Candidate profile: Blake Anderson
After firing Barry Odom following four seasons in Columbia, Missouri is looking for a new head football coach. You can find our full hot board here; however, we will also bring you a more in-depth look at each candidates by profiling one every day during the search.
Current position: Arkansas State head coach
Head coaching experience: six years
During the first 48 or so hours of Missouri’s coaching search, as fans familiarized themselves with new names like Will Healy and Lane Kiffin rumors tore through the southeast, Blake Anderson’s name slipped out of the discussion. However, PowerMizzou has reason to believe that the Arkansas State coach has, at the very least, received interest from Missouri and is likely on the short list of remaining candidates.
That’s not to say Anderson has come out of nowhere as a contender for the position. Due to his regional recruiting ties and success at Arkansas State, Anderson has always made sense as a potential interview subject. He has won at least seven games in each of his six years at Arkansas State and won the Sun Belt conference title twice. He’s also been tied to head coaching openings before. His name was brought up as a candidate at Baylor, where he began his college football playing career, and North Carolina, where he served as an assistant under Larry Fedora, during the past two offseasons, but both times he opted to stay put in Jonesboro.
Anderson might be more receptive to a change of scenery this year. The 50-year-old lost his wife, Wendy, to breast cancer in August. Her passing could make a fresh start sound more appealing.
Anderson has steadily worked his way up the coaching ranks. After transferring to Sam Houston State as a player and finishing his college career there, he got his start as a graduate assistant at Eastern New Mexico in 1992. He spent two seasons there before bouncing to Howard Payne University and then Trinity Valley. In 1999, he got his first Division I coaching position under current San Diego State coach Rocky Long at New Mexico. He spent three seasons as running backs coach for the Lobos then three seasons as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Middle Tennessee.
After a couple years away from coaching, Anderson accepted a position as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Louisiana Lafayette. He worked there for one season before being hired away by Fedora to serve as the quarterbacks coach and run game coordinator at Southern Mississippi. Anderson helped develop Austin Davis, who went on to break Brett Favre’s program records for passing yardage and touchdowns, and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2010. After two seasons as the Golden Eagles’ offensive coordinator, he followed Fedora to North Carolina and served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Tar Heels for two years.
Anderson took over as Arkansas State’s head coach after Bryan Harsin left for Boise State following the 2013 season. The previous three Arkansas State coaches, Harsin, Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze, had all left the school after just one season. Anderson remained even after leading the Red Wolves to back-to-back Sun Belt titles in 2015 and 2016. In all, his teams have gone 46-30, with a 36-12 mark in conference play.
As indicated by his coaching roots, Anderson comes from an offensive background, which should be appealing to Missouri. In his first year at North Carolina, the Tar Heels ranked No. 14 nationally in total offense and No. 8 in scoring before taking a step back the following season. The past three years, Arkansas State has ranked No. 5, 21 and 14 in passing; No. 10, 17 and 44 in total offense and No. 12, 55 and 32 in scoring. The Red Wolves have finished among the top two teams in the Sun Belt in scoring in four of Anderson’s six years at the helm.
If there's a knock on Anderson, it's that his two season at North Carolina represent his only Power Five experience. He is 0-8 against Power Five competition at Arkansas State.
Anderson does, however, have a track record of sustaining success. Arkansas State is one of two Sun Belt team to have a winning record In conference play each of the past six year, along with Appalachian State. Plus, should Jim Sterk decide to make a run at Anderson, Missouri should be able to afford him. Anderson made just over $825,000 in 2018, according to USA Today. His buyout would be $500,00.