Here’s a fun fact: Bruce Arians’ college roommate at Virginia Tech was – drum roll, please – Tiki Barber’s father.
So, naturally, Brandon Tierney had a very important question for Arians: Did you party hard with Tiki’s dad?
“Oh, baby,” the Arizona Cardinals head coach said. “Very, very hard.”
Which is funny given that Barber’s father became an ordained minister.
“Oh, back in the day, the reverend did (party),” Arians said. “Yes, he did.”
Arians did a little partying of his own this season – for a little while, at least. His Cardinals began the year 9-1 and looked like the best team in football, but then they lost four of six to end the season.
That’s what happens when you have to play three different quarterbacks.
“Actually, we played four,” Arians said, chuckling. “It was one of those years. It was a really special year in that it was fun to come to work every Monday because, hey, we’re starting all over again. It never got boring.”
Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas all saw time under center this season. Lindley got the start in Arizona’s playoff game against Carolina. He threw for 82 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 27-16 loss.
Still, Arians has had two highly successful seasons in Arizona, leading the Cardinals to a 21-12 record. That’s pretty good, especially considering that the Cardinals went 18-30 in the three years prior to his arrival.
How exactly do you bring energy and hope to a franchise stuck in a swoon?
“I think it’s just something that guys have to learn,” Arians said. “You give them a process, and if they buy in – which, like I said, it’s easy (to sell the process if you’ve won).”
Arians won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers – one as a wide receivers coach, and one as an offensive coordinator.
“So (we say), ‘If we do it this way, if you buy in, we have a chance,’” Arians explained. “And our guys bought in. The first year, it was like, wow, we finished strong. We go to Seattle and we win in Seattle and it’s like, wow, this works. This year, we’re right at the cusp. And we never make excuses. We didn’t play well enough in the playoffs with whoever we had left. They didn’t play well enough. When I checked out every one of our players, I said, ‘Don’t what-if yourself to death about this year.’ I took all those names and then put them back on the depth chart and I went, ‘This is a pretty good team. What can it be next year?’”
If the past two years are any indication, it’ll be pretty darn good. Arians, however, would have loved to have added Dick LeBeau to his staff. LeBeau, 77, was Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2014.
“I wish Dick all the best,” Arians said. “I really wanted him to join our staff. It was a little bit too far from the family when he settled down. It’s so hard when you change from somewhere like Pittsburgh. I was there eight years. Dick was there 11. You clean out your apartment. You do those things. You clean out your office. I hope he’s coaching – because I know he doesn’t want to retire. He’s a freak of the nature.”
Interestingly enough, even if LeBeau had joined the Cardinals, he wouldn’t have been the oldest assistant on staff. That honor belongs to pass rush specialist Tom Pratt, 79.
Said the 62-year-old Arians, “I got to have the guys that make me feel young.”