This Saturday in Athens, Georgia when the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Ball State Cardinals, there will be a familiar face to longtime Augusta-area football fans, specifically, arena league football fans. Ball State head coach Mike Neu’s first head coaching job was with the Augusta Stallions in 2000. The Stallions played three seasons in the AF2, the minor league sublet of the Arena Football League. After various other coaching jobs with other AFL teams, Neu was named the head coach at Ball State since 2016.
“Well, first of all, man, it was an awesome opportunity for me to be my first time as a head football coach in the Arena 2, the minor leagues of the Arena League,” said Neu. “And the owner, Frank Lawrence, and his son Bud Lawrence were awesome. They owned Bobby Jones Ford there in Augusta and such great owner to work for. And that was such a fun football team,” added Neu.
During his one season with the Stallions, the team went a perfect 8-0 at home in the Augusta Civic Center, now known as the James Brown Arena. Neu was named the AF2 Coach of the Year in 2000, the Stallions won a conference championship and finished with a 14-4 overall record. “We were undefeated at the Augusta Civic Center, which was really cool to go 8-0 that first year you know to be one of the most successful teams that year and to go into the playoffs. It was such a fun year,” said Neu.
His time in Augusta also holds a special meaning because it is when he met his wife Charmin, a Columbia County native. The couple have a daughter, Graycen, and two sons, Carson and Chase.
“But really the relationships that were started back in that year of 2000 and I continue to to still have relationship with a lot of those players and a lot of those staff members today. So really special time in my life. Of course, it led me to have an opportunity to meet my wife, which was incredible. So my days in Augusta and my days in Georgia were certainly awesome,” said Neu.
Neu says his wife, her brother and her sister-in-law will be at the game on Saturday, and they still have lake house in Lincoln County. “So it’s going to be fun, it’s obviously a quick trip, but it’s going to be fun to be able to see some family and just reflect on some good times and some good memories,” said Neu.
The Cardinals and Bulldogs kickoff at noon on Saturday.