JONESBORO – Arkansas State University Red Wolves athletic director Terry Mohajir said it was no surprise last week when the word became official that Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic will leave the Sun Belt Conference in June, a year earlier than some had expected.
The two schools will pay a penalty for early departure and the remaining eight teams in the Sun Belt will move on and play a seven-game conference schedule.
Mohajir, who arrived on the job in late September, figured there would be seven conference games next year. There were already four non-conference games on the books and one would be added.
“Now all the conference team go out and get another game, which we have all been working on,” he said. “I have been working on this a while.”
Mohajir said he has signed a contract for the 12th game for 2013, which will be played on the road, and a return game, which could be as early as 2014 but more likely 2015. The other school had not signed but they have an agreement, but Mohajir said it is an opponent who will open eyes.
“I have signed an agreement and I need the other AD to sign it then we will make an announcement.” he said. “We play here, possible ’14 or ’15 depending up on their schedule and our schedule.
“I was actually talking with three schools from AQ conferences,” he said. “And we had offers from two of them.”
Here is what we know. There will be six home games next season, and all the games will be in Jonesboro. Since ASU has six home games, that means they conference breakdown will be four home and three away.
“What we have is a high-level AQ school,” he said.
One likely possibility is Missouri. The Tigers, now members of the SEC, are close by and will travel very well to Jonesboro, especially since part of the fanbase is less than hour from the ASU campus. On the school’s website, the 2013 schedule lists 11 games with an open date on Sept. 14 or Sept. 28.
Red Wolves football opens the season on Aug. 31 at home with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Red Wolves play at Auburn on Sept. 7 and at Memphis on Sept. 21. The Idaho game is Oct. 12. The conference schedule has not been released.