Arkansas State Red Wolves football

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Arkansas State Red Wolves football
2014 Arkansas State Red Wolves football team
Arkansas red wolves logo.png
First season 1911; 103 years ago (1911)
Athletic director Terry Mohajir
Head coach Blake Anderson[1]
1st year, 7–5 (.583)
Home stadium Centennial Bank Stadium
Stadium capacity 30,964
Stadium surface Pro Green
Location Jonesboro, Arkansas
League NCAA Division I (FBS)
Conference Sun Belt
Past conferences Independent (1911–1929, 1951–1963, 1987–1992, 1996–1998)
Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (1930–1950)
Southland Conference (1964–1986)
Big West Conference (1993–1995, 1999–2000)
All-time record 451–470–37 (.490)
Postseason bowl record 2–2 (.500)
Conference titles 10

Scarlet and Black

Fight song ASU Loyalty
Mascot Howl
Marching band Sound of the Natural State
Rivals Louisiana–Monroe

The Arkansas State Red Wolves football team represents Arkansas State University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football competition. The team was originally founded in 1911, and, since 2001, Arkansas State has competed as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The team is currently coached by Blake Anderson. Until 2008, the team's name was the Arkansas State Indians.


Early years (1911–1953)[edit]

The school itself was founded in 1909, and, two years later, Arkansas State fielded its first football team. In 1918, the team was temporarily disbanded due to the First World War. Arkansas State played without conference affiliation until 1929 when it joined the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. From 1937 until 1953, Arkansas State competed as a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).[2] After the 1941 season the football program was interrupted due to World War II and did not resume until the 1945 season. The school left the AIC in 1950 and would remain independent of conference affiliation for the next 12 years.

During the 1950s under coach Forrest England, ASU emerged as a bit of a regional football power, appearing in four post-season bowl games from 1951 to 1953. The Indians compiled a 48-22-9 record under England. The Indians played in two different bowls at the end of the 1951 season, winning the Refrigerator Bowl and losing the Tangerine Bowl (now known as the Capitol One Bowl). The Indians lost the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl and tied the 1953 Tangerine Bowl.[3]

College Division years (1953–1972)[edit]

In 1953, Arkansas State moved to the NCAA, and played as a member of the College Division through 1972.[2] The early part of this era was characterized by mediocre records under several short-term head coaches. In 1962 head coach King Block departed for Nebraska where he was to serve as defensive line coach.

Bennie Ellender was promoted from defensive backs coach to head coach, replacing Block in 1963 just prior to ASU joining the Southland Conference. Ellender would serve for 8 seasons compiling a 52-20-4 record culminating in an undefeated 11-0 College Division National Championship year in 1970. This championship season included a victory over Central Missouri State in the Pecan Bowl, the Indians 3rd consecutive bowl appearance under Ellender and 3rd straight Southland Conference championship. Ellender departed after the 1970 season to accept the head football coach position at his alma mater Tulane.

Centennial Bank Stadium, formerly known as Liberty Bank Stadium

Divisional realignment years (1973–1991)[edit]

In 1973, under head coach Bill Davidson, the Indians were reassigned to NCAA Division II. They remained in this classification for one year before being promoted to Division I.[2] Arkansas State recorded an undefeated season (going 11-0) in Division I in 1975 and was one of only two undefeated Division I football teams that year. Arkansas State ia one of only four institutions to have gone undefeated and not win a National Championship at the Division I-A (now Division I FBS) level. Since Arkansas State was a member of the Southland Conference, and the league did not have a bowl game tie-in, Arkansas State was not selected for post-season play despite being undefeated. As a result of this inequity, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana was created (though ASU has never played in the game). Davidson retired after the 1978 season due to health problems. Davidson compiled a 51-32-1 record during his tenure.

An Arkansas State player in home uniform.

During the 1980s, under head coach Larry Lacewell, Arkansas State played in the NCAA Division I-AA (now Division I FCS) compiling a 69-58-4 record and making four appearances in the playoffs, including a loss in the national championship game in 1986 to Georgia Southern, 48-21. After the 1986 season Arkansas State left the Southland Conference and became a I-AA Independent. Lacewell left ASU in 1989 after 11 season to accept an offer to be Johnny Majors' defensive coordinator at Tennessee.

Lacewell's departure came as the decision was being reached for Arkansas State to pursue entry into what is now Division I FBS.

FBS transition years (1992–2010)[edit]

The transition from I-AA (FCS) to I-A (FBS) football was a painful one for Arkansas State. The school spent most of the decade as a I-A Independent with two separate two-year stints as a member of the Big West Conference.

Al Kincaid came to Jonesboro from his post as an assistant at Alabama. He served as head coach for two seasons, posting 4-17-1 record before his dismissal. Kincaid was replaced by former Alabama head coach Ray Perkins. Perkins tenure was highly anticipated but ultimately a failure as he posted a 2-9 record in one season before joining Bill Parcells' staff with the New England Patriots as offensive coordinator.

Perkins was replaced by offensive line coach John Bobo who oversaw moderate improvements to the team's performance including ASU's first winning record since the start of the transition but he was unable to sustain that success and was fired after the 1996 season.

Bobo was replaced by the highly sought after offensive coordinator at Ohio State, Joe Hollis. Hollis was unable to adapt and posted a 13-43 record in five seasons before being relieved after the 2001 season.

In 2001 the Sun Belt Conference added football and Arkansas State joined the conference as an inaugural football member.

Steve Roberts came to Arkansas State from Northwestern State and was ASU's head football coach for nine seasons (2002-2010), where he compiled a 45-63 record. Although Roberts finished with an overall losing record at Arkansas State, the ASU football program made great strides under his leadership. During the 2005 football season, Arkansas State finished the regular season as Sun Belt Conference champions with a record of 6 wins and 5 losses and was invited to the New Orleans Bowl. This was the school's first bowl game since the trip to the 1970 Pecan Bowl and subsequent national college division championship. The Indians lost to The University of Southern Mississippi in the game, which was played that year in the city of Lafayette, Louisiana due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2008, Arkansas State changed its name from the Indians to the Red Wolves and defeated Texas A&M in their inaugural game with the new mascot. Players recruited by Roberts were the foundation of the highly successful teams of the "One and Done" era.

The One and Done era (2011–2013)[edit]

This three year period saw the Red Wolves achieve remarkable success on the field in the midst of unprecedented turnover in its coaching staff. The players recruited by Steve Roberts saw three conference championships, three bowl games, and two 10-win seasons under three different head coaches. Red Wolf players played all three bowl games without their head coach and with depleted coaching staffs. The program's continued success during the adversity of constant coaching changes received considerable national attention.

Hugh Freeze (2011)[edit]

Hugh Freeze

In 2011, led by first year head coach Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State went undefeated in the Sun Belt conference, a perfect 8-0 record, as well as going 10-2 overall. After the last regular season game, Freeze took the head coaching job at Ole Miss, taking four assistants with him.[4] Running backs coach David Gunn was named the interim head coach and led the team to Mobile, Alabama for the 2012 Bowl. In that bowl, held on January 8, 2012, the Red Wolves were led by quarterback Ryan Aplin, as they squared off against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Northern Illinois rallied back from a thirteen-point deficit for a 38-20 victory. Also in attendance in Mobile was Gus Malzahn, who was named Arkansas State's new head football coach on December 14, 2011.[5]

Gus Malzahn (2012)[edit]

Gus Malzahn came to the Red Wolves from Auburn, where he had served the previous three seasons as offensive coordinator. In 2012, Arkansas State lost only one game in the Sun Belt Conference. For the first time in school history, they had back to back 10 win seasons (10-3 in 2012) and back to back Sun Belt conference championships. On December 4, 2012, Malzahn announced his return to Auburn as head coach,[6] thus making it two years in a row the team would be coached by an interim in the post season. John Thompson coached the team to 17-13 victory at the 2013 Bowl against #25 Kent State on January 6, 2013. Former Texas Longhorns football offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was named on December 11, 2012 to succeed the departing Malzahn.

Bryan Harsin (2013)[edit]

In 2013, Arkansas State under Bryan Harsin won the Sun Belt Conference, and received a bid to the GoDaddy Bowl for the 3rd time in as many years with a 7-5 (5-2 conference) regular season record. They were deemed co-champions this year with the UL-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns who were also 5-2 in conference. Before the GoDaddy Bowl, Harsin joined his predecessors in announcing his departure after one season to coach at his alma mater, Boise State.[7] Harsin's contract included a $1.75 million buyout which was paid by Boise State. Defensive Coordinator John Thompson coached the team in the GoDaddy Bowl where Arkansas State blocked a Ball State field goal in the final seconds to hold on to a 23-20 win.[8]

Blake Anderson era (2014-)[edit]

On December 19, 2013, Arkansas State hired Blake Anderson as the new head coach away from his offensive coordinator post at the University of North Carolina.[9] In an attempt to end the "One and Done" era and provide much-needed coaching stability, Arkansas State placed a hefty buyout provision in Anderson's $700,000 per year five year contract specifying a $3 million buyout for the first two years, $2 million for the third and fourth years, and $1 million in the final year.

Division history[edit]

Year Division
1937-1952 NJCAA
1953-1955 NCAA (pre-divisional split)
1956-1972 NCAA College Division (Small College)
1973-1974 NCAA Division II
1975-1977 NCAA Division I
1978-1981 NCAA Division I-A
1982-1991 NCAA Division I-AA
1992-2005 NCAA Division I-A
2006-present NCAA Division FBS

All-time record vs. Sun Belt teams[edit]

Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current Sun Belt opponents as of the start of the 2014 season:

Opponent Won Lost Tied Percentage Streak First Last
Appalachian State 0 0 0 - - -
Georgia Southern 0 1 0 .000 Lost 1 1986 1986
Georgia State 2 0 0 1.000 Won 2 2013 2014
Idaho 5 4 0 .556 Won 1 1975 2013
Louisiana–Lafayette 19 22 1 .464 Lost 1 1953 2013
Louisiana–Monroe 22 14 0 .611 Won 5 1959 2014
New Mexico State 2 6 0 .250 Won 1 1993 2003
South Alabama 2 0 0 1.000 Won 2 2012 2013
Texas State 1 0 0 1.000 Won 1 2013 2013
Troy 9 5 0 .643 Won 3 1950 2013
Totals 62 52 1 .543

Postseason games[edit]

College Division/Other Bowl Games[edit]

Year Bowl Score
1951 Refrigerator Bowl Arkansas State 46 Camp Breckinridge 12
1952 Tangerine Bowl Stetson 35 Arkansas State 20
1952 Refrigerator Bowl Western Kentucky 34 Arkansas State 19
1954 Tangerine Bowl Arkansas State 7 East Texas State 7
1968 Pecan Bowl North Dakota State 23 Arkansas State 14
1969 Pecan Bowl Arkansas State 29 Drake 21
1970 Pecan Bowl Arkansas State 38 Central Missouri State 21

NCAA Division I-AA playoff games[edit]

Year Playoff Score
1984 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 37 Tennessee-Chattanooga 10
1984 I-AA Quarterfinals Montana State 31 Arkansas State 14
1985 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 10 Grambling 7
1985 I-AA Quarterfinals Nevada 24 Arkansas State 23
1986 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 48 Sam Houston State 7
1986 I-AA Quarterfinals Arkansas State 55 Delaware 23
1986 I-AA Semifinals Arkansas State 24 Eastern Kentucky 10
1986 I-AA Championship Game Georgia Southern 48 Arkansas State 21
1987 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 35 Jackson State 32
1987 I-AA Quarterfinals Northern Iowa 49 Arkansas State 28

NCAA Division I FBS Bowl Games[edit]

Season Bowl Score
2005 New Orleans Bowl Southern Miss 31 Arkansas State 19
2011 Bowl Northern Illinois 38 Arkansas State 20
2012 Bowl Arkansas State 17 Kent State 13
2013 GoDaddy Bowl Arkansas State 23 Ball State 20
2014 GoDaddy Bowl Arkansas State Toledo



Main article: Paint Bucket Bowl

In 2004, the Memphis Tigers defeated Arkansas State 47-35 before 30,427 fans, the largest crowd to ever watch a game at then-named Indian Stadium. In 2006, Arkansas State beat Memphis at the Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee after a last second Hail Mary touchdown to secure the win, 26-23, and end a ten-game losing streak to the Tigers. The teams met again in 2007 at Indian Stadium, where the Indians rallied in the second half to beat the Tigers 35-31 after trailing 31-6 at halftime. The schools have met 58 times, with the Tigers leading the series 30-23-5.


Both schools were nicknamed the Indians until the NCAA banned the native American nickname. ULM changed their nickname to the Warhawks in 2006, and ASU changed their nickname to the Red Wolves in 2008. Arkansas State leads the overall series against ULM (22-14), and is currently on a five-game winning streak in the series. ASU won the first meeting in Jonesboro in 1959, 15-0. ASU and ULM have been conference foes in the Southland and the Sun Belt. The rivals shared the Sun Belt title in 2005. The series is alternates every year between Jonesboro and Monroe, Louisiana.


This game has decided the Sun Belt Conference Championship in recent years.

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
at USC vs Toledo vs Miami vs UNLV at Iowa State vs Iowa State
vs Missouri at Auburn at UNLV
at Toledo vs Central Arkansas
vs Missouri State at Utah State



Current NFL players[edit]

Former players[edit]