With the Arkansas State fight song blaring from a boom box, a crowded Hayes room in the Convocation Center was introduced to Hugh Freeze, the 27th head football coach of the ASU Red Wolves Thursday night.
"We've found a candidate right here at home," declared Athletic Director Dean Lee moments before giving Freeze the stage. "It became very apparent that he is a difference maker, he is tremendous person of substance and that he is an individual…that we determined was a keeper."
The appointing of Hugh Freeze, the Red Wolves offensive coordinator this past season, came three days after Steve Roberts resigned as head coach.
Lee also said that an announcement of Freeze being named interim head coach in the last few days was not made because "I didn't want that label and did not want that stigma placed on him." Lee told the audience present what the search for a new head coach had come down to. "I visited with 10 candidates out there that were individuals of interest, but I did not do an extensive interview based on the fact I wanted to make the decision on Hugh Freeze first and foremost."
That decision came to fruition as Hugh Freeze stood behind the podium to eager applause and gave the Red Wolf nation his gratitude for being named the newest leader of Arkansas State football.
"I am thrilled to be introduced as the next head football coach here at Arkansas State," said Freeze, "It is a dream come true for me and there are so many people that have played a very major role in the process of me getting here."
With coaching experience at the University of Mississippi and Lambuth University, where he compiled a 20-5 record and was named American Football Coaches Association's Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2009, Freeze did not hesitate in trying to fire up not just the crowd but all ASU supporters.
"We really want to involve you into who we are. We believe we are a part of you, we are an extension of you and you are with us and we need you" affirmed Freeze.
He then invited everyone present to take part in a team pre-meeting ritual. With the help of team members present Freeze said "Red Wolves ready, ready!" clapped three times and finished with another "ready, ready."
Needless to say, Freeze left a very welcome first impression on the room. He's passionate, inspiring and knows what the program needs to be successful.
"We must impact the lives of the players we coach… we must achieve academic excellence. That's something coach Roberts has done an excellent job in establishing here and we will continue that tradition…and we must compete for a conference championship every single year."
Before he finished, Freeze was asked if he wanted to make any bold promises; Freeze put teams like Illinois and Virginia Tech on notice.
"I would say, look for us to upset somebody next year that we're not supposed to AND win a conference championship."
'I would say, look for us to upset somebody next year that we're not supposed to AND win a conference championship.'
- Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State Head Coach
This proclamation caused the room to burst into applause.
Freeze is already at home with his team, led by quarterback Ryan Aplin.
"Any problem we need to talk about, he's there for us." said Aplin. "It's very comforting to know outside of football, we have someone to talk to."
Freeze was instrumental in implementing an offense that helped Aplin and the offense to break nine school records, including: total offense, first downs, passing touchdowns and completion percentage.
"He finds those little things that help you get right, little things in my foot work, dropping my shoulder over stride and has helped me with this offense weather it was passing or running." said Aplin
Freeze also has the endorsement of defensive star Demario Davis.
"He said it's a dream come true for him to be head of this program. It's a dream come true for me to playing under a coach like him." said Davis
Coach Freeze has only been in charge of the Red Wolves for one day and he already has the team, the school and Jonesboro ready for the first step into the new era of ASU football. That first step will be taken when the Red Wolves take on the Illinois Illini on September 3rd of next year.
Daniel McFadin is a columnist for the ASU Herald on the campus of Arkansas State University, and is a regular contributor to ArkansasVarsity.com.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep checking back with ArkansasVarsity.com for all of your Arkansas State Red Wolves Sporting News!