Jeff Reed: Jonesboro Readies for Biggest Game in A-State History


The last time we saw something like this in Jonesboro it was not a good year. Not good for Arkansas State or the nation.

In 2001, just weeks after the mortifying 9/11 attacks on our country, Ole Miss and Eli Manning played in what was then Indian Stadium.

On the way to a 2-10 season, the Indians started 0-3 with losses at Georgia and Baylor and a home defeat to I-AA Jacksonville State.

The fourth game of the season, Oct. 6, 2001, was against Eli and the Rebels. And with dad Archie in the stands, those Rebels won 35-17 as the youngest subject of the Book of Manning was 20 of 29 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. In all, there is not much good to say about that season. About the only positives were victories over Idaho and UL-Lafayette and Jonathan Adams rushing for 1,000 yards.

It even ended on a sour note, with Joe Hollis being fired, technically in the closing minutes of a loss to I-AA Nichols State in the season finale. Seems everyone in the house, and there weren’t many, knew Hollis was fired but the coach, who found out after the game.

Hollis’ tenure ended 13-43 and in many way marked the turnaround of the A-State football program, which has turned the corner in the last four years.

Hollis was replaced by Steve Roberts, who won a conference title and provided the program with a consistency and a foundation that paid off after he was let go in 2010. It was Roberts who brought in the talent that turned the corner.

By now we are all familiar with what all has happened the last four years. Three conference titles, four bowl games, a victory over a Top 25 team and of course, four head coaches.

That brings us to where we are today, on the eve of the biggest game in A-State history.

First you have two-time Missouri, out of the mighty Southeastern Conference, coming to town. That is the handiwork of A-State athletic director Terry Mohajir, who signed a home-and-home agree with the Tigers three years ago. In 2013 they played in Columbia with the home game set for Jonesboro in 2015.

ASU turned down a lot of money — $2 from Kansas City and $1.5 from St. Louis – to keep the game in Jonesboro. Some have raised a fuss about the ticket prices but that is the cost of having the game on the home turf. They would likely be the same crowd complaining about having the game in Missouri.

And with the game comes the unveiling of what is new at Centennial Bank Stadium. There is a new indoor facility on the north end zone hill and the 40,000-square foot, three level press box that had a price tag of around $26 million. There are 18 suites, 42 loge boxes and 300 club seats.

It is the crowning achievement for Mohajir, an Arkansas State graduate and ex-football player, so far.

And we mean that – so far.

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Jeff Reed is editor of

new stadium in jonesboro


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