Let’s be honest: We think the Kent State football team should have won its bowl game against Arkansas State. The 17-13 defeat was disappointing and a little frustrating: quarterback Spencer Keith’s interception just three yards away from paydirt; the decisions to punt on 4th-and-short from near midfield; running back Dri Archer’s injury-induced exit. All these troubles didn’t make the game much fun.
But the fact that we felt that way — that we were expecting no less than a defeat of any and every opponent that stood in our way — proves just how incredible of an improvement the Flashes had this season. After being mired in three consecutive years of finishing with a 5-7 record, calling this 11-3 season improbable is accurate and yet feels like a severe understatement.
We can’t help but applaud every player on the roster for battling through adversity, defying the odds and never quitting. We also have high regards for head coach Darrell Hazell’s success in turning around the program’s misfortunes at long last, and for his willingness to stay with his players for the school’s first bowl game in 40 years, even after he had accepted the head coaching position at Purdue.
It may be over now, but this is the first time we’ve ever been excited and optimistic about next season. We’re hopeful athletic director Joel Nielsen has caught lightning in a bottle once again in hiring Paul Haynes as Hazell’s successor. We’re hopeful Archer’s decision to stay in school will pay off with another year of jaw-dropping performances.
The basketball and baseball teams will keep us occupied for now, but they are no longer the most notable student athletes at Kent State — unless the Golden Flashes’ luck somehow continues to be remarkably good. The day we have marked on our calendars is Thursday, Aug. 29 — the scheduled date for next season’s home opener. We’ll be back at Dix Stadium, and we think the magic will be, too.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board whose names are listed above.