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Why I DON’T Hate Arkansas State

Arkansas State v Alabama
Arkansas State Head Coach Blake Anderson brings the Red Wolves to Athens on Saturday
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This is Arkansas State Head Coach Blake Anderson.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas State Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

On August 19, just hours after Arkansas State announced he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence, Anderson’s wife Wendy died two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Throughout Wendy’s battle, the Arkansas State and Jonesboro communities rallied around Wendy and Blake, starting an online movement with the hashtag #NotFightingAlone. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve known someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. It is a terrible disease, and it takes far too many people away from this world far too soon. Blake and Wendy Anderson had three children together and were married for 27 years. I have been through some things in my life that I consider painful, but I cannot even begin to fathom what Blake Anderson has been going through for the last two years. It is even harder for me to fathom what he’s going through right now.

Anderson ended his leave of absence by showing up at his team’s Las Vegas hotel just hours before their game against UNLV on Saturday. The Red Wolves blew out UNLV by a score of 43-17.

I love college football for a lot of reasons. One of them is the way it can fully distract from other things in life for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. When the players are on the grass, we get to focus fully on a game for a few hours. There’s been times in my life where a Georgia Football game was the one thing that made me feel normal that week. It gives us a reason to clap and smile and hug when all of those things feel like a nearly impossible task.

When Georgia and Arkansas State take the field on Saturday, my hope is that Blake Anderson’s focus is fully on the game for a few hours. I will be pulling for the Dawgs of course, but I will be rooting for Blake Anderson and the Red Wolves in every other game they play this year.