That is exactly what Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have done in the Sun Belt Conference this year. The Red Wolves are 8-2 on the season, and just came off of their biggest win of the season after beating second place Louisiana-Lafayette 30-21, and placing themselves in the drivers seat towards becoming Sun Belt Conference champions.
Two games are remaining on this years regular season schedule. The Red Wolves will travel to Middle Tennessee this Saturday, then will enjoy a bye week. The Red Wolves will finish the regular season December 3rd against Troy at ASU Stadium in Jonesboro.
Not only has the product on the football field improved, recruiting has also. Freeze and his staff have secured verbal commitments from 14 prospects from across the south. Other commitments are expected to come soon, and needless to say, Freeze could be on his way to the top recruiting class in the Sun Belt conference for 2012 as well.
Many could feel that this year was going to be special for Arkansas State the moment Freeze was named head coach. His demeanor and charisma at his opening press conference gave an early look into how things would be from that point forward. There was no doubt that a new energy was being brought to the program.
With that energy came an entire new mindset for the team. Earlier in the year, Freeze told the media that his team would not give power to several things being said about them. He stated that his team would not give power to the myth that they couldn't win on the road, couldn't win more than five games, and couldn't win a conference championship. In year one, Freeze has proven those three myths incorrect.
Obviously with Freeze having success as a division one head football coach, rumors are already running rampant regarding other schools wanting him. Rumors have began to circulate that Memphis and Ole Miss is interested. I have not been able to find any credible proof that these rumors are true. It is my belief that Ole Miss will approach Rich Rodriguez or Mike Leach, while Houston Nutt's name is being floated around in many circles as the next man for the Memphis job.
Back to the success Arkansas State has enjoyed on the field this season. Not only is the team 8-2 right now, they are ranked 28th in the nation by CBSSports.com.
Here are a few more facts about Arkansas State this year courtesy of Arkansas State SID Jerry Scott:
Arkansas State is one of just two teams in the nation that leads its conference in both total offense and total defense. Boise State is the other.
Arkansas State is ranked 20th in the nation in total defense (324.7 ypg) and 27th in total offense (446.6 ypg).
Quarterback Ryan Aplin needs 182 yards to become just the 2nd player in Sun Belt history to record over 3,000 yards total offense in 2 different seasons. Aplin needs just 19 more to break the ASU record currently held by Corey Leonard.
Wide receiver Dwayne Frampton is the first player in ASU history to record 60+ receptions in 2 different seasons. 64 in 2011 and 69 in 2010.
Wide receiver Taylor Stockemer took over 4th place for career touchdown receptions by an ASU player during the Louisiana-Lafayette game. He now has 11 to his credit.
With at least two games remaining, running back Derek Lawson needs 177 rushing yards to become the 12th player in ASU history with 2,000 in a career.
Arkansas State is receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll for the first time ever as an FBS member -- 1 vote last week and 5 this week.
Defensive end Brandon Joiner tied the ASU and SBC records for sacks in a game with four against Louisiana-Lafayette. His four sacks tied the most in the nation this year. Joiner has 10 sacks on the year, which ties his for the 5th most ever by an ASU player during a single season.
Arkansas State needs 426 more yards to break the school record (4,481 yards in 2010) for total offense in a season.
Although ASU didn't record an interception its first two games, it now has 16 over the last eight to rank tied for 4th in the nation.
The attendance for the Arkansas State-UL Lafayette game was 20,261, making it the largest crowd ever for November game at ASU Stadium.
Arkansas State's six game conference winning streak is its longest since the 1985-86 seasons when it won 10 in a row as a member of the Southland conference.
Arkansas State has scored at least 30 points in six games this season, the most since 1987. The last time it scored 30-plus in at least seven games was 1951.
Arkansas State has the nation's No. 21 rush def. - allowing 3.2 ypr & 114.5 ypg to currently rank as the 4th and 3rd lowest, respectively, in SBC history.
Needless to say, when you look at the win-loss record, the team records Arkansas State is set to break, and how well recruiting is going, it is safe to say the Hugh Freeze is certainly doing what they said can't be done in Jonesboro, Arkansas. There are only two things remaining to do--win out in conference play, and win a bowl game. I'm willing to be Freeze will do that too.