Last week I threw a curve ball with the coaching candidates as I profiled our own Tony Sparano, who was receiving some support from some here after a three game winning streak. Now that the winning streak has disappeared and the support has quieted down, I'll go back to looking at outsiders for our Head Coach position next year. This week I bring you Bruce Arians, current Offensive Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Arians was Virginia Tech's starting QB in 1974, but he put up unimpressive numbers as he completed less than 50% of his passes and threw and threw double the amount of INTs as he did TDs. He graduated in 1975 and stayed on the VT staff for three years as a graduate assistant.
He joined Mississippi State University in 1978 and served as WRs and RB coach. His tenure was short and he moved to the University of Alabama in 1981 to work as RB Coach under Bear Bryant, a position he held for only two years.
Because many thought everything Bryant touched turned to gold, Arians received his first offer to be a Head Coach after only 8 years as a coach and after graduating college. Arians joined Temple University at age 30 to become Head Coach. Temple had success in the 70s under Wayne Hardin, but Arians had limited success. Though his record will show Arians was 21-45 in his six season at Temple, six wins were taken away in 1986 because Temple had an ineligible player on the team. If not for Temple forfeiting all their wins for the 1986 season, Arians would've held a 27-39 record at Temple and would've left with two winning seasons.
Arians found his first job in the NFL in 1989 with the Kansas City Chiefsand worked with Marty Schottenheimer, Tony Dungy, and Bill Cowher. Arians served as RB Coach and worked with Christian Okoye and Barry Word. Okoye's breakout year came in Arians' first season as RB Coach and both left the team after 1992.
Arians went back to Mississippi State in 1993 after being offered his first coordinator position. Once again, Arians stayed at Mississippi State for only 3 seasons before going back to the NFL to serve as Tight Ends Coach in New Orleans. After a single season with the Saints, he went back to college to serve as Alabama's Offensive Coordinator. This job too only lasted a single season.
Arians went back to the NFL in 1998, this time serving as QB Coach for the Indianapolis Colts. Arians made his name during this tenure as he was Peyton Manning's first QB coach. Before leaving in 2000, Manning went from promising rookie to elite QB during Arians' tenure.
Arians then joined the Cleveland Browns in 2001 as Offensive Coordinator, his first coordinator position for a NFL franchise. Cleveland's offense sputtered during Arians three years as Offensive Coordinator, but he had little to work with. Cleveland had a young, struggling QB with Tim Couch. RBs William Green and and Jamel White did little for Cleveland's offense along with WRs Quincy Morgan, Andre Davis, and Kevin Johnson. During this time, Cleveland did make the postseason for the first and only time since they rejoined the NFL when they posted a 9-7 record in 2002.
Arians rejoined Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh in 2004 and served as WRs Coach, working with WRs such as Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, and Antwaan Randle El. Arians was then promoted to Offensive Coordinator in 2007 after the departure of Cowher and Ken Whisenhunt. In Arians' first year as Offensive Coordinator, Ben Roethlisberger was voted to his first Pro Bowl and set a franchise record for passing TDs (32). In his four years as Offensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh's offense has ranked in the top half of the NFL in each season except for 2008, when the Steelers still went on to win the Super Bowl. In 2009, the Steelers boasted a 4,000 yard passer, two 1,000 yard WRs, and a 1,000 yard rusher, the first time the franchise ever reached such a milestone.
While much of his success may be contributed to Manning and Roethlisberger, two elite QBs in today's NFL, Arians does run a balanced offense that utilizes their players very well. Many would welcome Pittsburgh's style of offense with big play RBs and an offense that can be explosive and utilizes all their weapons, including their talented TE. He has done a great job with WRs such as Burress, Ward, Santonio Holmes, and now Mike Wallace. TE Heath Miller has also been more involved in Pittsburgh's offense since Arians took over as Offensive Coordinator.
Not only has Arians worked with top QBs such as Manning and Roethlisberger, but he's been around successful coaches such as Schottenheimer, Dungy, Cowher, Whisenhunt, and Mike Tomlin. Being around those coaches should've influenced Arians style of coaching. Personally speaking, Arians wouldn't be one of my top choices, but I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if he was hired. He's been around successful QBs, has helped coach along some very good WRs, and runs a balanced offense that can be explosive.