The Werewolf’s Curse: The 2012 Bowl

It is official, Arkansas State University will face Kent State University Jan. 6, 2013 in Mobile, Ala., at the Bowl.

In honor of the announcement, we bring you The Angry Czeck’s column about his experience at last year’s bowl.

Angry Werewolf Of London

January 8th, 2012. I’m a 37-year-old man standing outside a dilapidated football stadium in Mobile, Alabama. And I’m wearing a rubber werewolf mask, spray-painted scarlet red.

“You look cool!” my Dad insists, snapping a picture of me with his smart phone. I’m not so sure. Just an hour before, the werewolf mask seemed like a good idea. Now small children are staring at me with haunted eyes.

“Go walk around,” says my brother, who’s not wearing a werewolf mask. “Whammy the Huskies with the Curse of the Red Wolf!”

Without another word, I turn and lurch through the concourse entry of Ladd-Peebles Stadium, stopping only to howl at startled A-State football fans attempting to enjoy their evening at the 2012 Bowl. I prowl the shadows, looking for fans of the opposing team to apply my mostly-benign curse.

Little did I know that every football fan in attendance that evening was already cursed.


Contrary to popular misconception, this was not A-State’s first Bowl game.

Anyone with access to Wikipedia can tell you that A-State triumphed over Camp Breckinridge in the 1951 Refrigerator Bowl. After that, the program participated in the Tangerine Bowl, the Refrigerator Bowl again, the Tangerine Bowl again, and finally three Pecan Bowls, the last coming in 1970.

After that, zero Bowl games until 2005, when The Indians (the team’s former moniker) were invited to the New Orleans Bowl, which was played in Lafayette thanks to Hurricane Katrina. A-State, which had ended the season a bland 6-5, lost handedly to Southern Miss. It was not a memorable experience.

By contrast, the 2011 Red Wolves ended regular season play with a stellar 10-2 record and a Sun Belt title under dynamic first-year head coach Hugh Freeze. The Bowl extended an invitation, and the Red Wolves gleefully accepted along with the Northern Illinois Huskies, led by MAC first team quarterback Chandler Harnish. These were exciting times.

But before the Bowl game was even played, Hugh Freeze accepted the head coaching position at Ole Miss, leaving a couple of brave but overmatched assistant coaches to manage the Bowl. Even after receiving the unexpected good news of Coach Gus Malzahn’s hire, a dark cloud hung over the Bowl.


At the concourse entryway, there’s a non-uniformed man selling cans of beer from a cooler for five bucks. I’m plenty thirsty beneath the sweaty confines of a rubber werewolf mask, but a cold can of suds is going to have to wait.

I’ve an opposing football team to curse.

Ladd-Peebles Stadium is an ancient grey edifice of sweaty concrete and saggy aluminum seating that, in addition to hosting the Bowl, also hosts The Senior Bowl. The concourse is dank and dark, reminiscent of a medieval dungeon. You can almost see the condemned chained to the wall.

It is the perfect habitat for a Red Werewolf.

“Arrrr-OOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I howl. Somebody nearby exclaims, “Hey, a werewolf!”

As I weave through the crowd, I note a card table set up roughly in the middle of the concourse. Draped over the card table is a clean white tablecloth. A number of liquor bottles are on display. “Premium Well Drinks, $8” reads a handmade sign near a bottle of Jim Beam. A man wearing a tuxedo shirt and black bow tie stands stoically behind the bottles, waiting for business.

For some reason, the combination of the man selling beer out of a cooler and the card table display of “premium well drinks” unnerves me. I look around. I see no evidence of anywhere: no logos, no Danica Patrick, no cardboard cutout of Danica Patrick, no company representatives handing out free t-shirts. Nothing.

Just a card table of booze.

Rattled, I take my wolfen visage across the concourse. I want to step outside to field level and watch the Red Wolves warm up and shake my voodoo fingers at Chandler Harnish. As I exit towards the endzone bleachers, I encounter one last half-hearted kiosk. This time, it’s for a non-prescription product that claims to help cigarette smokers end their nicotine addiction.

I begin to wonder if even cares about their own Bowl.


Ten minutes before kick-off, I’ve begun referring to myself as “Red Wolfington.”

“Red Wolfington says it’s time to find our seats!” I tell my Dad and brother. The latter sips beer provided by the Beer Cooler Man. No one seems interested in a premium well drink.

Ticket stubs in hand, we begin to ascend the aluminum bleachers of Ladd-Peebles Stadium. We climb.

And climb.

And climb.

“I thought you said you were among the first to get tickets!” puffs Dad to my brother as we near the summit of the stadium. My brother objects.

“I did!” he said. “I called the ticket office as soon as the game was announced.”

We’re surrounded by equally as puzzled Red Wolves fans, who clearly didn’t realize that they would be sitting in the Blimp Section. I witness an exhausted elderly lady nearly tumble down the slippery stairs like a Slinky. Red Wolfington is not amused.

“This is bullshit!” I announce. “We’re not watching the GoDaddy Bowl from orbit!”

Dad and my brother follow me back down the steps. We pass a train of huffing and puffing Red Wolves fans. Below, much closer to the field, is a nearly vacant expanse of seating. I casually slide onto a bleacher like I own the joint.

“Let’s just park here until somebody kicks us out,” I suggest.

It’s a well-conceived plan. My brother nods. “Just don’t draw any attention to ourselves,” he recommends. However, I’m wearing a werewolf mask, and soon people are howling at me.


A-State interim coach David Gunn orchestrates a little razzle-dazzle and the Red Wolves lead the 2012 Bowl early. (Thanks to the sorcery of the Internet, you can watch the game in its entirety here.) Festive A-State fans surround us. Several request a picture with Red Wolfington. Nobody asks us to leave our seats.

“Arrrr-OOOOOOOOO” I howl. I begin to relax a little. So what if was an absentee sponsor? Who cares if our tickets were crappy, or that Ladd-Peebles Stadium seemed ready for the wrecking ball? Even the horror of the cigarette-cure kiosk and the sad table of premium well drinks began to fade. This was a Bowl game! We were sitting in pirated seats! And we were winning!

By halftime, however, the glow of victory dims. After building a 13-point lead, Northern Illinois puts up 14 before the half ends. The Red Wolves faithful grumble about questionable officiating. The unease that fills my stomach fails to sate Red Wolfington’s terrible appetite.

“I’m getting a pretzel,” I say sullenly, rising from the bleachers and heading back inside the concourse.

To my surprise, there isn’t a line at all at the concessions. In fact, the concourse is nearly deserted. The Premium Well Drinks Man looks suicidal. I cast my eyes away and stroll to the concessions counter where I’m met by a teenage girl.

“Pretzel, please,” I say.

“Sorry, sir, we’re out of food,” she replies cheerily. “We have Powerade.”

Red Wolfington is stunned. “It’s halftime. This is supposed to be a Bowl game. How can you possibly be out of food?”

The girl shrugs her shoulders. “We have Powerade,” she repeats.


During the second half, just as the Red Wolves are manufacturing a promising drive, the referees stop the game and are frantically running around the field for reasons totally unknown. It looks like a ref has lost his car keys, or they’re chasing an invisible squirrel running wild along the sidelines. For ten irritating minutes, the crowd is kept clueless and on ice.

As it turned out, there was a malfunction with the referee’s microphone, and nobody could find the backup. It was yet another detail that the Bowl officials had failed to attend. just didn’t care about the quality of the Bowl they had likely paid big money to sponsor. They could have provided a beer court, filled the concessions with food, made sure the referees had functional equipment, supplied a pre-game rock band to entertain the fans, had Danica Patrick sing the National Anthem, run a few goofy between-quarter contests, or even hired a couple teenagers to fire t-shirt cannons. They could have done any of that easily. They could have made the Bowl a big time experience for the fans that had traveled hundreds of miles to attend.

But GoDaddy chose to do nothing. NOTHING. Well, except for this: Before opening kick-off, an airplane towed an enormous banner high over decrepit Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

It was as close to the game as the sponsor cared to get.


After the Red Wolves scored the first 13 points of the game, the Huskies scored 31 points unanswered. The final score was 38-20. Chandler Harnish, the future Mr. Irrelevant of the 2012 NFL draft, was the MVP. Somebody from GoDaddy handed somebody from Northern Illinois an ugly trophy to commemorate the occasion.

Meanwhile, me, my Dad and my brother trudge across a dimly lit parking lot, looking for our car among the eerie shadows. The only illumination is the full moon overhead. Red Wolfington is stuffed inside the front pocket of my bulky Red Wolves sweatshirt. I had retired him by the fourth quarter. Losing was tough enough. But losing at a Bowl game that its own sponsors considered second-rate made it much worse.

Eleven months later, the Red Wolves are enjoying another storied season with the promise of another Bowl invitation. Many in the media predict a return to the Bowl. But I predict that many Red Wolves fans won’t return.

Not even for the Powerade.

Angry Czeck claims to have no interests outside of subjecting his will upon others, reveling in the failure others and bathing in their shame. He also enjoys Scrabble®. Follow him on Twitter @angryczeck and his blog