The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians to replace Dirk Koetter as the franchise’s 12th head coach.

Arians and his Cardinals beat the Bucs twice in back-to-back years – 40-7 in 2016 and 38-33 the next year in ’17 – both of those games were in Arizona. Arians and the Bucs will host the Cardinals in 2019 at Raymond James Stadium – unless the game is chosen to be in London as part of the NFL’s International Series.

Here is a quick look at Arians’ professional and personal life:

Bruce Arians’ Coaching Career
Virginia Tech – Graduate assistant (1975–1977)
Mississippi State – Wide receivers coach & running backs coach (1978–1980)
Alabama – Running backs coach – (1981–1982)
Temple – Head coach (1983–1988)
Kansas City Chiefs – Running backs coach (1989–1992)
Mississippi State – Offensive coordinator (1993–1995)
New Orleans Saints – Tight ends coach (1996)
Alabama – Offensive coordinator (1997)
Indianapolis – Quarterbacks coach (1998–2000)
Cleveland Browns – Offensive coordinator (2001–2003)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Wide receivers coach (2004–2006)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Offensive coordinator (2007–2011)
Indianapolis Colts – Offensive coordinator & interim head coach (2012)
Arizona Cardinals – Head coach (2013–2017)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Head coach (2019)

Bruce Arians’ Coaching Record

• Arians, who was a star high school quarterback in Paterson, New Jersey, was expelled from York Catholic High School when he was caught drinking and had to transfer to William Penn High School. That caused many schools to back off from offering him a scholarship, except for Virginia Tech where he went on to star as a wishbone quarterback. At Virginia Tech, Arians became the first white player to share a dorm room with a black player in Hokies history. His roommate? James Barber, who was the father of former Bucs legend Ronde Barber and his brother Tiki.

As a senior at Virginia Tech in 1974, Arians completed 53-of-118 passes (44.9 percent) for 952 yards and three touchdowns along with seven interceptions. Arians also rushed for 243 yards and eight touchdowns that year, and he held the Hokies record for most rushing touchdowns by a QB in a season with 11, which was two more than Michael Vick was able to get in any single season at Virginia Tech. Jerod Evans broke that record decades later in 2016.

Arians’ coaching mentors are his Virginia Tech coaches Charlie Coffey and Jimmy Sharpe, in addition to Paul “Bear” Bryant, whom he coached with for two seasons (1981-82), including Bryant’s last game at Alabama, which was a Liberty Bowl win over Illinois in 1982. Arians has had a picture of Bryant in his office behind his desk since he was the head coach at Temple in the 1983.

Former Steelers OC Bruce Arians
Former Steelers OC Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

• Arians won two Super Bowls with the Steelers (XL and XLIII) under head coaches Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. Arians and Cowher coached together in Kansas City under Marty Schottenheimer, who gave Arians his first NFL coaching opportunity in 1989 as the Chiefs running backs coach. In Kansas City, Arians coached one of his former Temple running backs Todd McNair, in addition to Christian Okoye and Barry Word. In his first year in Kansas City, Arians helped Okoye go from a 473-yard rusher in 1988 to the NFL league-leader in rushing in ’89 when he ran for 1,480 yards and 12 touchdowns.

In 2004, Arians joined Cowher’s staff as a wide receivers coach. The next year, Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was named Super Bowl XL MVP after catching five passes for 123 yards and a 43-yard touchdown pass from fellow wide receiver Antwan Randle-El in the 21-10 victory over Seattle.

• Arians is a two-time NFL Head Coach of the Year award winner. He first won the award after going 9-3 as the interim coach in his first year in Indianapolis in 2012 when first-year head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia during the season. Arians was the offensive coordinator and helped guide a Colts team with a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck to the playoffs.

That led to Arians getting the Arizona head-coaching job the next year and kicked off three straight double-digit winning seasons with the Cardinals, including two postseason appearances. Arizona went 13-3 in 2015 and went 1-1 in the playoffs, which earned Arians his second NFL Head Coach of the Year honors.

While Arians learned under several great football coaches, he has spawned an NFL head coach himself in Todd Bowles, who was his defensive coordinator from 2013-14 in Arizona. In 2015, the New York Jets hired Bowles to be the team’s head coach where he went 25-35 before being fired after the 2018 campaign. Bowles met with the Washington Redskins this week, but will reunite with Arians in Tampa Bay as the Bucs’ new defensive coordinator.

Also joining Arians’ staff is former Jaguars, Steelers and Bucs quarterback Byron Leftwich as the team’s new offensive coordinator (passing game), former Bucs tight ends/quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen will coach Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks, while Harold Goodwin will be the new offensive line coach and run game coordinator.

Leftwich coached quarterbacks under Arians in Arizona in 2017 and remained in that role in 2018 when he was also promoted to offensive coordinator at midseason. Christensen coached quarterbacks under Arians when he was the head coach at Temple back in the 1980s. Goodwin served under Arians the same capacity in Arizona from 2013-17.

On the defensive side, Kevin Ross, who played for Arians at Temple, will coach cornerbacks, as he did under Arians in Arizona from 2013-18.

Former Colts head coach Bruce Arians
Former Colts head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

• Arians has coached several great NFL quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning and Luck during their rookie seasons in the league, as well as Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Arizona’s Carson Palmer. Arians, who won two Super Bowls in Pittsburgh (XL, XLIII) under Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, is tasked with the duty of elevating Jameis Winston’s career in Tampa Bay as Winston enters his fifth-year option season with the Bucs.

Arians met Winston at a quarterback camp during Winston’s youth, and Winston credits Arians for wanting to win a Super Bowl after Arians showed him his Super Bowl ring.

• Arians and his wife Christine have a son, Jake, who spent part of 2001 as a kicker for the Buffalo Bills, and a daughter, Kristi Anne. Arians and his wife have a lake house at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia. The Arians run a charity called The Arians Family Foundation, which supports and develops programs to prevent the abuse and neglect of children. The Arians Family Foundation supports the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.

Arians has survived several bouts with cancer, including prostate cancer in 2007. In 2013 he was treated for skin cancer on his nose. During Arizona’s 2016 season, Arians was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, which is a form of kidney cancer. Arians was also briefly hospitalized in November of 2016 with chest pains.

Due to his previous health issues, Arians was given a physical as part of his interview process with the Buccaneers over the weekend. Arians briefly retired following the 2017 season in which the Cardinals went 8-8. He spent last season as a TV color analyst for CBS NFL games before coming out of retirement to coach the Buccaneers in 2019.

Notable Players Under Arians

John Abraham

  • Pro Bowl Selection (2013)

Budda Baker

  • First-team AP All-Pro (2017)
  • Pro Bowl Selection (2017)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Selection (2017)

Justin Bethel

  • 2x First-team AP All-Pro (2013, 2015)
  • 3x Pro Bowl Selection (2013-15)

Antonio Brown

  • Pro Bowl Selection (2011)

Calais Campbell

  • 2x Second-team AP All-Pro (2014, 2016)
  • 2x Pro Bowl Selection (2014-15)

Alan Faneca

  • First-team AP All-Pro (2007)
  • Second-team AP All-Pro (2008)
  • 3x Pro Bowl Selection (2007-09)

Larry Fitzgerald

  • 4x Pro Bowl Selection (2013, 2015-17)

David Johnson

  • First-team AP All-Pro (2016)
  • Pro Bowl Selection (2016)

Chandler Jones

  • First-team AP All-Pro (2017)
  • Pro Bowl Selection (2017)

Andrew Luck

  • Pro Bowl Selection (2012)

Peyton Manning

  • 2x Pro Bowl Selection (1999-2000)

Tyrann Mathieu

  • First-team AP All-Pro (2015)
  • Pro Bowl Selection (2015)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2013)

Heath Miller

  • Pro Bowl Selection (2009)

Christian Okoye

  • First-team AP All-Pro (1989)
  • Second-team AP All-Pro (1991)
  • 2x Pro Bowl Selection (1989, 1991)
  • AFC Offensive Player of the Year (1989)

Willie Parker

  • Pro Bowl Selection (2007)

Carson Palmer

  • Second-team AP All-Pro (2015)
  • Pro Bowl Selection (2015)

Patrick Peterson

  • 2x First-team AP All-Pro (2013, 2015)
  • 5x Pro Bowl Selection (2013-17)

Maurkice Pouncey

  • First-team AP All-Pro (2011)
  • Second-team AP All-Pro (2010)
  • 2x Pro Bowl Selection (2010-11)

Ben Roethlisberger

  • 2x Pro Bowl Selection (2007, 2011)

Mike Wallace

  • Pro Bowl Selection (2011)

Hines Ward

  • Second-team AP All-Pro (2004)
  • Pro Bowl Selection (2004)

Reggie Wayne

Pro Bowl Selection (2012)

Offensive Milestones Under Arians
Arizona Cardinals

  • Most points scored in a season in team history (489 in 2015).
  • Most yards gained in a season in team history (6,533 in 2015).
  • Most touchdowns scored in a season in team history (58 in 2015).
  • Most passing touchdowns in a season in team history (35 in 2015).
  • Most first downs in a season in team history (373 in 2015).
  • Most passing first downs in a single season in team history (237 in 2015).

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Then-most passing touchdowns in a season in team history (34 in 2007).
  • Then-highest passer rating in a season in team history (99.9 in 2007).
  • Then-highest completion percentage in team history (65.5 in 2009).
  • Then-highest third-down conversion rate (46.8 percent in 2007).

Larry Fitzgerald

  • Most receptions in a season in team history (109 in 2015 & 2017).
  • Led NFL in receptions (107 in 2016)

David Johnson

  • Most rushing touchdowns in a single season in team history (16 in 2016).
  • Most touchdowns in a single season in team history (20 in 2016).
  • Most yards from scrimmage in a single season in team history (2,118 in 2016).
  • Led NFL in total touchdowns (20 in 2016).
  • Led NFL in scrimmage yards (2,118 2016).

Peyton Manning

  • Led NFL in passing yards (4,413 in 2000).
  • Tied for NFL lead in passing touchdowns (33 in 2000).

Carson Palmer

  • Most passing touchdowns in a season in team history (35 in 2015).
  • Most passing yards in a season in team history (4,671 in 2015).
  • Highest passer rating in a season in team history (104.6 in 2015).
  • Highest yards per attempt in a season in team history (8.70 in 2015).
  • Led NFL in yards per attempt (8.7 in 2015).

Christian Okoye

  • Then-most rushing yards in a season in team history (1,480 in 1989).
  • Led NFL in rushing yards (1,480 1989).

Ben Roethlisberger

  • Highest passer rating in a season in team history (104.1 in 2007).
  • Then-most passing touchdowns in a season in team history (32 in 2007).
  • Then-highest completion percentage in a season in team history (66.60 in 2009).
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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

12 COMMENTS

  1. Arians is a big win for the Bucs organization. That wealth of knowledge and honesty is needed now more than ever to right the ship.

    Bucs franchise is at a critical cross roads in terms of salary cap and also player development. Arians hire and timing seem to line up and favors the Bucs heavily.

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  2. Nothing on Bowles? How certain are we he’s wrapped up?

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  3. Agree Allday… the stars really aligned for this to happen… especially since publically BA said he would only come out of retirement for Cleveland HC job! Now we know why Licht wasn’t fired with Koetter. I really feel as if this could turn out quite well for Buccaneers. There could be some very interesting coming and goings, player wise. Interesting to see how Free Agents view Buccaneers as a destination now. Good day indeed!

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    • I think Arians was just saying that because it was the only open job at the time. It was his way of saying, “if you’re firing a coach, call me.” Can’t be circling like a vulture over coaches who are dead men walking. I bet Licht had already reached out to Bruce before then, knowing how the season was going with his coaching staff and with the Glazers wanting a contingency plan if Koetter couldn’t pull out of the nosedive

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      • Glad someone else realized why Bruce guarded his comment.

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  4. I had no idea the list of health concerns was so long, varied, and severe. A much bigger red flag than I assumed. Let’s hope it’s in the past but probability says he will go through some stuff at some point during this contract

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  5. I guess now we know who will become Head Coach in the event BA has to step down with another health concern… Todd Bowles!

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  6. This is a very inclusive article on Arians background, thank you for that research. I truly hope this works out, but past success is never a good indicator for future success. It is dealing with the present problems that will determine if they win or not next year. At a high level they are turnovers, the sometimes lack of a running game, and defensive breakdowns. Fix those three things and the chances for success skyrocket.

    The only scary thing is this is something the Bucs have done many times before – taking former head NFL coaches and then having a disaster. They are:
    Leeman Bennett – First Falcons (47-44 with multiple playoff appearances) then Tampa (4-28)
    Sam Wyche – First Cincinnati (61-66 appeared in a Super Bowl, multiple playoff appearances) then Tampa (23-41)
    Jon Gruden – First Raiders (40-28, lost Super Bowl, multiple playoffs), then Tampa (57-55, won Super Bowl, multiple playoffs – one very successful Tampa transfer, and only other winning coach besides Tony Dungy, who won AFTER Tampa with the Colts)
    Lovie Smith – First Chicago (81-63 with multiple playoff appearances and one Super Bowl loss), and then Tampa (8-24).

    So overall, Tampa’s history at picking up winners is pretty terrible. Bennett won extensively in Atlanta but was a disaster in Tampa. Wyche won a lot in Cincinnati and made a Super Bowl but was mediocre in Tampa. Gruden was a winner in LA and then won in Tampa (the only one on this list to do this). Lovie Smith won extensively in Chicago making a Super Bowl but was a disaster in Tampa. See the general pattern?

    I admit this has to do a lot with the management as well as the coaching. If the management and the coach do not have the talent on the field, no matter who the coach is you are going to lose. This list is a little slanted because back in the earlier days when Culverhouse was making the decisions, he was bankrupting the team while his rental/building empire got a lot of the money his football team made. It made it hard for ANY coach to succeed. If you look at the Glazers alone only hiring former NFL winners, Gruden and Smith, they are 1 for 2 in success.

    It is why I wrote before and I will write again now – this is a good move, but if the talent is not on the team he will fail just as badly as Smith did most likely. We are now going to find out if Jason Licht is a good GM and his draft/talent evaluation team is good or not. Either way we will know the true value of the current management structure by December next year. The team’s record will say it all.

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    • Bucs stops here; one thing to note is that Bennett, wyche, and Smith we’re all fired by their previous teams. Neither Gruden nor Arians were fired and both cost draft picks to get.

      Hopefully this is an indicator that Aryans ends up more like the Gruden trade and that we get multiple division titles and a Super Bowl run out of it.

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      • True, that is the hope but no guarantee – I totally get that.

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    • Um, not quite. Past success is the BEST indicator of future success. It would be more correct to say “past success is no guarantee of future success,” but it is absolutely the BEST indicator we have for future success.

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  7. Bruce is a good leader, can we draft & develop the right way especially on defense. Bruce welcome to the mecca of sports especially pig skin. I hope you understand we butter our bread with defense and a solid running game. Contrary to what the national media thinks we do know good fundamentally sound football. Deliver that you be a legend in these parts like Dungy & da silver fox.

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