"(This program has) a great tradition, it's a great area and it has great administrators who have a vision for what we want to do in the future," said Anderson, who will be the fifth head coach in five years for the Red Wolves. "I think I made a statement with my contract and what it says (about) my ability to leave (early)."
Playing in a driving rain Sunday night to begin the final bowl before the BCS National Championship Game on Monday, the high-scoring offenses of Ball State and Arkansas State got off to slow starts.
The Cardinals went three-and-out on their first two possessions, while kicker Brian Davis missed a 34-yard field goal on Arkansas State's opening drive. The kick appeared to sail directly over the top of the right upright, but it was ruled no good despite protests by the Red Wolves' sideline.
A missed field goal is not a reviewable play.
Ball State's third drive ended with a familiar combination late in the first quarter: senior quarterback Keith Wenning to junior wideout Willie Snead. The duo capped a 14-play, 89-yard march when Wenning found Snead slicing between two defenders for a 9-yard touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.
It was the 35th passing score of the season for Wenning, 15 of them to Snead, who came into the game fourth in the nation in touchdown receptions this season.
Davis made a 41-yard field goal to cap Arkansas State's fourth drive, midway through the second quarter. In a 30 mph swirling wind, Davis drilled the kick right down the middle for his team's first points.
Wenning led the Cardinals right back on their next possession, keeping the march alive twice with third-down conversions. The drive lasted 6:09 but stalled inside the Red Wolves' 10-yard line, and Ball State settled for a 26-yard Scott Secor field goal to push the margin to 10-3.
Arkansas State answered with under a minute left before halftime. The Red Wolves converted on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to tie the game at 10-10. Running back Sirgregory Thornton took the handoff, and the 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior bullied his way into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season.
NOTES: The Red Wolves, who moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (then Division I-A) in 1992, are guaranteed their third straight winning season. Before 2011, they finished above .500 just once in the previous 19 seasons ... Ball State only played one game in the last 53 days prior to Sunday's contest. The Cardinals had a bye week prior to their Nov. 29 regular-season finale against Miami (Ohio) ... The Godaddy.com Bowl marked the first meeting between the schools.