American Football Database
American Football Database
Arkansas State Red Wolves football
Current season
First season 1911
Head coach Bryan Harsin
Home stadium Liberty Bank Stadium
Stadium capacity 30,964
Stadium surface Pro Green
Location Jonesboro, Arkansas
League NCAA Division I (FBS)
Conference Sun Belt
Past conferences Independent (1911–1929, 1951–1963, 1987–1992, 1996–1998)
Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (1930–1950)
Southland Conference (1964–1986)
Big West Conference (1993–1995, 1999–2000)
All-time record 426–455–37
Postseason bowl record 1–2
Conference titles 9
Colors Scarlet and Black            
Rivals Memphis

The Arkansas State Red Wolves football team represents Arkansas State University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football competition. The team was originally founded in 1911, and, since 2001, Arkansas State has competed as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. Until 2008, the team's name was the Arkansas State Indians.


Early years: 1911–1952

The school itself was founded in 1909, and, two years later, Arkansas State fielded its first football team in 1911. That season, they compiled a 1–1–0 record in two games against Paragould High School.[1] In 1918, the team was temporarily disbanded due to the First World War. The 1941 season was the team's last before another hiatus for the Second World War, and Arkansas State lost all seven of their games by a margin of 308 points to 0.[2]

From 1937 until 1953, Arkansas State competed as a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).[3] During the 1950s under coach Forrest England, ASU emerged as a bit of a regional football power, appearing in four post-season bowl games from 1951 to 1953. The Indians won the 1951 Refrigerator Bowl, tied the 1953 Tangerine Bowl and lost in both the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl and the 1951 Tangerine Bowl. The 1951 games were both played after the 1951 season.[2]

NCAA membership

In 1953, Arkansas State moved to the NCAA, and played as a member of the small college division through 1972.[3]


ASU Stadium, formerly known as Indian Stadium

In 1970, as a member of the Southland Conference, Arkansas State was crowned the NCAA small college football national champion as Arkansas State defeated Central Missouri State University in the Pecan Bowl under head coach Bennie Ellender to complete an 11-0 undefeated season. The Small College Division National Championship, in what is now known as NCAA Division II, capped three straight bowl appearances by the Indians. At the time, the division competed in four separate regional bowl games with the national champion chosen by the polls after the bowls.

Promotion to Division I

In 1973 and 1974, the Indians played in NCAA Division II, before being promoted to Division I.[3] Arkansas State recorded an undefeated season (going 11-0) in Division I in 1975 and was one of only two undefeated Division I football teams that year. Arkansas State was one of only four institutions to have gone undefeated and not win a National Championship at the Division I-A (now Division I FBS) level. Since Arkansas State was a member of the Southland Conference, and the league did not have a bowl game tie-in, Arkansas State was not selected for post-season play. As a result of this inequity, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana was created (though ASU has never played in the game).

File:Arkansas State Football Player.jpg

An Arkansas State player in home uniform.

During the 1980s, under head coach Larry Lacewell, Arkansas State played in the NCAA Division I-AA (now Division I FCS) and made four appearances in the playoffs, including a loss in the national championship game in 1986 to Georgia Southern, 48-21.

From 1987 to 1998, Arkansas State played sports as an independent, with two brief stints in the Big West Conference as a football-only member (1993-1995 and 1999-2000). They joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2005.

Promotion to Division I FBS

During the 2005 football season, Arkansas State finished the regular season as Sun Belt Conference champions with a record of 6 wins and 5 losses and was invited to the New Orleans Bowl. This was the school's first bowl game since the trip to the 1970 Pecan Bowl and subsequent national college division championship. The Indians lost to The University of Southern Mississippi in the game, which was played that year in the city of Lafayette, Louisiana due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Arkansas State has won a total of nine conference championships – seven Southland Conference Championships and two Sun Belt Championships.

In 2008, Arkansas State changed its name from the Indians to the Red Wolves.

In 2011, led by first year head coach Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State went undefeated in the Sun Belt conference, a perfect 8-0 record, as well as going 10-2 overall. After the last regular season game, Freeze took the head coaching job at Ole Miss, taking four assistants with him. Running backs coach David Gunn was named the interim head coach and led the team to Mobile, Alabama for the 2012 Bowl. In that bowl, held on January 8, 2012, the Red Wolves were led by quarterback Ryan Aplin, as they squared off against the Northern Illinois University Huskies. Inexplicably, though he was "unable" to coach the Red Wolves in their final game of the season, former head coach Freeze was able to attend the game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, watching as Northern Illinois rallied back from a thirteen point deficit for a 38-20 victory. Also in attendance in Mobile was Gus Malzahn, who was named Arkansas State's new head football coach on December 14, 2011. Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn from 2009-2011, where he won the 2010 Frank Broyles Award (given to the nation's top assistant coach) before being hired as the Red Wolves' head coach. The 2012 college football season will be Malzahn's first as a FBS head coach. On December 4, 2012, Guz Malzahn announced his return to Auburn Tigers football as head coach, thus making it two years in a row the team would be coached by an interim in the post season. John Thompson coached the team to 17-13 victory at the 2013 Bowl against #25 Kent State on January 6, 2013. Former Texas Longhorns football offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was named on December 11, 2012 to succeed the departing Malzahn.

Division History

Year Division
1937-1953 NJCAA
1953-1972 NCAA College Division (Small College)
1973-1974 NCAA Division II
1975-1977 NCAA Division I
1978-1981 NCAA Division I-A
1982-1991 NCAA Division I-AA
1992-2005 NCAA Division I-A
2006- NCAA Division FBS

Postseason Games

College Division/Other Bowl Games

Year and bowl Winning team Losing team
1951 Refrigerator Bowl Arkansas State 46 Camp Breckinridge 12
1952 Tangerine Bowl Stetson 35 Arkansas State 20
1952 Refrigerator Bowl Western Kentucky 34 Arkansas State 19
1954 Tangerine Bowl Arkansas State 7 East Texas State 7
1968 Pecan Bowl North Dakota State 23 Arkansas State 14
1969 Pecan Bowl Arkansas State 29 Drake 21
1970 Pecan Bowl Arkansas State 38 Central Missouri State 21

NCAA Division I-AA playoff games

Year and bowl Winning team Losing team
1984 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 37 Tennessee-Chattanooga 10
1984 I-AA Quarterfinals Montana State 31 Arkansas State 14
1985 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 10 Grambling 7
1985 I-AA Quarterfinals Nevada 24 Arkansas State 23
1986 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 48 Sam Houston State 7
1986 I-AA Quarterfinals Arkansas State 55 Delaware 23
1986 I-AA Semifinals Arkansas State 24 Eastern Kentucky 10
1986 I-AA Championship Game Georgia Southern 48 Arkansas State 21
1987 I-AA First Round Arkansas State 35 Jackson State 32
1987 I-AA Quarterfinals Northern Iowa 49 Arkansas State 28

NCAA Division I FBS Bowl Games

Year and bowl Winning team Losing team
2005 New Orleans Bowl Southern Miss 31 Arkansas State 19
2012 Bowl Northern Illinois 38 Arkansas State 20
2013 Bowl Arkansas State 17 Kent State 13



In 2004, the Memphis Tigers defeated Arkansas State 47-35 before 30,427 fans, the largest crowd to ever watch a game at Indian Stadium. In 2006, Arkansas State beat Memphis at the Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee after a last second Hail Mary touchdown to secure the win, 26-23, and end a ten game losing streak to the Tigers. The teams met again in 2007 at Indian Stadium, where the Indians rallied in the second half to beat the Tigers 35-31 after trailing 31-6 at halftime. The schools have met 54 times, with the Tigers leading the series 27-22-5.


Both schools were nicknamed the Indians until the NCAA banned the native American nickname. ULM changed their nickname to the Warhawks in 2006, and ASU changed their nickname to the Red Wolves in 2008. Arkansas State leads the overall series against ULM (19-14). ASU won the first meeting in Jonesboro in 1959, 15-0. ASU and ULM have been conference foes in the Southland and the Sun Belt. The rivals shared the Sun Belt title in 2005. The series is alternates every year between Jonesboro and Monroe, Louisiana.

Future non-conference opponents

2013 2014 2015
vs Arkansas–Pine Bluff at Idaho vs Missouri
at Auburn
at Memphis
at Missouri
vs Idaho



Current NFL players

Former players

See also

  • Liberty Bank Stadium