GoDaddy Bowl Has AState in a Good Mood

The joke was going to be that Blake Anderson was headed to Nebraska. Anderson, about to be the first active head coach to lead the Arkansas State Red Wolves into a bowl game, was all in for the joke.

But before Arkansas State could announce it was headed back to the GoDaddy Bowl for a fourth straight year, word leaked that the Red Wolves were truly Mobile-bound again. AStateNation.com broke the news Tuesday night that another GoDaddy Bowl was in the school's future.

In recent years, a press conference this time of the year usually was about another coaching search.

"None of y’all know what to do right now,'' said Anderson to the media at the press conference. "The fact that I am sitting here, y’all don’t even know how to handle this thing do you? Huh?"

Even Red Wolves quarterback Fredi Knighten enjoyed the moment with his own joke.

"We were making a joke outside, which is more believable us not going to a bowl game or him going to Nebraska,'' said Knighten with a smile.

But Anderson has in his plans being the first AState head coach in Mobile without interim in his title when the Red Wolves hit the field on January 4.

“For the record I am planning to go,” he said. “We have a plan and that is exactly what we just got through talking about. This is a great end for the senior class. If we can find a way to win it. They have 36 victories; I think there is only 1 senior class that has more. You talk about Crash Davis, he was a great philosopher. You don’t mess with a streak. For four years in a row …we want to continue that. We want to build on going to bowl games every year being bowl eligible every year. I've been at places that didn’t have that. So guess to be in a position where we can do that and to me that is huge. They built the platform to continue that in the future.

“But y’all took my thunder. I was going to try and make ‘em (players) sweat a little bit today. It all went out yesterday so I had to decide what I was going to do. They said they would have believed it a lot more if you had come in and say you were going to Nebraska.”

Athletic director Terry Mohajir got the word Monday afternoon after Georgia Southern’s appeal was denied by the NCAA.

“These guys deserved to go,’’ said Mohajir. “I vowed before that before this process started we would do everything we can to make this happen. They earned it, they deserve and we are going. We are excited to be going back. We have been working on this before the Texas State game. We got our stuff out. We have a great creative service department. They put some stuff out for us. We never really knew what the situation was. We just found out yesterday afternoon. Around 3:30 we learned that the Georgia Southern waiver was denied.

Any time you can go to a bowl, on the moon, or Alaska or Mobile. It's fantastic. It is the greatest bowl in the world. You know why, because you are invited. And guess what, there are people staying home. There are people who are staying home this year who are bowl eligible. The fact that we are going is exciting. It should energize our fan base, our Red Wolves community. The Red Wolf Nation needs to get down there.”

Anderson said the Red Wolves would be a healthier team for the game.

“This is a great opportunity,” the coach said. “It does play in our favor that we have 2, maybe 3 more weeks to get healthy. It is right in the middle of the recruiting area that we spend a lot of time in. There are so many good reasons but that 2 extra weeks will benefit. It really gives us a chance to be as healthy as we have been all year, since maybe Utah State and ULM. We have not really been healthy since. And you can see that in some of the games as the season went on. This will give some of the guys a chance to feel a little better.”

The Red Wolves finished the season 7-5 but lost two of the final three games.

“I’ve been in that situation before, and didn’t get to go,’’ said Anderson. “I’ve seen some really good football teams left at home. We try to control what we can control. I really told the players the same thing. All we can do is go out and play the best we can play. With the way they finished up here at home on Senior Day against New Mexico State that made as big a statement as we could.

“We are not a team that is ready for the season to be over with.”