Jeff Reed: Arkansas State Coaching Search Attracting Up-And-Comers



Jeff Reed Author PagePerception can be a wonderful thing. Reality is lots better, and way more telling.

And right now the reality is Arkansas State University is a coveted destination for college football coaches. And of course since A-State is in the business of hiring a new coach each December needing to fill a desired job is not a bad thing. You want your coaches to be wanted, and you certainly want some of the nation’s top talent wanting to be next in line.

So about the time the late Karen Carpenter starts singing Christmas songs on the radio, Terry Mohajir, the Arkansas State athletic director, begins searching for his next head coach.

The last four years the image of Arkansas State has changed.  In spite of the changes at the head of the football program, the Red Wolves have earned three straight (one shared) Sun Belt Conference titles and are now headed to their third straight bowl game. It is no longer a middle-of-the-road Sun Belt Conference team that might reach bowl eligibility and maybe get a bowl invite. The perception now is victories are expected in Jonesboro.

It is because of that, we expect the next Red Wolves’ coach to again attract the college football world.  It is what has become the norm. And from what we are hearing, the up-and-comers are calling A-State, not the other way around.

Just expect the next A-State coach to have an offensive background and run some sort of hurry up no huddle offense with lots of options.

This is Mohajir’s second go-round at hiring a coach. On the job for less than three months he, along with system president Dr. Chuck Welch and campus chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson, worked to find a replacement for Gus Malzahn a year ago. It was a search that took eight days and the final stop was Austin, Texas to talk with the Texas Longhorns’ co-offensive coordinator, Bryan Harsin.

A-State followers have faith in their leaders.

While the administration is going about its duties of bringing in the fifth coach in five seasons, the fan base seems to be taking this move more in stride. There is not the anger that was seen after the departure of Hugh Freeze to Ole Miss and Gus Malzahn to Auburn.

You have to wonder if the A-State Nation is getting used to losing a coach after a season, or is there more at play here.

There is no doubt Harsin lost some of the fan base with the disaster in Memphis – a team the Red Wolves had dominated the previous two seasons turn it around on Arkansas State a perfect Saturday afternoon in Memphis. ASU had no life and showed very little spark that day, except for one drive that ended with a J.D. McKissic Superman impersonation for the only score. The final was 31-7 to a team that would end its season with only three victories. There was a lot of red-and-black in the stands that day and the spirit was zapped out of them.

Then there was the Louisiana-Lafayette loss at home on national television and the escape act against winless Georgia State. The pattern of fading attendance come November had returned. There weren’t many in the stands for the season finale. And there are those who point out that after Harsin gave up the play calling the Red Wolves went 4-1 and that one loss to Western Kentucky was controversial.

So we move on and the coach who left Wednesday to go home will become just another part of the answer to ASU’s historic trivia question someday – who were the five coaches in five years?

There are many in the ASU family would like a do-over when it comes to a football coach.

And that is what we have now. And for the administrators  of A-State, this is business as usual.


Jeff Reed (@ASUJeffReed) is editor of

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