-5 in 2018, and their reaction was to fire Major Applewhite and poach Dana Holgorsen from West Virginia. Getting thoroughly destroyed 70-14 by Army at the Armed Forces Bowl probably played a part in that decision.
Or maybe it was something else. Three seasons ago, the Cougars went 13-1 and beat Florida State in a New Year’s Six Bowl. Subsequently, the Big XII included Houston in its embarrassing snipe hunt while the American invented “P6” to deepen the illusion of grandeur. Since then, the Cougs have notched nine, seven and eight win seasons which isn’t bad.
It’s just not the stuff of Peach Bowls. Which takes us 560 miles north to Jonesboro, Arkansas, where the Red Wolves have also notched an 8-5 season with a disappointing bowl loss. The Sun Belt doesn’t call itself the sixth power conference, but the Red Wolves were picked to not only win the Sun Belt West, but win the Sun Belt outright. Neither happened. Will Arkansas State react drastically, like the Cougars?
Like Houston, Arkansas State is a creature tortured by its own success
Fan standards have inflated significantly, and frankly, so has the administration’s. Since Hugh Freeze led the Red Wolves to its first ten-win season, the program has shoveled cash into facilities and staff. Centennial Bank Stadium has a club level now. And a party end zone where season ticket holders can buy a beer. And water features! All to soon be accompanied by a new locker room and training facility to compliment the new indoor facility. It’s all very championship-level.
Now anything less than championship play feels as fitting as a cummerbund at Walmart.
Yeah, 2018 wasn’t great
The season began well and good – with the end of a terrible OOC curse. Before 2018, the Red Wolves were flat miserable out-of-conference. And while few will declare Tulsa and UNLV signature victories, it was refreshing not to begin conference play 1-3 (or worse, 0-4).
Then something Bizarro-world happened: the Red Wolves struggled in-conference, beginning with a tough 28-21 road loss to resurgent Georgia Southern. The season further deteriorated after an embarrassing 35-9 effort at home to Appalachian State – a performance immortalized on national TV, water features and all.
But hopes for a championship were lost in Lafayette, when the Red Wolves had nothing to stop the Cajun’s run-hungry offense. At 1-3, it was the worst conference start for the program since 2009.
The Red Wolves kept the season interesting by beating-up the Sun Belt Basement, but in the end, it would be those damn Cajuns who would rep the Sun Belt West in the first conference championship game. However, at least Arkansas State would enter it’s bowl game with momentum! The offense was pounding in 35 points per game, and the defense was impregnable. Assigned to the Arizona Bowl, the matchup with Nevada looked entertaining.
Red Wolves would lose 16-13, gaining only seven points in five trips to the Red Zone. Arkansas State finished the season without a win over a team with a winning record.
But was 2018 really that terrible?
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.