RedWolfReport.com publisher Luke Matheson and staff analyst Jay Bir have sat down and answered four big questions being asked by Red Wolf fans across the state.
Question One: Can Gus Malzahn continue with the success that Hugh Freeze had, and carry it beyond where Freeze was able to get?
Jay Bir: I don't see why Gus Malzahn can't continue the success that started with Hugh Freeze. A minimum of eight wins this year is now to be EXPECTED.
Like it's been said before, Freeze proved that winning at ASU is possible and Malzahn is more than capable of being able to carry the torch. Carrying it beyond that is certainly attainable. Winning (or coaching in) a bowl game is already beyond what Freeze had done and is going to happen in my opinion.
Now as far as the lofty goals of cracking the Top 25, the Red Wolves need to have another season as productive as last year and put up a fight against Nebraska and/or Oregon.
Topping all the performing on the field is Malzahn STAYING in Jonesboro to see it through.
Luke Matheson: Without a doubt. Malzahn is an offensive genius, and the Sun Belt Conference is about to see that.
He has been successful everywhere he has been from the high school level to collegiate, and I see no reason that he will not continue that success at ASU.
As one of our subscribers here at RedWolfReport.com recently stated; Steve Roberts built the car, Hugh Freeze showed it off, but Gus Malzahn is about to show the world what it is made of.
Question Two: Can Arkansas handle two successful FBS football teams?
Jay: The state of Arkansas can more than handle two successful FBS teams.
If the state of Mississippi can generally support three schools, if Oklahoma can handle two relatively successful schools, than Arkansas most certainly can. Won't it be something to see both Arkansas and Arkansas State in the Top 25?!
Any argument about the two playing is irrelevant, the state of Arkansas is about to have two programs performing at a high level, get ready to adjust. There will be lots of casual eyes on Jonesboro next season and many in the state will see ASU like they never have, if they ever have.
Luke: Absolutely, yes, Arkansas can handle two successful FBS level football teams.
They do not play each other, and with the exception of a few kids each year, they will not recruit against each other. We are beginning to see more and more Red Wolf fans who could care less if "the game" is ever played, and feel that they want to see Arkansas State build their brand on their own.
I have mixed emotions about it. I think a game every five years or so would be cool to see, but at the same time, it would also be great to see both Arkansas State and the University of Arkansas be in the Top 25 consistently, and winning bowl games.
Question Three: How will recruiting change with Gus Malzahn at the helm?
Jay: I'm nsure exactly how recruiting will change under Malzahn. He will certainly make runs at guys who traditionally may not have gotten looks from ASU.
He is going to challenge the 'big schools' for recruits but can he win some of those battles?
He's a well-known guy in the region, his offense works at any level (Tulsa was ranked #1 and #2 when he was there, and Auburn won a national title), and he's capable of putting guys into the NFL, what more can a recruit ask for...maybe a few rings to go along with all that?
He's going to change the perception of ASU for sure and that's step one into getting into that 'Boise St' level that all Red Wolf fans hope to attain.
Luke: I think Malzahn is going to help lure in some kids who previously may not have considered Jonesboro for their collegiate destination.
He is a "name" coach that kids know about, and high school coaches love. Mix that with a winning program, and he is bound to steal one or two a year from some of the bigger schools across the country.
I also believe we will see a ton of talent from within the Natural State heading to Jonesboro. That will also do Arkansas State the favor of helping to build a solid in-state fan base.
Question Four: Will Arkansas State finally get over that bowl game hump, and get a win under Malzahn?
Jay: I don't see why that won't happen his first year.
Now things happen during a season, but all that not withstanding, he'll have the SBC Player of the Year returning at QB in Ryan Aplin, most of his WRs from last year making an impact, a running game that will evolve and not have to depend on Aplin as much, and an offensive line that has had a year together for the most part.
Defensively they could be just as good but a lot of parts to replace on that side, but if the offense does what it could be capable of doing than it won't matter.
But whoever from CUSA representing them in New Orleans better get ready because ASU is finally getting that bowl win.
Luke: Yes, without a doubt.
I believe that the coaches on the staff who have been there and done that will utilize that experience to prepare the team in a way they have never been prepared before.
I also believe that the players on the team who played on this past year's bowl team will remember that feeling of losing in Mobile, and vow to never feel it again.
All in all, I believe the entire Arkansas State football program is headed nowhere but up.
Keep checking with RedWolfReport.com for all of your Arkansas State athletic and recruiting news!