Nobody had to remind Dave Arslanian what big cleats he had to fill in taking over the head football coaching job at Weber State College.
Arslanian, 39, was appropriately nervous Wednesday morning as he was officially announced as Mike Price's successor at a news conference in the Dee Events Center.Like Price, who officially took over as coach at Washington State University on Tuesday morning, Arslanian was accepting what he considered his dream job, coaching at his alma mater. He showed off a couple of 1970s Weber game programs with his picture in them from when he was a Wildcat defensive back. Arslanian said he's turned down assistant's positions at bigger schools and head coaching jobs at other schools to remain with the Wildcats in hopes of some day getting the head job.
"Patience paid off," said Arlsanian, who prepped at Ogden's Bonneville High. "This
is the one I've had my sights on since I was a player."
He said he watched TV news clips of Price's Tuesday press conference in Pullman, Wash., and read Price's quotes in the Tuesday evening paper and wished he could use the same script Wednesday.
"Price has a way of saying the things all of us feel and the things we all wish we could say.
"No one could take Mike Price's place," Arslanian said, noting Price's humor and flamboyance, both on and off the field, and the ease with which Price talked publicly. "But I'm going to replace him and lead the program in the direction you'll be proud to see it go.
"I promise you," Arslanian added, starting to settle down and think about football after his opening remarks, "this is the last time I'll be this nervous."
He said he certainly won't feel that way once he gets down to the business of coaching. "The best thing I do," he said, "is get out on the football field and produce winners."
Arslanian is not just following Price as Wildcat coach. He's following his father, Sark Arslanian, too. Had Price stayed another year, the new coach noted, he would have broken Sark's record for most career wins by a coach at Weber. Price had 46, Sark 50. Dave has two legends to live up to.
"It comes on you real quickly," Arslanian said.
"I never dreamed it would take the firing of Tom Landry for Dave Arslanian to become head football coach at Weber State."
That is, however, what set the process in motion. Landry was fired when a new owner bought the team, and Jimmy Johnson was hired from University of Miami to take over the Cowboys. Dennis Erickson left Washington State for Miami, and Price replaced Erickson and recommended Arslanian replace him. Weber wasted little time in picking the eight-year Weber assistant who'd been head coach at Snow College for six seasons.
Arslanian said he can't compete with the Price-era antics on the field and compared his own coaching demeanor more to that of his father, who's now coaching in Italy, and that of Landry. Poised, confident, reserved.
He said BYU Coach Lavell Edwards called him Tuesday to offer words of comfort. Edwards, also reserved in style, replaced outgoing Tommy Hudspeth at BYU and felt pressure then. "Be yourself, don't worry about it," Edwards said.
While he differs in personality from Price - they complemented each other well in eight seasons together with Arslanian as first recruiter, then offensive coordinator and later "assistant head coach" - the Wildcat offense will remain basically the same.
"Offensively, nothing has to change," he said, adding that the Price/Arslanian/Weber offense has "evolved to where it's the best in the nation." He said Erickson hired away Weber's receiver coach to install the offense at Wyoming, then took that coach with him to Washington State, and Wyoming hired the next Wildcat receiver coach when Erickson left and came to study the Wildcat offense again.
"Well, there are a few minor details" that will change," Arslanian backtracked, noting that Jeff Carlson, Wade Orton, Gerald Wilcox and Fine Unga graduate, and they're among the best Weber's ever had at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end and running back. But, he said, there are players to move in - "young men, and like me, eager to fill those holes."
Arslanian called defense the top priority and noted Weber's 10-3 season two years ago came when the Wildcat defense was at its best. He wants an attacking, aggressive style with lots of blitzing but says most of the scheme will depend upon whom he hires for the defensive coordinator's job. Price took four assistants with him, including defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Weber Vice President of College Relations Robert DeBoer said Weber will begin a search for a new athletic director to fill Price's other position in about 10 days.