Arkansas State is without a doubt one of the most interesting programs in the Sun Belt, if not the entire land. The last decade and a half have seen plenty of change in Jonesboro, from transitioning to the ranks of the FBS, a mascot name change, and three different Head Coaches bolting after one year of success. We'll touch on that and more in our "Get To Know" piece. (Football History)
Arkansas State (ASU) first fielded a team in 1911 and didn't join the D-1AA ranks, as it was known back then, until 1974. The following season, 1975, the Indians would go 11-0 as a member of the Southland Conference (SLC). Unfortunately, at the time the SLC did not have a bowl tie in, so ASU was left out in the cold without a post-season berth, despite finishing undefeated.
In the next twenty years, ASU would move around from an Independent in D-1AA, to joining the Big West Conference, and finally getting an invite to join the Sun Belt in 2001. It didn't take long before the Indians would leave their mark, winning a share of the Sun Belt conference title in just their fourth season and earning the SBC's nod to play in the New Orleans bowl.
From 2011 through 2013, the Red Wolves would win the Sun Belt three straight years. They would be outright champs in 2011 and 2012, but shared the title this last season with Louisiana Lafayette. All three years they would play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, winning 2 out of 3 match-ups.
Their success would be noticed by many. At the time, 2011 Head Coach Hugh Freeze, would take the Head Coaching job at Ole' Miss and has since put the Rebels on the national scene bringing them to a top ranking. He was replaced by offensive guru Gus Malzahn, who led the Red Wolves to a 10-3 season in 2012, and would also bolt after one year. He would return to the plains of Auburn where he would make an appearance last year in the BCS National Championship game against Florida State.
No one thought that after another conference championship year, a respectable 7-5 record in 2013, that Bryan Harsin would be going anywhere. That was until Chris Peterson decided to leave Boise State, setting up the perfect return for Harsin to his alma-mater. Three straight successful seasons for the Red Wolves, were awarded by each coach leaving for a bigger program and bigger pay day.
(Mascot Name Change)
In today's modern age and the state of political correctness, ASU decided to slowly phase out the mascot name of "Indians" which had been the school mascot since 1931, in honor of the Osage Indian Nation that roamed the Arkansas lands, to Red Wolves. In a home basketball game during February of 2008, the Indian name would be officially retired.
(Notable Football Names)
Fred Barnet, Carlos Emmons, Ray Brown, Corey Williams, Larry Lacewell are just some of the names familiar to NFL fans. Barnet starred for the Eagles, while Emmons is known more from his time with the Steelers. Williams had stints with the Packers and Browns and Lacewell made his mark as a coach and director of scouting for the Dallas Cowboys. Lacewell would retire after 13 seasons in the Cowboy front office.
Some notable names that should sound familiar to Texas State fans are Linebackers Coach Brad Franchione, who is an ASU grad and Defensive Coordinator John Thompson, spent two seasons in the same position for the Red Wolves.
(Campus and Rivals)
ASU is the flagship University of the State School System. The Jonesboro campus is home to just over 13,500 students. System wide it tops 21,000. In 2009, Arkansas State welcomed in it's bicentennial year.
As for rivals on the playing field, the Red Wolves have two. Surprisingly, Memphis University is one of them, and Louisiana-Monroe is the other. ASU has played Memphis more than any other school, with the Tigers holding the series lead 30-23-5.
ULM, which shared the same mascot nickname as ASU, "Indians", before changing to Warhawks, serves as the other heated rival. ASU leads the overall series 22-14, including a win earlier this season by the Red Wolves.
Get To Know: Arkansas State
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