Former NFL coach Bruce Arians has had a long career that has taken him everywhere from Alabama to Arizona. But the stint in Tuscaloosa almost didn’t happen.
In an interview on the Pardon My Take podcast Wednesday, Arians told the story of the time he stood up to Bear Bryant and almost quit a job he was offered before it even started.
“I was hired full time [at Alabama],” Arians recalled. “That was the thing. They had a new change in the NCAA about recruiting, and they decided to make me the part-time guy because I was the newest guy on staff. That’s not what I just took. If that was the job, I’d still be at Mississippi State. So, I basically quit and walked out.”
Arians had just left a full-time job with the Bulldogs as the receivers and running backs coach, and he wasn’t about to be relegated to part-time status where he couldn’t recruit.
But he didn’t want to give up on the job entirely, either.
“I called Jimmy Sharpe, who was coach Bryant’s confidant,” Arians said. “And I told him what happened, and he said, ‘Good for you.’ Next thing I knew Coach Sharpe called me back [and told me], ‘Go back up to the office. Coach Bryant is going to see you in about 10 minutes.’
“Well, I didn’t know I got him off the golf course. So, he was pissed. It was bad.”
Thankfully for Arians, who went on to have a successful career coaching in both college and the pros, Bryant decided to stick to his word.
“He said, ‘Now, what is all this about? Who the hell likes recruiting?’ I said, ‘That’s part of my job. That’s why you hired me,” Arians said. “I’m a good recruiter. I’m a full-time coach. If this part-time job is the job you’d offered me, I’d still be at Mississippi State.’
“So, he stood up over that desk and said, ’Boy, I don’t talk out of both sides of my mouth. You get your ass in the car and start recruiting. You’re full time’ … I headed out that day and I didn’t come back for about three weeks.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Arians stayed with the Tide from 1981-82 and then moved on to be the coach at Temple.