Arkansas State hires former Texas OC Bryan Harsin


Arkansas State hires former Texas OC Bryan Harsin

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) Former Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin hopes to bring some stability to Arkansas State as its new coach.

Harsin was introduced as the new coach of the Red Wolves on Wednesday - one day after he agreed to leave the Longhorns and replace former Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn.

The former Boise State assistant coach becomes the third head coach in as many years for the two-time Sun Belt Conference champion Red Wolves. Malzahn left after one season to take over Auburn last week, while current Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze did the same two years ago.

``It was the right time,'' Harsin said at a news conference in Jonesboro. ``I had a purpose, and this was the opportunity and the chance that I've been looking for and wanting to be a part of and to be a part of this family and this team and this community. I'm excited to be here.''

The 35-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Longhorns, but he'll begin work immediately with the Red Wolves and won't coach Texas during the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State.

The Longhorns, who were 16-9 the last two seasons, will turn over play-calling duties to co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.

``Brian has done a tremendous job for us, and we appreciate all the energy he's poured into our program the past two seasons,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ``He's a bright young coach with great enthusiasm and passion for the kids and the game. He'll do a tremendous job at Arkansas State.''

Arkansas State will continue preparations for the Bowl on Jan. 6 against Kent State. The Red Wolves, who are 19-6 the last two seasons, will also begin to prepare for life under another new coach.

Since Malzahn left for Auburn last week, Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said he conducted a nationwide search for a replacement. He said the search included former NFL and BCS championship head coaches, but it was Harsin's sincere interest in the job - and his family - that ``made it very easy when we started zeroing in.''

``When we find who we want, we go get them,'' Arkansas State president Chuck Welch said. ``We've identified the best and brightest around the country, and we've made it happen.''

Mohajir flew to Austin on Tuesday to meet with Harsin, who spent the bulk of his coaching career at Boise State before being hired by Texas two years ago. The athletic director said it was important to hire someone who would remain with the program for more than one season, a thought that's reflected in Harsin's contract.

Harsin signed a five-year contract for $700,000 annually, including a $1.75-million buyout if he leaves during the first year. That buyout lowers to $1 million in the second year, $500,000 in the third, $300,000 in the fourth and $100,000 in the fifth.

``His reps tried to beat me up a little bit, but it was just like `non-negotiable,''' Mohajir joked about the buyout.

Harsin will also receive a $50,000 bonus for winning a conference championship and $25,000 for reaching a bowl game without winning a conference title.

Harsin replaces Gus Malzahn, who left after one season to become the coach at Auburn. Malzahn was 9-3 this season with the Red Wolves, his first as a college head coach, and he guided the team to its second straight Sun Belt championship.

The Red Wolves went 7-1 in conference play, with their only loss coming to Western Kentucky on Sept. 29. Arkansas State has won seven straight games since that loss, including a season-ending 45-0 win over Middle Tennessee, behind the play of quarterback Ryan Aplin - the two-time Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.

Malzahn was the second straight Arkansas State coach to leave for a job in the Southeastern Conference. He followed Freeze, who also left the school after one season as head coach when he became coach at Mississippi last year.

Before putting together its stellar two-season run, Arkansas State was a school that had enjoyed little success since becoming an FBS school in 1992. The Red Wolves had finished above .500 only once during that span before last season, when they won in double digits for the first time since they were a member of the I-AA Southland Conference in 1986.

Malzahn said during his brief time in Jonesboro that he wanted to turn Arkansas State into the ``Boise State of the south.'' Harsin, who played for the Broncos, hopes to continue with that

``This is an opportunity that I've felt I've prepared myself for for a long time,'' Harsin said. ``I didn't know it was going to feel this good.''

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings 

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Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?


Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?

The Redskins sure hosted a lot of free agent defensive line visits in the second week of free agency, but so far, no signed contracts. 

Johnathan Hankins came to Ashburn. Sylvester Williams came to Ashburn. Pernell McPhee came to Ashburn. All three left without a done deal, and now for Redskins fans, the question becomes not about when a deal will get done, but if any deals will happen.

Actually, one deal did happen. According to a report, Williams has signed with the Lions. 

Since visiting the Redskins on Monday, Hankins also took a trip to see the Lions. McPhee, who was offered a contract by the Redskins, has since taken a trip to visit the Falcons. 


Keep in mind too, Washington expressed interest in nose tackle Bennie Logan last offseason, and the 6-foot-2, 309 lb., former Chief is again on the market. A visit from Logan would surprise nobody, though it hasn't been reported yet. 

Mother Nature might also be an impediment for the Redskins. A March snowstorm shut the D.C. region down on Wednesday, which could have limited potential free agent visits.

What's clear is between Hankins, McPhee and Williams this week, in addition to Muhammad Wilkerson and Benson Mayowa last week, the Redskins are obviously looking to upgrade their defensive line. Combine that with a contract restructure for incumbent Terrell McClain, and Washington has the flexibility to improve on last season's NFL-worst run defense. 

That doesn't mean, however, the Redskins will absolutely sign one of the above mentioned players. And it doesn't mean outside linebacker Junior Gallete won't return to the Redskins either. 

Many fans wonder if a McPhee signing means the Redskins would move on from Galette. It might, but that's no sure thing. 

Washington went into the 2017 season with five outside linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Galette, Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter. Right now, the 'Skins only have Kerrigan, Smith and Anderson under contract. The team needs to add at least one OLB, but likely two.

McPhee also carries about 20 extra pounds on his frame than Galette, giving the former Bear and Raven more flexibility to play against the run. Galette is a speed, leverage and moves player, focused on getting to the quarterback. He's capable against the run, but in the same way a sports car shouldn't carry a snow plow, Galette should be used to pressure QBs. 

Point being: McPhee and Galette could both make sense for the Redskins, if the team can work out the cash. 

Money usually matters the most in free agency, and it's clear the Redskins haven't made the type of offers that any of these players felt compelled to immediately sign. Deals could still happen though. Hankins didn't sign last offseason until April and Galette seems to thank Redskins fans via social media with relative frequency. 

Washington also had some success with the patient approach to free agency. The team was able to keep Zach Brown, though it took some nervous days of allowing the tackling machine linebacker to test the free agent market. With that win in hand, don't expect the Redskins brass to change their philosophy. 

Until further notice, it's hurry up and wait season in Ashburn.

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