‘Group of Five’ countdown: 10 ‘Power Five’-ready coaches — No. 10: Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

photo by: (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson talks on his headset during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. Nebraska won 43-36. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

One advantage of hiring an existing head coach compared to an assistant coach ready to head a program for the first time involves the assembly of the staff of assistants.

A head coach can bring most of his staff with him, which eliminates concerns over how a staff will jell. The duties are defined, and the coaches don’t have to waste time figuring out how to stay out the way of each other.

Typically, though not always, coaches get their first head coaching position from outside the power five. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is a notable exception. Mark Mangino was able to turn around Kansas in his first job on the top of a staff.

Usually, though, coaches get their starts at schools in conferences that now are lumped into what has become known as the “Group of Five.”

The MAC seems to be the most fertile coaching ground of all.

Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian and Bo Schembechler all coached at Miami of Ohio.

Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel and Matt Campbell coached at Toledo. Urban Meyer was head coach at Bowling Green for two years.

Brian Kelly was at Central Michigan, Dave Doeren and Jerry Kill at Northern Illinois.

Glen Mason came to Kansas from Kent State.

Names of “Group of Five” head coaches are on small pieces of paper stored in the pockets of athletic directors from coast to coast.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what existing head coaches not at power five schools might work their way onto the lists of schools in the great plains region, should one happen to be in the market for a head coach after the 2018 season.

The next 10 Lunch Break blogs will feature coaches, listed in reverse order of how hot a prospect they project to be when the next coach-shopping season hits.

No point in listing coaches who would not be interested in taking on a monumental challenge in this region of the country.

No. 10 – Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Age: 49

Record at school: 31-20

Overall record: 31-20

Impressive win: vs. UCF, 31-13, Cure Bowl, Dec. 17, 2016

Why he made the list: When Larry Fedora was hired away from Southern Miss to North Carolina, he took Anderson with him as his offensive coordinator. Carolina put up monster offensive seasons in Anderson’s two years there and Arkansas State hired him as head coach. North Carolina’s offense hasn’t been the same since Anderson left.

The Sea Wolves opened last season at Nebraska and nearly pulled off the upset, losing 43-36.

Obviously, that wasn’t a very good Nebraska team, but that counts as a impressive performance for a Sun Belt school playing in front of 90,171 Cornhuskers fans amped about the start of a new season.

Anderson has coached Arkansas State into a bowl game in each of his four seasons and won Sun Belt titles in 2015 and 2016.

Winning a third title in four seasons in 2018 would help Anderson’s chances of breaking into the power-five coaching ranks.

A native of Hubbard, Texas, he played at Baylor and then Sam Houston State.


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