Coach Frank Kush, Arizona State, 1958-1979
In 1955, Hall of Fame coach Dan Devine hired Frank Kush as one of his assistants at Arizona State. It was his first coaching job. Just three years later Kush succeeded Devine as head coach. On December 12, 1995 he joined his mentor and friend in the College Football Hall of Fame.
|Former ASU head coach Frank Kush stands next to a statue unveiled in his honor prior to the BYU game (Click on picture for larger image).|
Before he went on to become a top coach, Frank Kush was an outstanding player. he was a guard, playing both ways for Clarence "Biggie" Munn at Michigan State. He was small for a guard; 5-9, 175. But he played big. State went 26-1 during Kush's college days and in 1952 he was named to the Look Magazine All-America team.
As a coach, Kush ranks in the top-20 all-time winningest coaches with a 176-54-1 record (.764).
In his 22 years at the helm of Arizona State, Kush had 19 winning seasons, won nine conference championships and ran up a 6-1 bowl record.
He had undefeated teams in 1970 and 1975. He was named Coach of the Year in 1975 by the American Football Coaches Association of the Walter Camp Foundation and his team was ranked number two nationally by AP and UPI. He had unbeaten and untied winning streaks of 21, 13 and 12 (twice) at Arizona State.
Kush also coached 129 college players who made it in the pros.
Kush himself did some time in pro football. He coached the CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats to an Eastern Conference first-place and spent three seasons with the Baltimore Colts before moving back to Arizona to coach the USFL Phoenix team.
After the USFL folded, Kush stayed in Arizona and became active in public relations and community work.He is now executive director of the Arizona Boys Ranch, a center for reforming juvenile offenders.
Recollections of Frank Kush:
"I have known Frank for over 40 years and hold him in the highest regard, both as a coach and as an individual. He was an All-American player when I coached at Michigan State. During his senior year, he won the national championship, and he was an integral part of that team with his great desire and outstanding play.
"The first three years that I was a head coach, Frank was a loyal, hard-working and intelligent assistant coach to me at Arizona State. Without his dedication and help, we never would have had the outstanding record that we had during those years. He was named my successor at the age of 29, and his record over the next two decades speaks for itself."
- Dan Devine, former Head Coach,
Arizona State, Missouri,
Notre Dame and Green Bay
"I came to Arizona State on a football scholarship, and I shall always be indebted to Frank Kush for instilling toughness in his players. He was as tough as Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner rolled into one."
- Reggie Jackson, during his Baseball
Hall of Fame induction speech
"Frank Kush was able to get out of me something that no one else could get. He affected hundreds of athletes that he coached in that same way."
- Danny White, 1971-73
The Kush Tribute will honor the athletic achievements of Arizona State University and provide Coach Kush, his players and fans with a memorable reunion.
Among the highlights:
- The field at Sun Devil Stadium was renamed in honor of Coach Kush. Appropriate signage and publicity will help to ensure that either facility serves as a permanent tribute to an outstanding figure in ASU's sports history.
- The 1996 football season was dedicated to celebrating ASU's athletic tradition and the September 21 Nebraska game was designated "Frank Kush Day" at Sun Devil Stadium. All former Kush players were invited to participate in a spectacular half-time celebration that includes the rededication of the field with the unveiling of the Kush nameplate by ASU President Lattie Coor. The public celebration surrounding the game included a dinner roast, and a variety of pre-game activities that celebrated the athletic tradition at ASU and instilled pride in both alumni and friends.
The Frank Kush Tribute Endowment- An Investment in the Future
The combination of Lead Gifts, a community celebration at the designated game, and a variety of special fundraising events made the Frank Kush Tribute Endowment a reality. It acknowledges and honors a legendary coach by providing ASU student-athletes with the resource support they need for lifelong success.
Specifically, the football endowment:
- Establishes permanent support ($1 million) for the ASU Football Program to ensure its value to student-athletes, the University and the community.
- Establishes a special Summer Scholarship Endowment ($1 million) to provide incoming freshmen and ASU student-athletes with enhanced opportunities to complete university degree programs.
- Establishes permanent funding for Academic and Student Services ($1 million endowment) to provide student-athletes in every sport with the special support, tutoring and advising they need to succeed academically as well as athletically.
One of college football's legendary coaches, Frank Kush became Arizona State University's 15th head football coach on December 22, 1957. In the 22 seasons that followed, Kush brought unmatched success to the Sun Devil football program and unrivaled national prominence to Arizona State University. The following is a listing of some of the facts and figures which trace the Kush legend.
- Kush is ASU's coaching leader in years served (22), games-coached (231) and wins (176). He is second in winning percentage (.764), trailing his predecessor, Dan Devine who went 27-3-1 over a three year career.
- Nineteen of Kush's teams posted winning season records, 18 of which won at least seven games, 12 of which won at least eight, eight of which won at least nine, and six of which won 10 or more games in a season.
- Seven of Kush's teams played in post-season bowl games, posting a 6-1 won-loss record.
- Kush coached two of ASU's most important games -- the 1970 Peach Bowl and the 1975 Fiesta Bowl. In 1970, the Sun Devils received their first postseason bowl invitation in 19 years, and completed a 12-0 season with a 48-26 victory over North Carolina.Local sports historians point to that game as the introduction of Arizona State football to the national scene. Five years later, the Sun Devils again capped an undefeated season by downing Nebraska, 17-14. The win gave ASU a No. 2 national ranking for the year, and ushered ASU into the elite of college football programs.
- The success of Arizona State University football under Frank Kush led to increased exposure for the university through national and regional television appearances. Evidence of this can be traced to the fact that Arizona State's enrollment increased from 10,000 in 1958 (Kush's first season) to 37,122 in 1979 (Kush's final season), an increase of over 300%.
- 128 ASU football student-athletes coached by Kush were drafted by teams in the National, American and World Football Leagues. Kush-coached players have 17 combined NFL Pro Bowl appearances. Ten Kush-coached players were first-round NFL and AFL draft selections.
- 22 members of the Arizona State University football program from 1958 through 1979 are members of the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame. Kush is a member of the Hall of Distinction, which honors former ASU athletic administrators and coaches.
- The success of the Sun Devil football program under Kush led to expansion of Sun Devil Stadium to accommodate increased local interest. In 1969, the stadium was expanded from its original seating capacity of 35,000 to 50,000. In 1976, a two-year expansion project brought capacity to 70,021.
- Arizona State University's football success under Kush led to the move of the school's athletic program to the Pacific-10 Conference in 1978. Conference officials had been offered the opportunity to take the University of Arizona, but would only accept the idea if Arizona State was included. By joining, Arizona State University not only enjoyed increased attention for its athletic programs, but additional national prestige for its campus as well.
- In 21 meetings with the University of Arizona, Kush-coached teams won 16 games, including a streak of nine consecutive wins from 1965 through 1973.
- 38 Kush-coached student-athletes were honored as all-America.
- Kush-coached teams were annually among the national leaders in offensive statistics. The Sun Devils led the nation in total offense on four occasions under Kush. The Kush-coached Sun Devils led the nation in average points scored per game in consecutive seasons (1972-73).