Anderson exits; A-State starts search

Anderson exits; A-State starts search

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JONESBORO – Arkansas State vice chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir announced Thursday that head football coach Blake Anderson has resigned to accept the same position at Utah State.

Arkansas State assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf has been named interim head coach, and a national search to fill the head football coach position at A-State begins immediately.

“We appreciate Coach Anderson’s contributions to our program,” Mohajir said. “He is the only head coach in our FBS history to win two conference championships, and he played for a third while also leading us to six bowl games. We wish him the best moving forward.”

The national search for A-State’s next head football coach will be led by Mohajir along with A-State chancellor Dr. Kelly Damphousse and A-State system president Dr. Charles Welch.

“We’re excited about this search,” Mohajir said. “We believe we have an attractive program, and that we’ll have a great pool of candidates. We look forward to finding our next head coach to continue advancing our program and building our emerging brand.”

A-State named Anderson its 30th head football coach on Dec. 19, 2013. He exits with 51 career victories, which ties Bill Davidson for the third most in school history.  Anderson led the program to back-to-back Sun Belt titles in 2015 and 2016 and competed for another in 2017 in A-State’s regular-season finale that was a de facto championship game.

“I had the privilege of watching Blake interact with his student-athletes behind the scenes, and I know how much he cares about their development beyond the playing field,” Damphousse said. “Importantly, I can tell that the students know it, too. Beth (Damphousse) grew to be very fond of Blake, Wendy (Anderson), and their children over the years. We are sad to see Blake go, but we are excited about his future. He is leaving our football program better than he found it.”

Under Anderson’s direction, A-State played in six straight bowl games from 2014 through 2019.  The Red Wolves claimed the 2016 Cure Bowl title when they defeated UCF 31-13, and they also ended the 2019 season with a 34-26 win over FIU in the Camellia Bowl.

The Anderson-led Red Wolves were one of just 20 FBS programs in the nation, including six from the Group of Five, to post a winning record six consecutive seasons from 2014-19.  A-State’s 51 wins under Anderson were tied for the 41st most in the country during his seven seasons at the helm.  He also posted 38 Sun Belt Conference wins at A-State, a total that stands as the second most ever by any of the conference’s all-time head coaches.

Not including 2020, Anderson coached 65 different players to 97 All-Sun Belt Conference selections – the most in the league from 2014-19.  Including defensive Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, quarterback Justice Hansen and wide receiver Omar Bayless, the Red Wolves had three players named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year four times with Anderson serving as head coach.

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