In his introductory press conference at Arkansas State, Head Coach Butch Jones got emotional when talking about the impact that Nick Saban had on him in his two years in Tuscaloosa serving as an analyst under Saban. In those two seasons under Nick Saban, Butch Jones learned the successful ways of Nick Saban, which has prepared him for the Arkansas State job that he has since taken. From the 24 hour policy after a big win to move on and get ready for the next step to never taking a day off to prepare for every circumstance possible, the handprint of Nick Saban will be in Jonesboro this fall with Butch Jones at the helm.
So what exactly can Arkansas State fans expect from Butch Jones and his Nick Saban approach to coaching this program? Quite honestly, the short answer would be to win Sun Belt Championships every year with the contention of playing in a New Year Six bowl game every season that Butch is in Jonesboro.
Arkansas State has always been a program that has been a sleeping giant. From the facilities to the very foundation that this program is built on, Arkansas State has always been on the very tip of something spectacular, something that could represent what UCF has done over the last eight years. Like UCF, Arkansas State was missing the right Head Coach, which they finally found in Butch Jones. Right off the bat, you can tell the difference in Butch Jones from his time at Alabama, where he learned from the greatest coach of all time, Nick Saban.
Given the current track record of former Nick Saban assistants such as Kirby Smart, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, and that’s just to name a few, I’d say Arkansas State is in good hands for the future. In the podcast interview on Tuesday afternoon, you could sense a new level of excitement in Butch Jones. From moving on to the next game after 24 hours of celebration or in, some cases, dread from the way, he runs spring football, Arkansas State has the potential to be the Alabama of the Group of five.
As far as the rest of the Sun Belt goes, expect this conference to feed off the success of Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State, and the Rajun Cajuns from Louisiana and to build this conference into something remarkable like the American Athletic Conference. It all starts and ends with the investment the Sun Belt has in every sport, especially football. This is a league that has the likeness of Jamey Chadwell, Billy Napier, and now Butch Jones. With coaches like that, there should be a level of excitement at every one of these programs.