News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 18, 2012

Arians thriving in first opportunity as a head coach

Colts interim coach thankful for opportunity provided by Pagano

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts interim coach Bruce Arians finds himself in a rather odd position.

Arians, a long time assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Colts, had always harbored dreams of being a head coach in the National Football League. But he just never thought that his opportunity would ever come.

“Once, when the Cleveland [head coaching] job came open, I thought that I might get a call. Never really heard anything though,” Arians said recently.

That’s why, when he was forced out as an assistant in Pittsburgh after eight years as an assistant there (the final five as the team’s offensive coordinator), the Patterson, New Jersey native figured his time in the NFL was through.

Arians was all set to retire with his wife Christine at their off-season home in Georgia. But life can sometimes offer up some strange turns. Such was the case for the former Virginia Tech quarterback.

Within days of being let go by Pittsburgh, Arians received a phone call from long time friend and former coaching cohort Chuck Pagano. The two had worked together in Cleveland as assistants and had developed a pretty strong friendship.

When Pagano was named as the Colts’ new head coach, one of the first people he contacted about a position on his coaching staff was Arians.

“Are you retired?” Pagano asked. “Are you hiring?” his friend responded.

From that time on, the two have been paired at the hip. When Pagano was initially diagnosed with leukemia in September, one of the first people he told was Arians.