The interwining coaching connection is not uncommon.
The coaching carousel stops often.
But it is unusual to have an in-state Division I matchup in Arkansas with some many ties.
It’s unusual to have an in-state Division I matchup.
That’s why Saturday night’s game between the University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas State is so special.
It’s the last meeting between the Bears and the Red Wolves in the foreseable future. They have played only four times since 1947, the last in 2011.
There is a natural excitement for this matchup, which has packed the house at ASU’s Centennial Bank Stadium for the last three meetings.
The difference this year is that playing a regional FBS team has become an annual event for the Bears. Since that last meeting, UCA has played at Colorado, Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. FBS games are not a novelty at UCA. The Bears should not be intimidated by the moment.
But the in-state matchup between rivals a relatively short drive away adds spice.
The coaches and players are more familiar with each other than in most regular conference matchups. The fans interact with each other with cyber trash talk on message boards. There are bragging rights concerning the only matchup of Arkansas Division I teams.
This one has a personal touch.
Plus, the connections.
UCA coach Steve Campbell and ASU coach Blake Anderson worked together at Middle Tennessee in 2002. Their families developed a bond. Anderson’s son even walked on at UCA when Campbell got the job three years ago.
ASU offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner was UCA’s quarterbacks coach in 2009. Brian Early coached the defensive line and linebackers and handled special team from 2004-2008.
UCA defensive line coach Larry Hart was an assistant at ASU last year.
ASU wide receivers coach Luke Paschall coached on Campbell’s staff at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community?College in 2007 along with UCA assistant coach Pete Bennett. Campbell coached ASU offensive line coach Allen Rudolph at Nicholls State in the early 1990s.
UCA wide receiver Brandon Cox of Conway transferred to UCA from ASU a year ago.
"Our kids are really looking forward to this game because they played high school against a lot of these guys, followed those guys in the paper, went to camps with them when you’re growing up. So there will definitely be a lot of familiarity between the two programs."
There’s a regional appeal that should add to the atmosphere.
Carlos Blackman, UCA’s standout freshman back, played at Gosnell High School in Jonesboro’s shadow in northeast Arkansas. Tight end Cody Dauksch and running back Jarvis Cooper, both slated to see major action, played at nearby West Memphis.
It’s just one of those multi-connected neighborhood games we see to infrequently among Division teams in Arkansas.
We don’t know when it will happen again.
Enjoy the moment.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)