Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir announced Wednesday that current defensive coordinator John Thompson has been named the Red Wolves’ interim head football coach, effective immediately.
Thompson, a coaching veteran with over 30 years experience at the collegiate level as both an assistant and head coach, will oversee A-State’s preparations for the upcoming GoDaddy.com Bowl and coordinate the Red Wolves’ efforts in the game after former head coach Gus Malzahn stepped down from his position Tuesday to accept the same role at Auburn.
“Not only does Coach Thompson’s wealth of experience make him an excellent fit to assume the role of interim head coach, but he is also man of character with great leadership qualities who has earned a great deal of respect from this administration and the players,” said Mohajir. “We are confident he will help our football program make a smooth transition into the postseason, while also giving this team a tremendous opportunity to finish the season on a successful note in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.”
After careful consultation with ASU’s football players and multiple conversations with Coach Malzahn, it was Mohajir’s recommendation to Arkansas State University Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson that it was best for the student-athletes and the A-State football program if Coach Malzahn concentrated on his responsibilities at Auburn.
“The decision to move forward with an interim head coach for the GoDaddy.com Bowl was not made lightly, but we feel it is in the best interest of our student-athletes since Coach Malzahn will understandably be consumed with his commitments to Auburn and not be able to give his full attention to this team and its upcoming preparations for the postseason bowl,” said Mohajir.
As defensive coordinator and linebackers coach this season, Thompson oversaw Arkansas State’s defense that ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense and third in total defense. The Red Wolves had a league-high 10 All-Sun Belt Conference selections, including first-team choices Nathan Herrold at linebacker and Ryan Carrethers on the defensive line.
“We have a mature group of players with strong leadership, and I am certain this team and coaching staff is going to rise to the occasion,” said Thompson. “The team has improved on a weekly basis, and we expect it to continue to get better and compete at an even higher level. This has been a special season and everyone associated with this program wants to finish the year strong, none more so than our players and coaches. I know we will continue to show the same commitment we demonstrated all year that resulted in a Sun Belt Conference championship.”