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For the first time in NFL history, a former Temple football coach is leading a team in the Big Game. Bruce Arians, who this year took Tampa Bay to its winningest season in a decade, will make his first Super Bowl appearance on Feb. 7.
If you’re an Eagles fan, you might be tempted to root against Arians, whose Buccaneers are riding on the talents of much-hated Tom Brady at QB. Meanwhile their opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, have Philly’s beloved Andy Reid at the helm.
But there’s more local cred tipping the scales in Tampa Bay’s favor. It’s not just Arians — a whole swath of the coaching staff is Temple Made.
In addition to the HC, seven members on the Bucs’ coaching roster have been associated with the North Philadelphia university. Of five who are alumni, four played college ball directly under Arians. Two others coached at the school alongside him.
Arians came to Temple in 1983, and coached the Owls for six seasons with a 27-39 record. The 69-year old grew up in Patterson, N.J., and was a quarterback at Virginia Tech before joining the coaching staff as a graduate assistant. In 2013, Bruce and his wife, Christine, created the Arians Family Foundation to help children in the court system because of family abuse or neglect to get the help they need. Arians is also a three-time cancer survivor, having dealt with both prostate and kidney cancer.
When he returns to the NFL main stage next weekend, it’ll be somewhat familiar territory: Arians was a member of the Steelers coaching staff when they won the Lombardi Trophy in 2005 and 2008, as wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator.
This is Arians second season coaching the Bucs, and he’s pulled in lots of other Owls to help.
Other members of the Bucs coaching staff who were at Temple include the following folks.
Lori Locust (assistant defensive line coordinator) — former student
Locust is a former Temple student. Her ex-husband Andrew Locust was both coached by Arians and played alongside Ross and Bowles. Locust will be one of two women on the coaching staff across both teams in the Big Game.
Todd Bowles (defensive coordinator) — former player
Bowles, a New Jersey native, played football four years at Temple (1982 to 1985) as a defensive back. Then, played eight seasons in the NFL, spending seven seasons with the then Washington Redskins and one season with the San Francisco 49ers. He has a Superbowl ring being a starter for the 1987 Redskins team
Keith Armstrong (special teams coordinator) — former player
Armstrong played as a running back from 1983 to 1986, then became a graduate assistant for Temple in 1987. Armstrong is notable for his portrayal in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” documentary when he coached the Atlanta Falcons.
Todd McNair (running backs coach) — former player
McNair played as a running back from 1985 to 1988, which earned him a spot in the 2020 Temple Athletics Hall of Fame. He is the 8th all-time leading rusher for Temple, with almost 2400 yards. He’s played eight seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and then Houston Oilers.
Kevin Ross (cornerbacks coach) — former player
Ross, a Camden N.J native, played defensive back from 1980 to 1983, being inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2011 and Temple Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. Ross is also a two-time NFL pro bowler and a 14-year NFL veteran.
Nick Rapone (safeties coach) — former coach
Rapone served as Temple coaches alongside Arians. Rapone was the defensive coordinator and defensive secondary coach from 1983 to 1988. He spent almost 30 years in collegiate football coaching before heading to the NFL.
Clyde Christensen (quarterbacks coach) — former coach
Christensen served as quarterback and wide receivers coach from 1983 to 1985. In his 25 seasons in the NFL, he’s worked with three teams including the Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, and Miami Dolphins. He won a Super Bowl title with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006 as wide receivers coach.
The Super Bowl is set for Sunday, Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Notable in Arians’ favor: the Bucs are the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium.
Arians is looking for his first win as head coach, whereas opposing head coach Andy Reid is going for back-to-back Super Bowl wins as head coach. This is Reid’s eighth season as Chiefs head coach. Of course, most Philadelphia fans remember Reid as Eagles head coach before his departure in 2013.
Win or lose, Arians does not plan to retire after this season, he told 95.3 WDAE in Tampa Wednesday.