Arkansas State Red Wolves football

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Arkansas State Red Wolves football
2018 Arkansas State Red Wolves football team
Arkansas State Red Wolves wordmark.svg
First season 1911; 107 years ago (1911)
Athletic director Terry Mohajir
Head coach Blake Anderson[1]
5th season, 33–21 (.611)
Stadium Centennial Bank Stadium
(Capacity: 30,964)
Field surface Pro Green
Location Jonesboro, Arkansas
NCAA division Division I FBS
Conference Sun Belt Conference
Division West
Past conferences Big West (1999–2000)
Independent (1996–1998)
Big West (1993–1995)
Independent (1987–1992)
Southland (1964–1986)
Independent (1951–1963)
Arkansas IC (1930–1950)
Independent (1911–1929)
All-time record 451–470–37 (.490)
Bowl record 3–5 (.375)
Playoff appearances Div. I FCS: 4
Playoff record Div. I FCS: 6–4
Claimed nat'l titles Div. I FCS: 1 (1970)
Unclaimed nat'l titles Div. I FCS: 1 (1986)
Conference titles 12
Rivalries Louisiana–Monroe
Texas State
Appalachian State
Colors Scarlet and Black[2]
Fight song ASU Loyalty
Mascot Howl
Marching band Sound of the Natural State
Arkansas State took on Troy in a decisive matchup for the Sun Belt Conference Title on Dec. 2nd 2017. Troy went on to win by a score of 32–25.

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 founded in 1911, and, since 2001, Arkansas State has competed as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. Their home field is Centennial Bank Stadium, on campus in Jonesboro, and the current head coach is Blake Anderson.

In 105 seasons of football, the Red Wolves have won over 450 games, appeared in seven bowl games and claimed eleven conference championships. Arkansas State's most recent conference championship came in 2016 as they claimed their fifth title in six years.

Until 2008, the team's name was the Arkansas State Indians.


Early years (1911–1953)[edit]

The school 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).[3] 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, A-State 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 bowls at the end of the 1951 season, winning the Refrigerator Bowl and losing the Tangerine Bowl (now known as the Capital One Bowl). The Indians lost the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl and tied the 1953 Tangerine Bowl.[4]

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.[3] 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 A-State 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 assigned to the newly created Division II. They remained in this classification for one year before being promoted to Division I.[3] 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 is 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 A-State 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 A-State in 1989 after 11 seasons 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 A-State'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 A-State'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 A-State 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. The NCAA required Arkansas State to forfeit six football wins from the 2006 season and four from 2005 season in football saying the school used ineligible players. The NCAA also said that it has cut one football for two years. The penalties stem from the school allowing 31 ineligible athletes during the 2005–08 seasons because of a failure to meet NCAA rules on progress-toward-degree requirements.

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 Years (2011–2013)[edit]

This three-year period saw the Red Wolves achieve remarkable success on the field in the midst of turnover in its coaching staff. The players recruited by Steve Roberts played in three conference championships and three bowl games, and had 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.[5] 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.[6]

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,[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

Blake Anderson era (2014–present)[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.[1] 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.

The Red Wolves opened the 2015 season 0–2 with losses to both #8 USC and #21 Missouri. Arkansas State would go on to win 9 of the next 11 with victories over App State and rival Louisiana-Monroe. With their win over App State on November 5, the Red Wolves glided to their 4th Sun Belt title since 2010 and an appeance in the New Orleans Bowl.

Expectations were high for the 2016 season but the Red Wolves started the campaign with four straight losses to Toledo, Auburn, Utah State and in-state FCS opponent Central Arkansas. But during Sun Belt Conference play the Red Wolves reeled off six straight victories including a road win against #25 Troy that denied the Trojans a share of the Sun Belt crown. The Red Wolves had a chance to secure a sole conference championship by winning its last two games but faltered when a last-second touchdown was reversed by replay at Louisiana. The Red Wolves secured a win in their final regular season game at Texas State which assured them of a shared conference championship with Appalachian State. The Red Wolves were selected for the 2016 Cure Bowl where they defeated UCF 31–13 in their own hometown.

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–present NCAA Division I-A/FBS

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

Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current Sun Belt opponents:

Opponent Wins Losses Ties Percentage Streak First Last
Appalachian State 1 1 0 .500 Won 1 2014 2015
Coastal Carolina 1 0 0 1.000 Won 1 2017 2017
Georgia Southern 2 1 0 .667 Won 1 1986 2017
Georgia State 4 0 0 1.000 Won 4 2013 2016
Louisiana–Lafayette 21 23 1 .478 Won 1 1953 2017
Louisiana–Monroe 23 14 0 .622 Won 6 1959 2015
South Alabama 5 0 0 1.000 Won 5 2012 2016
Texas State 3 1 0 .750 Won 2 2013 2016
Troy 10 5 0 .667 Won 4 1950 2016
Totals 70 45 1 .608

Postseason games[edit]

College division and other bowl games[edit]

Arkansas State (then known as the Indians) went 2–3–1 in six games that were "College Division" bowl games prior to the NCAA instituting playoffs for lower division teams in 1973. They participated in two bowl game in one season (1951), playing one on December 2nd and the other on January 1st.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1951 Forrest England Refrigerator Bowl Camp Breckinridge W 46–12
1951 Forrest England Tangerine Bowl Stetson L 20–35
1952 Forrest England Refrigerator Bowl Western Kentucky State L 19–34
1953 Forrest England Tangerine Bowl East Texas State T 7–7
1968 Bennie Ellender Pecan Bowl North Dakota State L 23–14
1969 Bennie Ellender Pecan Bowl Drake W 29–21
1970 Bennie Ellender Pecan Bowl Central Missouri State W 38–21

NCAA Division I-AA playoff games[edit]

Season Coach Playoff Opponent Result
1984 Larry Lacewell I-AA First Round
I-AA Quarterfinals
Montana State
W 37–10
L 14–31
1985 Larry Lacewell I-AA First Round
I-AA Quarterfinals
Grambling State
W 10–7
L 24–23
1986 Larry Lacewell I-AA First Round
I-AA Quarterfinals
I-AA Semifinals
I-AA Championship Game
Sam Houston State
Eastern Kentucky
Georgia Southern
W 48–7
W 55–23
W 24–10
L 21–48
1987 Larry Lacewell I-AA First Round
I-AA Quarterfinals
Jackson State
Northern Iowa
W 35–32
L 49–28

NCAA Division I FBS bowl games[edit]

The Red Wolves have played in eight bowl games, garnering a record of 3–5.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
2005 Steve Roberts New Orleans Bowl Southern Miss L 19–31
2011 David Gunn Bowl Northern Illinois L 20–38
2012 John Thompson Bowl Kent State W 17–13
2013 John Thompson GoDaddy Bowl Ball State W 23–20
2014 Blake Anderson GoDaddy Bowl Toledo L 44–63
2015 Blake Anderson New Orleans Bowl Louisiana Tech L 28–47
2016 Blake Anderson Cure Bowl UCF W 31–13
2017 Blake Anderson Camellia Bowl Middle Tennessee L 30–35



The series between the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Memphis Tigers is the oldest as well as the longest the A-State program has had and is the second most often played series for Memphis. The first game was played in 1914.[10]

Some memorable moments in this rivalry include 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 29–24–5.

In 2016, the schools announced the series will be brought back once again starting in 2020. Arkansas State and Memphis have four games slated from 2020–23. The first game will be played in Memphis on September 5th, 2020.[11]


Both schools were nicknamed the Indians until the NCAA banned the Native American nickname. ULM changed their nickname to the Warhawks in 2006, and A-State 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. A-State won the first meeting in Jonesboro in 1959, 15–0. A-State 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. While this particular rivalry is certainly spirited between the two universities and their fan-bases, the series against the Warhawks isn't nearly as heated as it is between the Memphis Tigers and Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns.


Behind the Memphis Tigers, the 43 games played between the Cajuns and Red Wolves are the second most against any school in A-State's history. The first game was played in 1953 and again in 1954, which both teams split. Afterwards both wouldn't meet on the gridiron again until the 1966 season, with A-State winning by one, 17–16. Since then the two universities have met almost on a regular basis (with sporadic one-to-two year gaps). Louisiana Lafayette currently holds the all-time series lead against Arkansas State, 23–20–1. 11 Of the last 14 home games have all been won by the home team.[12]

Texas State[edit]

The affectionately named "Border Brawl" between Arkansas State and Texas State is the newest Rivalry in the Sun Belt Conference. The hate began in the schools first meeting on November 16, 2013, Texas State's inaugural season in the Sun Belt, where Texas State hoped to secure Bowl eligibility. Their hopes were dashed when Arkansas State rallied to defeat the Bobcats 38–21 in Jonesboro. The favor was returned the next season when Texas State would redeem themselves in San Marcos, 45–27, on November 20, 2014. The 2015 matchup saw the Red Wolves clinch their third outright Sun Belt Conference championship in five seasons with a 55–17 throttling of the Bobcats. The series is currently 2–1 in favor of Arkansas State.

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of June 12, 2018.

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
vs SMU at Memphis vs Memphis at Memphis vs Memphis at Iowa State vs Iowa State
at UNLV vs Tulsa vs Central Arkansas
at Georgia at Michigan
vs Southern Illinois



Current NFL players[edit]

Current CFL Players[edit]

Former players[edit]


  1. ^ a b Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "University Colors – Arkansas State University". Retrieved March 27, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Arkansas State Historical Data Archived March 28, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., College Football Data Warehouse, retrieved March 11, 2009.
  4. ^ Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Ole Miss Hires Hugh Freeze". Team Speed Kills. 2011-12-05. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  6. ^ "Arkansas State hires Gus Malzahn". 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  7. ^ Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Arkansas State loses another head coach on way to GoDaddy Bowl". Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  9. ^ "Boise State hires Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin". 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "A-State Football Adds Memphis to Future Schedules - Arkansas State Athletics Official Web Site -". Retrieved 2017-10-22. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Arkansas State Red Wolves Football Schedules and Future Schedules – ASU". Retrieved 2016-11-27. 

External links[edit]