as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Friday, December 18, 2015
By TOM HENRY
The Arkansas State Red Wolves Football team will be playing in their 13th all-time bowl game appearance and fifth consecutive bowl game, when on December 19 they face Conference USA member and former stAte nemesis Louisiana Tech in the 15th Annual R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Superdome and on ESPN.
This is the second time for ASU to play in the New Orleans Bowl, however the last time was in 2005 and due to Hurricane Katrina, the game was actually played in Lafayette, La.
stAte has played in the last four GoDaddy Bowl Games, winning in 2012 and 2013. They also played seven bowl games from 1951-1970, including the Pecan Bowl in Arlington, Texas (1968-1970), Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (1950, 1953) and the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind. (1951,1952). ASU’s overall bowl game record is 4-7-1.
stAte has had five consecutive winning seasons and has won four Sun Belt Conference Championships during the past five years. It is the only FBS program in the nation to win four league championships during that period of time.
stAte’s eight-game winning streak is the fourth longest in the nation and its 9-consecutive Sun Belt Conference wins are tied for the nation’s third longest conference winning streak.
stAte’s 44 victories over the last five years is tied for the 20th most in the nation and A-state is one win away from tying the record number of wins by an A-state team in a season (10) since becoming a FBS member in 1992.
Coach Blake Anderson and Athletic Director Terry Mohajir truly are “Building a Monster” in Jonesboro, as stAte is currently receiving votes in both the Associated Press and the Coaches Top 25 polls. They have completed multi-million dollar expansions to the stadium and it’s Johnny Allison Tower and Press Box as well as having completed the construction of an indoor practice facility in its new Student Activity Center.
Anderson’s offensive genius was apparent as the school set all-time scoring records for both the school and the Sun Belt Conference last year. This year…they did it again, shattering their record from last year with 402 points so far this season.
Saturday’s meeting between stAte and Louisiana Tech will be their 38th all-time meeting. The two teams played for 29 consecutive seasons from 1970 until 1998; with La. Tech holding a 25-12 series lead (including winning the last two meetings). The two teams were both members of the Southland Conference from 1971-1986 and the Big West Conference from 1993 until 1995.
However, make no mistake about it, this is an entirely different era for the two teams. This year’s meeting promises to be exciting, especially for us “Indian old timers”.
stAte is clearly the “gold standard” of the Sun Belt Conference and our dominance has proven it. Our facilities are top notch for a “non-power 5 conference” and our fan base has truly “Risen” to the occasion. Half of the current Conference USA roster of teams are merely former Sun Belt Conference teams that ASU annually destroyed on the gridiron. It is time for ASU to move up to a larger conference!
While it is my dream that ASU one day will become an expansion member of the Big XII (or dare I even dream of the SEC), being invited into Conference USA is absolutely a doable thing, feasible and long overdue. We have simply outgrown the Sun Belt. An equal investment in basketball along with continued improvements in Baseball and continued dominance in Women’s Basketball, bowling and volleyball…howl, its time to do it!
With renewed interest by “Indian old timers” and with new created interest by an ever-increasing ASU alumni base (consecutive record enrollments until this year), ASU is rising both on the field and in academia.
Lastly, when you visit a retailer and only see Razorbacks or God forbid it Tennessee, Missouri or Texas sports memorabilia and sportswear but none for Arkansas State (you know that local FBS school only an hour away), demand that they fix it. I am sick and tired of seeing Mississippi, Mississippi State, Memphis, Tennessee and even Notre Dame merchandise in places that don’t even carry ASU stuff.
Also, we have a Mississippi County Razorbacks Club. . . is there a Mississippi County Red Wolves Club? If so, please let me know. If not, let’s do this!