Jones building on struggles at ASU

Jones building on struggles at ASU

Arkansas State football Coach Butch Jones told about 250 members of the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday that there are two kinds of coaches in college football.

“There’s coaches that build teams and there’s coaches that build programs,” Jones said at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Little Rock. “When you’re looking to build a team, you’re jumping all over in recruiting all the time. You’re in, but you’re not in.”

Building a program, like the one Jones wants to be construct at Arkansas State, is different than just trying to field a winning team.

“You’re willing to go through the pains,” Jones said. “It’s all-encompassing.”

There has been more pain than gain at the midway point of Jones’ first season in Jonesboro, but he said he is not discouraged.

“It’s very hard to stand up here and be 1-5,” said Jones, who is 85-59 in 12 seasons as a Division I head coach. “But I do see progress.”

Jones said his first ASU season is similar to his first year at Tennessee, after successful stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, when the Volunteers finished 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the SEC.

Jones followed that with records of 7-6, 9-4 and 9-4 — all three seasons ending with victories in bowl games — only to be dismissed with a 4-6 record with two games left in 2017.

“We have to make sure that our culture and expectations are in place,” Jones said. “We have great kids … I like our players. It’s our job to teach them, teach them everything — from how you celebrate to a culture of team chemistry.”

Jones said his goal has not changed since arrived on campus to replace Blake Anderson last December.

“I’ve said it, ‘We’re going to build an SEC program,’ ” Jones said. “Every day, it’s like fourth and 1 for the national championship.”

Jones said the three seasons he spent at Alabama as a special off-the-field assistant to Nick Saban have been invaluable in helping prepare him for the job at hand.

“I’ve been behind closed doors with the greatest of all time,” Jones said of his time with Saban. “How do you build a culture? How do you reset a culture? I’ll always be grateful to him.”

Jones had a different take than most people on Alabama’s upset loss at Texas A&M on Saturday.

“They’ll be better for it,” Jones said of Alabama. “That’s probably what the country did not want to see happen.

“That team will bounce back, that team will galvanize itself. Sometimes, you need to have a lesson like that to bounce back.”

Jones said one of the lessons he learned working with Saban is that losing is not a negative.

“Never waste an opportunity to get better when you have a setback,” he said. “How are you going to be better for it?”

It’s a little different for Jones, midway through his first season at Arkansas State, than it is for Saban.

“When I talk about that we’re building an SEC program, it’s a mind-set,” Jones said. “We’re going to do everything in a first-class manner.

“It takes time. One of the hardest things to do in football is to learn how to play hard. You have to train that way. “

Jones said the average player goes all out for 2 to 3 seconds even though the average football play lasts for 4 to 6 seconds.

“You have to condition the mind,” he said.

Jones said the Red Wolves, with their next game scheduled a week from Thursday against Louisiana-Lafayette, have a chance to reset after last Thursday’s 52-20 loss to Coastal Carolina.

“The bye week is coming at the right time,” he said. “We have to continue to improve and recruit. We have to develop the players we have in our program and then we have to go out on the road recruiting.”

Jones said his staff was on the road recruiting last Friday after the Coastal Carolina loss and they will be on the road again this week.

“Everyone wants instant gratification, I get it,” he said. “But if you look at all the teams that are having success, they’ve always had a starting point.”

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