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Arkansas State's spring game auction winner is a 25-year-old tech company CEO from California

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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MOBILE, AL - NOVEMBER 2: Running back Sirgregory Thornton #21 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves celebrates after scoring a touchdown during their game against the South Alabama Jaguars on November 2, 2013 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Arkansas State defeated South Alabama 17-16. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

Arkansas State’s new coach for its spring game, Nick Bhardwaj, isn’t from Arkansas and not really an Arkansas State fan, but that didn’t stop him from forking over $11,700 for the opportunity to be an FBS coach for a day.

Bhardwaj, a 25-year-old from Northern California, is the CEO of Beyond Games, a gaming studio based in San Francisco, Calif., and prior to that, he was Vice President of Monetization at NaturalMotion, which was recently acquired by Zynga for $527 million.

And on Friday night, he’ll be calling plays for the Red Wolves.

“I love the outpour of support from A-State fans and the community,” said Bhardwaj in a statement released by the school.  “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 won a weeklong eBay auction, outbidding 15 other hopeful coaches. The opening bid started at $2,500 and the proceeds go to the Red Wolves Foundation. 

Bhardwaj, who spent a couple years at San Jose State before dropping out, said he’s an avid sports fan and he wants to use this experience to study the data and analytics behind sports. Who knows, maybe this will give Bhardwaj an idea for another multi-million dollar technology startup?

And Arkansas State would be wise to treat Bhardwaj well. It's never a bad idea to make new fans with deep pockets.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter

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