Backed by a three-game winning streak and an undefeated conference record, Arkansas State University football Coach Blake Anderson threw some playful jabs at a struggling Razorbacks football program as he addressed several Hogs supporters at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday.
"We were running a little bit late today, and I apologize," said Anderson, who made his fourth appearance as a guest speaker. "I was having trouble trying to figure out which conference championship ring to wear."
ASU coach Blake Anderson jabs UA at Little Rock Touchdown Club
Laughter flowed easily through the crowd, even though the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville last won a conference title as part of the now-defunct Southwest Conference in 1989.
ASU (4-2, 3-0 Sun Belt Conference) has won two consecutive league titles under Anderson, and the Red Wolves are ahead of the conference standings in their bid to win a sixth title in seven years.
The program's success has done little to sway the state's allegiances from the 2-5 Razorbacks, as Anderson hinted in a humorous parable.
The story featured a Jonesboro second-grade classroom, where all but one student raised a hand when asked whether the students were Razorbacks fans. She explained she was a Red Wolves fan because both her parents were, and the teacher said, "You don't have to be exactly what your parents are. What if your parents are both losers?"
"Well," Anderson said the student replied, "then I'd be a Razorback."
Anderson cut through the laughter: "Is it too soon? Is it too soon?"
Prestige and recognition can't come soon enough for ASU, which Anderson alluded to when he said his program has "not beat the Hogs head to head on an in-state recruit yet."
"But it's gonna happen," he added. "Don't know when. Maybe it's this year, I don't know. We're going to beat them head to head."
Before the football talk, Anderson offered his support for Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, who supported Anderson's wife, Wendy, as she endured breast cancer this year.
Wendy, who underwent successful surgery Aug. 28, received applause and a standing ovation.
"Bret's a real good friend of mine," Anderson said. "I reached out to him this week. Something you don't know about Bret: Just as big as he is, he's got just as big a heart. He reached out every week to check on my wife over the past six months. Every week.
"I know he's going through a lot, but this is a tough business. He's a good dude. At the end of the day, he's a good dude."
ASU is closer to the six-game requirement for bowl eligibility than UA, and the Red Wolves could be the only Arkansas team represented in a bowl for the first time since 2013.
"I don't think it really impacts us one way or the other," SU Athletic Director Terry Mohajir said. "We really don't look at it that way. We just try to take care of our business and be the best we can possibly be. Regardless of who's representing the state that year in a particular bowl game, I hope everyone's rooting for us."
Sports on 10/24/2017
ARKANSAS STATE at
NEW MEXICO STATE
WHEN Saturday, 7 p.m.
WHERE Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, N.M.
RECORDS Arkansas State 4-2, 3-0 Sun Belt; New Mexico State 3-4, 1-2
Print Headline: ASU coach pokes at UA's struggles