Not long after leading Arkansas State to the 2005 Sun Belt Conference championship and New Orleans Bowl, head coach Steve Roberts continues to make ASU a dominant force in the Sun Belt Conference and has ASU on track for continued success in the upcoming years.
When the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year took over the program in December 2001, he impressed everyone with his wide-eyed enthusiasm and limitless energy. And, most of all, they believed that Roberts would bring success to the ASU football program. Roberts has been the driving force behind ASU's recent success, leading the football program to its most victories over an eight-year span since 1985-92.
Roberts came to Arkansas State University and brought with him a fresh enthusiasm, energy, and an "I Will" philosophy that has been adopted by everyone associated with the program.
"I Will" became the rallying cry as Roberts and his staff charged ahead through a grueling 13-game schedule in 13 weeks with no open date in his inaugural season and came within 11 points of winning the Sun Belt Conference championship and playing in the Sun Belt Conference prize-the New Orleans Bowl.
ASU ended the season with a record of 6-7 and finished third in the league rankings. That tied the most wins since rejoining Division I-A in 1992. The Red Wolves finished in the top ten turnarounds by Division I-A football schools for improving football records after finishing 2-9 in 2001.
Under Roberts' direction, ASU continues to add to the achievements that began upon his arrival. Not only did ASU represent the Sun Belt Conference in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, it claimed its first league championship since 1986. Arkansas State went undefeated at home that season and is now 29-10 all-time at ASU Stadium under Roberts. The bowl appearance was ASU's first since playing in the 1970 Pecan Bowl.
ASU has been bowl eligible three of the last five seasons and the last four Roberts' coached teams backed up the 2005 Sun Belt championship with non-conference victories over teams such as Army, Memphis, SMU and Texas A&M. The Red Wolves' 2008 win over the Aggies was one of the biggest wins in school history as ASU picked up its first victory over a BCS conference school since joining the FBS.
The Red Wolves have finished among the top three teams in the Sun Belt Conference four times, but ASU has also been competitive during Roberts' tenure against the nation's elite teams. ASU fell to then-ranked No. 25 Memphis by just 12 points in 2004, No. 4 Texas by eight points in 2007 and No. 13 Iowa by three points in 2009.
In addition to the 2002 and 2008 teams, the 2005 and 2006 squads both posted six wins to mark the first time since the 1986 and 1987 seasons the Red Wolves recorded at least six victories in back-to-back seasons. Roberts already holds the fifth most wins among ASU's 26 all-time head and needs just 12 more victories to move into second on the list.
The 2008 Roberts' coached team holds the all-time school record for single-season offense and the ASU defense has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the Sun Belt Conference each of the last four seasons.
Over the last eight years, ASU has picked up 70 all-conference selections, including at least 10 four of the last five years. ASU had 11 players named all-conference in 2008, its most ever as a member of the SBC. The Red Wolves placed 10 players on the list in 2002, 2005 and 2006, and nine in 2007.
Roberts has coached a Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, two Defensive Player of the Year winners and a Newcomer of the Year.
The Red Wolves have had four NFL draft picks under Roberts, including David Johnson in 2009, Tyrell Johnson in 2008, Oren O'Neal in 2007 and Corey Williams in 2004. Johnson was a second-round selection and the third highest drafted player in ASU history. Alex Carrington, the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year, is also expected by many experts to be a high draft selection in 2010. Additonally, 13 ASU players have either been drafted or signed NFL free agent contracts since Roberts' first season in 2002.
With five Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards, Roberts has made academics a priority as well for the Red Wolves. ASU consistently places a large number of players on the ASU Athletic Director's Honor Roll and Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll. The most recent ASU AD's Honor Roll saw 45 football players make the list.
Attendance has show significant improvement during the Roberts era. ASU has drawn a crowd of over 20,000 in 15 games all-time at ASU Stadium and six of those have come over the last nine games. Of those 15 games, 11 have been played with Roberts as head coach.
A stadium-record crowd was of 30,427 was on hand to watch ASU play Memphis in 2004, and ASU set the best average attendance mark of 21,105 in 2008.
During his tenure, ASU has upgraded its facilities with a new training room, weight room, locker room, recruiting room and state-of-the-art ProGreen turf on the field.
Roberts was named Arkansas State's 26th head football coach on December 21, 2001, to bring full circle his coaching odyssey from his home state through Louisiana and back. But, the trek has been a successful one, including an 8-4 record and national ranking in Division I-AA in 2000 at Northwestern (La.) State.
Roberts spent two seasons at NSU, where he and his staff and team took on a tough schedule which included a 27-24 overtime upset at TCU. While at NSU, Roberts was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award. Prior to going to NSU, Roberts served as the head coach and defensive coordinator at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia from 1994-99. While there, his 1997 team won the Gulf South Championship, earning him Gulf South Coach of the Year honors. The Muleriders finished with a cumulative record of 26-5 from 1997-99, including 9-1 in 1999, 8-2 in 1998 and 9-2 in 1997.
During that span, his teams enjoyed top conference rankings in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense. At SAU, he also served as the defensive secondary coach and recruiting coordinator from 1990-94 before being named head coach. Academically, his program ranked first in academic achievements in the Gulf South Conference three seasons.
Roberts, an avid fisherman, graduated from Robinson High School in Little Rock. A 1987 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, where he was an Academic All-American, Roberts received his masters from SAU in 1989. He and his wife Sherri have one daughter - Abby (14).
ROBERTS' ASU HIGHLIGHTS
- Roberts has led Arkansas State to its most victories over an eight-year span since 1985-92.
- Already holds the fifth most wins among ASU's 26 all-time head coaches.
- 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.
- Under Roberts, ASU has been bowl eligible three of the last five seasons.
- Holds non-conference victories over teams such as Tulsa, Army, SMU, Memphis and Texas A&M. The 2008 victory over the Aggies was one of the biggest wins in school history as ASU picked up its first victory over a BCS conference school since joining the FBS.
- Led ASU to the 2005 Sun Belt Conf. Championship, the Red Wolves' first league championship since 1986.
- The Red Wolves were undefeated at home in 2005 and are 29-10 at ASU Stadium under Roberts.
- ASU's 2005 New Orleans Bowl appearance was the first for ASU since the 1970 Pecan Bowl.
- Under Roberts the Red Wolves have picked up 70 all-conference selections, including at least 10 three of the last five years. ASU had 11 players named all-conference in 2008, its most ever as a member of the SBC. ASU placed 10 players on the list in 2002, 2005 and 2006 and nine in 2007.
- Roberts has coached a Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, two Defensive Player of the Year winners and a Newcomer of the Year. In 2006, he coached two players that were named to at least one Freshman All-America team.
- The Red Wolves finished in the top 10 turnarounds by a Division I-A school his first season at the helm, going from 2-9 in 2001 to 6-7 in 2002.
THE ROBERTS FILE
- Born: October 13, 1964
- Age: 45
- Wife: Sherri
- Daughter: Abby
- Alma Mater: Ouachita Baptist (Arkadelphia, Ark.) '87, B.S.E., Math and Physical Education
- Graduate School: Southern Arkansas Univ. (Magnolia, Ark.), Master of Education, 1989
- Record at ASU: 41-55 (8 years)
- Overall Record: 90-88-1 (16 years)
- Previous Coaching Experience: Northwestern State (Head Coach, 2000-01), Southern Arkansas (Head Coach, 1994-99; Assistant Coach, 1990-93), Texas High School (Assistant Coach, 1988-89), Southern Arkansas (Asst. Coach, 1987)
- High School: Robinson (Little Rock, AR) HS
ROBERTS YEAR-BY-YEAR (HC)
- 2009 Arkansas State, 4-8, T6th Sun Belt
- 2008 Arkansas State, 6-6, T3rd Sun Belt
- 2007 Arkansas State, 5-7, T5th Sun Belt
- 2006 Arkansas State, 6-6, T3rd Sun Belt
- 2005 Arkansas State, 6-6, T1st Sun Belt
- 2004 Arkansas State, 3-8, 5th Sun Belt
- 2003 Arkansas State, 5-7, T4th Sun Belt
- 2002 Arkansas State, 6-7, 3rd Sun Belt
- 2001 Northwestern St., 8-4
- 2000 Northwestern St., 6-5
- 1999 Southern Arkansas, 9-1
- 1998 Southern Arkansas, 8-2
- 1997 Southern Arkansas, 9-2
- 1996 Southern Arkansas, 4-6
- 1995 Southern Arkansas, 4-6
- 1994 Southern Arkansas, 1-7-1