It was almost an offer he couldn't refuse.

For one thing, it was from Italy.For another thing, it was from his father.

And for another, he could make as much money in six months as he was making for a year.

Dave Arslanian's loyalties to Weber State College, and to his longterm goal of one day being the head coach there, had their sternest test late

last fall when Sark Arslanian, Dave's dad, took a job coaching the Milan Seamen in the Italian Professional Football League. Sark called Dave, the offensive coordinator at Weber State, and invited him to become the Seamen's offensive coordinator.

The season would start with preseason training in January, and run through July. After that, they could travel around Europe, see the world.

This wasn't the first time a coach had approached Dave Arslanian with an offer to join another staff. Several times during his eight years as an assistant at Weber he received overtures, including one from BYU just two seasons before the Cougars' national championship year.

He always turned the offers aside, even though some were from bigger programs. If he was ever going to move on in coaching, he wanted it to be at Weber State.

He had made that determination early on, when he was still a teen-ager, growing up in Ogden, and he both unabashedly idolized the head coach of the Weber State Wildcats, and coveted his office.

Weber's coach at the time was none other than the current coach of the Milan Seamen.

"I remember when I was still in high school and they moved the football offices up to Wildcat Stadium, where they are now," says Dave. "I'd go into my dad's office, sit back in his chair and put my feet up on the desk. I'd think, `This is it. This is the big time."'

So he bided his time.

He first made a junior college name for himself at Snow College, winning three conference titles during a six-year tenure as the head coach there. The funny thing was, Sark Arslanian had moved on by then, taking over as head coach at Colorado State. And he resisted hiring either Dave or his younger brother, Paul, who had also gone into coaching. He didn't want anyone to think his sons had made it only because of their father.

After the success at Snow, Dave was hired to Mike Price's staff at Weber. He became the offensive coordinator three seasons ago, and proceeded to direct Wildcat offenses that averaged 33 points and 440 yards per game.

When Price was hired away by Washington State, Weber turned to Dave and asked him if he'd like to sit in the head coaches' chair.

The first thing he did was say yes. The second thing he did was get on the phone and call Italy.

"He talked about how happy he was at getting the Weber job, and how happy he was he'd turned me down," said Sark late last week via telephone from Milan (Where his Seamen, by the way, are already 3-0 in league play).

"Not going to Italy was a tough, tough decision," says Dave. "Dad wanted both me and Paul (the defensive coordinator at Northern Arizona University) to come with him. We have so much professional respect for each other, and we're very close. I'd always wanted to play for my father (which he did, as a defensive back at Weber State), and I've always wanted to coach with him. But I'd invested so much in Weber State. I finally decided I coudn't just leave."

Paul didn't go to Italy, either, although he might have been persuaded if Dave had decided to as well.

"What I like about this story," said Paul this week from Flagstaff, "is that here's a guy who made a commitment to a school; and now they're making a commitment back. Dave had a lot of chances to go elsewhere. But he didn't. This was something he was committed to do. He was always the goal-setter in the family. He had his life mapped out when he was growing up."

The head coaching job at Weber State was, and is, on the map. And as of last week, you know where you can find Dave Arslanian. He's the coach sitting in his dad's old office . . . with his feet propped up on the desk.