Arkansas State’s Conference Championship: The Biggest Plays Came After the Game

(For coverage of last night’s championship game with some fairly decent photos, check out last night’s post just after the game.)

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Sun belt champions

It was a great night at Liberty Bank Stadium, and for the record, I love the movement to call it The Vault.

Offense and defense showed up putting together a classic championship victory – a 45-0 statement likely earning them a ticket to the Liberty Bowl.

Too bad the game’s post-championship ceremonies couldn’t have been more about the team. For the play-makers at the microphone it was much more about future moments than present ones.

And necessarily so.

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First, there’s this. ASU System President Chuck Welch is a highly effective advocate for his school. His earliest months are producing tangible, visible, measurable results. Welch has drawn the plays, called the plays and executed the plays. His most recent executive hires over the last three months assemble a multi-talented team both in and out of football. He’s delivered.

Welch will pay a price for his success. He’s now required to get even better.

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It all played out on a make-shift stage at the 50-yard line last night as the microphone went from one “player” to the next.

You could almost see ASU-Jonesboro Chancellor Tim Hudson cringe at Welch’s out-of-the-gate calculated, but necessary statement.

DSC_0112Here’s what they all said (accompanied by a translation of what they were all really saying.)

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WELCH: (I’m paraphrasing this quote but it’s pretty close.) “I want everyone here right now to show Coach Gus Malzahn (and his team) just how much we appreciate what they’ve done.”

Translation: Malzahn’s hot, if not the hottest property in college football right now. We’re all going to have to pull together and do our part to keep him here, and it may take a lot more money … or money may not even matter.

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HUDSON: “How about the students at ASU? I want to hear it for the students!”

Translation: Everybody just heard Welch single out the coach. It’s not right, but he had to do it. My job here is political correctness and keeping everyone (impossibly) happy.

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MALZAHN: (In response to  reporter’s question about his desire to take ASU’s program to the “next” level.) “Look at this,” he said, scanning the crowd. “This is the next level.”

Translation: Okay, Auburn, Tennessee and anyone else (especially in the SEC) who wants to continue calling or call anew, look at the scoreboard. We just made a statement, and I’ve backed up everything I promised here. What say each of you now?

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Political X’s and O’s at their finest.

Will Welch be good enough to keep Malzhan at ASU? And if not, what rabbit will he next pull out of the hat?

Good news is, we’ve never really had to worry about this stuff before. Bad news is, we’re worrying about a lot of stuff, and it’s all new to us, so we don’t quite know how to react or what to do.

Now, we wait.

Waiting may be all we can do.

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