State has announced Blake Anderson (right) will be its new head coach. (Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)
The Red Wolves have a new pack leader. After losing Bryan Harsin to the Boise State job on Dec. 11, Arkansas State has hired North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson as its next head coach, according to athletic director Terry Mohajir. Anderson will be the Red Wolves' fourth coach in as many seasons. Steve Roberts was removed after a 4-8 campaign in 2010 for offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze. Freeze took the Ole Miss job after going 10-2 in Jonesboro in '11, giving way to former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record in '12 before returning to the Plains.
Harsin, who served as an assistant at Boise State from 2001-10, had a brief two-year stint at Texas as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator before taking the Arkansas State job. When Petersen was hired at Washington after Steve Sarkisian left for USC, Harsin subsequently took over the Broncos. Which leads to Anderson's ascension. The Red Wolves' success is predicated on offense, and Anderson appears to be a good fit.
In Anderson's second season as an assistant at North Carolina, the Tar Heels averaged 32.2 points per game (down from 40.6 in 2012) and overcame a 1-5 start to finish 6-6. Anderson came with coach Larry Fedora from Southern Miss, where the Golden Eagles had record-setting offensive success as well. He also spent time at Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee and New Mexico.
The Arkansas State job is a tricky situation. Have success and bigger programs will come calling, but there is a benchmark of success that's been maintained even with a lack of continuity. As long as Anderson's philosophy jells with the players already on campus, the offense should continue to thrive.
Keep in mind, it's not necessarily a bad thing when a program loses coaches to bigger jobs on a regular basis. It simply makes that school much more desirable for the hot coordinators and young head coaches on the market.