JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Blake Anderson has made a habit of breaking records in his two seasons as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina.
The 43-year-old hopes to bring his style of up-tempo football — along with a healthy dose of stability — to Arkansas State.
Anderson was introduced as new coach of the Red Wolves on Thursday, becoming the school's fifth head coach in five seasons. He replaces Bryan Harsin, who left Arkansas State last week to become the head coach at Boise State.
"I am absolutely completely honored and thrilled to be here," Anderson said. "... You cannot imagine how excited I am and my family (is) to be here."
The Red Wolves (7-5) won at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship for the third straight season this year — all under different head coaches. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn left Arkansas State after one season last year, just as Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze had done a year earlier.
Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said the coaching turnover played a large factor in in Anderson's contract, a five-year, $700,000 annual agreement that includes a buyout of $3 million for the first two years. The buyout tapers to $2 million in the third and fourth years, and then to $1 million in the final year.
Harsin had a $1.75-million buyout in the first year of his contract, and Mohajir said Anderson — who said he was born in Arkansas — had no objections to the hefty clause.
"Although we want to continue moment and success, we want to create stability as well," Mohajir said.
Defensive coordinator John Thompson will serve as the interim coach when Arkansas State faces Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl on Jan. 5. Anderson said he plans to start with the Red Wolves following the Tar Heels' bowl game against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 28.
His offensive approach should fit well at Arkansas State, which has gone through a flurry of offensive-minded head coaches since the firing of former coach Steve Roberts following the 2010 season.