Arsla­nian quickly turned for­tunes for Rams foot­ball

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Mike Bro­hard

Sark Arsla­nian, who re­minded the Colorado State foot­ball pro­gram what it was like to win again, died Sun­day af­ter­noon at his home in St. Ge­orge, Utah. He was 92.

Arsla­nian spent nine sea­sons as the Rams’ coach (1973-81), a ten­ure matched by Bob Davis and ex­ceeded only by Harry Hughes and Sonny Lu­bick. Un­der Arsla­nian’s guid­ance, the Rams went 45-47-4, with the mag­i­cal run of 1977 in the mid­dle.

Dur­ing that sea­son CSU went 9-2-1, high­lighted by a win over No. 12 Ari­zona State. By 1975, the pro­gram had just one win­ning sea­son in the prior 15. Arsla­nian’s teams had four be­fore he was re­placed by Ch­ester Cad­das mid­way through the 1981 sea­son.

“Sark, first of all was al­ways good to me and a good friend, a per­son I could call on and count on,” said Gary Ozzello, who works in the CSU mar­ket­ing depart­ment and served as the sports in­for­ma­tion di­rec­tor at the time Arsla­nian coached. “I look back and Sark brought to Colorado State Univer­sity some of the most in­cred­i­ble per­form­ers ever. When you look at the play­ers he brought in, it’s amaz­ing to think about the level of tal­ent he had here.

“I think he em­bod­ies ev­ery­thing we talk about be­ing Rams’ pride.”

Arsla­nian ar­rived with the Rams com­ing off a 1-10 sea­son. He won five games his first year, the Rams led the na­tion in pass­ing his sec­ond year, and in his third sea­son they had a win­ning record at 6-5.

Mark Driscoll, who played quar­ter­back and coached un­der Arsla­nian, re­mem­bers a man who was de­voted to the peo­ple around him.

“He al­ways was a very kind and com­pas­sion­ate per­son,” said Driscoll, who helped cel­e­brate his for­mer men­tor’s 90th birth­day in Utah. “I learned a lot from him about that. He had a great way about peo­ple; he treated peo­ple fairly and al­ways had a com­pas­sion for peo­ple. He al­ways thought the best of peo­ple.

“I have a lot that I owe to Sark Arsla­nian for what I have in my life.”

Driscoll re­mem­bers that trait pay­ing off for Arsla­nian as a coach, be­cause he was great at talk­ing to fam­i­lies with in-home vis­its. It al­lowed Arsla­nian to raise the tal­ent level at the school, and that showed as many of them played at the next level.

Arsla­nian was also ahead of the curve in the pass­ing game, putting many of his best ath­letes on the of­fen­sive side of the ball and go­ing to the air at a time when run-first of­fenses were still the norm.

He had two play­ers, line­backer Kevin McLain (1975) and de­fen­sive line­man Mike Bell (1977-78) earn All-Amer­ica recog­ni­tion from at least one group, both of them get­ting first-team ac­claim. There were 27 Rams drafted by the NFL while he coached, with Bell be­ing the No. 2 over­all pick in 1979. Of the pro­gram’s five first-round picks, three played for Arsla­nian (McLain and Mark Mul­laney were the oth­ers). Ozzello noted that eight mem­bers of the 1977 de­fense alone played in the NFL.

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