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The Associated Press | December 20, 2013

Arkansas State hires North Carolina OC Anderson as head coach

Arkansas State's Blake Anderson
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir says North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson has agreed to become the new head coach of the Red Wolves.

Anderson leaves the Tar Heels after two seasons, replacing Bryan Harsin -- who left Arkansas State last week to become the head coach at Boise State. Anderson becomes the fifth coach in five seasons for the Red Wolves, who won at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship for the third consecutive season this year.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn left Arkansas State after one season last year, just as Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze had done a year earlier.

Defensive coordinator John Thompson will serve as the interim coach when Arkansas State (7-5) faces Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl on Jan. 5.

Anderson served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina, which was 6-6 this season and will face Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 28.

His offensive approach will fit in 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.

The one-and-done approach has worked well for the Red Wolves, who are 27-11 during the past three seasons under Freeze, Malzahn and Harsin -- a vast improvement at a school that had enjoyed little success since becoming an FBS school in 1992.

Prior to a 10-3 record under Freeze in 2011, Arkansas State had finished above .500 only once during that span, and the school's back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2011-12 was the first time it had won in double digits since it was a member of the I-AA (now FCS) Southland Conference in 1986.

In Anderson's first season with the Tar Heels in 2012, the school set more than 35 records -- including points per game and total offense. This season, North Carolina started the season 1-5 before rebounding with five consecutive wins to earn bowl eligibility.

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