Just A Thought, Coach

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By Jeff Munn

It’s great to know that Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians has survived a bout with a cancerous cell on his kidney.

It’s also good to hear his voice again as he tours the country promoting his new book, The Quarterback Whisperer.

However, in the midst of the talk show appearances, the golf tournaments, and the book signings, Arians has been strangely quiet about one event that took place while he was on vacation.

The passing of Frank Kush.

What’s odd about that is Kush, who passed away last month at the age of 88, was the blueprint of everything Arians is or wants to be as a head coach. Tough. Blunt. Demanding. Intolerant of anything less than a player’s maximum effort.

Sounds like the guy in the Kangol hat, doesn’t it?

So why is it that, with all the appropriate tributes given to the former ASU head coach, not one word has been uttered by Arians?

It’s not because Arians doesn’t know who he is.

Arians was a Graduate Assistant coach at Virginia Tech in 1975, the year Kush’s Sun Devils went 12-0, finished number two in the nation and beat Nebraska before a national television audience in the Fiesta Bowl. No coach in college football worth his whistle wasn’t familiar with what Kush accomplished.

Arians coached in Indianapolis, where Kush was the Head Coach when the Colts moved there from Baltimore. It may have been 30 years prior to Arians’ arrival, but Kush’s name had to have been brought up once or twice.

Then in Arizona, Arians works at a practice facility some five miles from Sun Devil Stadium, the arena Kush made famous, with a field that bears Kush’s name. He lives in a state where any discussion of football history begins and ends with the name Frank Kush.

So why the silence?

Arians likes to give off the image that he’s the toughest coach around. He tells parents they’re stupid if they don’t let their sons play football. He calls out his own players, and uses language NFL Films must have a constant “beep” sound for.

Wonder if he ever ordered the bus driver to run the bus through a locked gate?

Wonder if he ever called a practice in his stadium hours after his team lost a game?

Wonder if he ever criticized his players while they sat next to him on a live television show?

Kush did.

It wouldn’t hurt if the toughest coach around acknowledged that maybe he isn’t the toughest coach ever.

It’s a minor thing, to be sure, but consider this – 2017 is the 30th season of the Cardinals in Arizona. They are no longer the new kids on the block. They’re as much a part of Arizona’s football history as ASU, UofA, NAU, the Phoenix Blazers, Arizona Wranglers and Arizona Rattlers.

For the record, the Cardinals issued a classy statement offering their condolences the day Kush passed, but seriously, this is a football coach who hasn’t said a word about another coach passing away.

Because of his success here, every word Arians speaks is quoted in bold type. Media that used to say “In Whiz We Trust” for Ken Whisenhunt quickly got out their erasers and put BA in.

This time, however, it’s what Arians hasn’t said, or hasn’t been asked, that’s noteworthy.

Here’s an idea – when camp opens, how about Arians skip plugging his book in his press conference for a few minutes and just say how much he admires the man who really WAS the toughest coach in Arizona, even if he never met him. Chance are Arians never met Vince Lombardi, but you’d bet the mortgage Lombardi is one of his heroes.

Just a thought, coach.