JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) - Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir announced Tuesday that California-native Nick Bhardwaj has filled the Red Wolves "Head Coach Experience" position for its upcoming Spring Game this Friday, April 18, at 7 p.m.
The athletics department will hold an 11:00 a.m. press conference Friday at the Convocation Center auditorium to introduce Bhardwaj as the winner of its "Coach Experience" opportunity, which will place him on the headset with the Red Wolves' coaching staff to lead one of the teams in the scrimmage. The press conference is open to working media and the public, and it will be streamed live on AStateRedWolves.com. Those attending the press conference should enter at the Convocation Center's lower red entrance to gain access to the auditorium.
Bhardwaj placed a winning bid of $11,700 on an eBay auction that will put him at the forefront of all the action Friday night. As the head coach, the 25-year old Bhardwaj will give the pregame and halftime talk to his team, determine if they 'go for it' or punt on fourth downs and make play-calling decisions.
He will receive photos and video of his coaching experience, wear official A-State coaching gear and, if he leads his team to a victory, receive a Powerade bath as part of his bragging rights. Bhardwaj will also receive a mock one-day contract from Mohajir at the press conference and be issued an A-State jersey with his name embroidered on the back.
"I love the outpour of support from A-State fans and the community," said Bhardwaj after winning the auction. "Since realizing I was going to win the auction, I have been reviewing tapes from last season for both Arkansas State and North Carolina to better understand offensive and defensive strategies. I've been reading every piece of press on the current team and recruits for A-State, so I am looking forward to hitting the ground running and learning as much as I can during this experience.
"I've followed Arkansas State through the years, especially during Sun Belt Conference games and bowl season, but I have hit a whole new level when it comes to being a fan. I have become extremely familiar about the history of the football program, and I now feel like I am a part of the Red Wolves Nation."
Bhardwaj is the CEO and cofounder of Beyond Games, a gaming studio based in San Francisco, Calif., operating to deliver the best experiences possible on smartphone and tablet devices. The company is funded and backed by various venture capital firms and angel investors. Prior to Beyond Games, he was the Vice President of Monetization at NaturalMotion, which was recently acquired by Zynga for $527 million.
A Northern California native, Bhardwaj was born in San Jose and attended high school in El Dorado Hills just outside of Sacramento. Now a San Francisco resident, he attended San Jose State University for a few years before leaving the school to pursue a career in technology based startups.
"We are looking forward to having Coach Bhardwaj fill our first-ever 'Coach Experience' position for our spring game," said Mohajir. "He obviously has a great passion for college football, and it's evident he is excited about this opportunity by the way he has researched our University, community and football program. We are certainly glad to have him here, and his involvement will bring an added level of entertainment to the game."
According to Bhardwaj, a self-proclaimed huge sports fans who enjoys everything from the NFL, MLB, NBA and college sports to international soccer and cricket, the opportunity will allow him to not only have a fun experience, but also study the data and analytics behind sports.
"Nick will be a great addition to our sidelines for our spring game, and we are eager to get him involved," said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. "We're thrilled with the energy and enthusiasm he's displayed since winning the auction, so everyone is looking forward to getting him on campus to continue his prep for our spring game."
There is no charge for parking or admission to the spring game, which will include four quarters and a halftime. Prior to the game, the Centennial Bank Stadium field will be open from 4:30-5:30 p.m. for kids who want to come on the field and play with various practice equipment while interacting with some of the Red Wolves' players.
Additionally, Tailgate City will host activities for all ages between 5:00-7:00 p.m. East Arkansas Broadcasters will provide music in the tailgating area that will include inflatables and face painting. Following the game, A-State players and coaches will be available on the field to sign autographs and visit with fans.
The Red Wolves began their spring camp under Anderson on March 17 with their first team practice since ending the 2013 season with a 23-20 victory over Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl. A-State is holding 15 practices, including its spring game, over a five-week period that will end April 21.