Arkansas State Adding Home & Home with Missouri Big News



Jeff Reed Author PageThe news from Jonesboro on Wednesday was big.

It was not unexpected, but still very, very big.

Arkansas State announced a two-game home-and-home series with new Southeastern Conference member Missouri that will begin this fall. The Red Wolves will play at Columbia, Mo., on Sept. 28.

That is not the real big news.

Arkansas State has played eight different SEC teams over the years, and Mizzou will not even be the only one on the 2013 schedule. The second game of the season is at Auburn against former coach Gus Malzahn, a game some in Jonesboro have nicknamed “Auburngeddon.”

But the big news is that on Sept. 12, 2015 the Tigers will visit Jonesboro’s Liberty Bank Stadium, which has a capacity of a little more than 30,000. No doubt, it will be the biggest game and biggest crowd in school history, especially since part of the Tigers’ fan base is less than an hour from the A-State campus.

For the record, Mizzou is not the first SEC team to visit the stadium in Jonesboro. In 2002, Eli Manning and the Ole Miss Rebels visited ASU and went home with a 52-17 victory. The game drew a crowd of a little more than 20,000.

But in the past decade things have changed at what new athletic director Terry Mohajir, an ASU alumnus, calls “that sleepy little ol’ school in northeast Arkansas.” Well, actually he says ASU is no longer that. But you get the point. (Read Mohajir’s thoughts on scheduling from an interview with Jeff Reed we ran last week by clicking here.)

The past two seasons, Arkansas State and its football program has gone from mole hill to a mountain. Is it getting near the pinnacle of college football? No. But it is a far cry from where it was when we all survived the Y2K crisis. Festive crowds of 25,000-plus are becoming common and the tailgating has become a social event.

In an interview two weeks ago, Mohajir told Sporting Life Arkansas the Red Wolves had a game coming with a “high level AQ-school” and the contract was a two-game home-and-home series.

AQ (automatic qualifier) schools — all of the heavyweight college football conferences that are often wrongly identified as BCS —  rarely make visits toRed Wolves Recruiting Guide the homes of those who are usually called mid-majors. Louisville, then a member of the Big East, did play a home-and-home with ASU in recent years. The Ole Miss game was part of a 3-for-1 deal, which is about the norm.

As the interview was breaking up, Mohajir added, off the record at the time, it was an SEC school.

Getting Mizzou to come to Jonesboro is a big coup for the new AD, who has been impressive since taking over the program with his openness and new ideas. He was faced with a scheduling crisis when he got on board and no games were booked for 2014 and beyond. He now has one on the books now for 2014 and 2015.

Then, to add to the crisis, what was to be an eight-game Sun Belt schedule became seven with the loss of four teams to Conference USA.

Getting Missouri under any circumstances is nice work. Fixing a crisis with them is impressive.

Tags: , , ,