Bruce Arians: A Temple Football Life


If you didn’t get a chance to watch “Bruce Arians: A Football Life” on the NFL Network, please do.

There is a lot of good Temple football footage in there and some even better stories. Too bad they didn’t have time to tell all of the good Temple Arians’ stories. For purposes of this space, we’ll just tell two that will not make any national TV show.


Full disclosure: I was the Calkins Newspapers’ Temple football beat writer for almost all of the Arians’ years and got to know the man fairly well–enough to get him a recruit who later became a captain of the 1990 Temple team, center Dick Beck.

Beck, Arians, Central Bucks West coach Mike Pettine (the father of the current Cleveland Browns’ head coach) are the only other people who know this story, but, on the occasion of Bruce coming to town this weekend to play the Eagles, it deserves repeating.


Sheldon and Bruce at  TU’s indoor facility.

Beck was, without a doubt, the best offensive guard I had ever seen in my years of covering high school sports. On one sweep, he knocked down the nose guard, got up pancaked a linebacker, rolled out of that block, and nailed a corner. This would happen pretty much with regularity, although mostly with just two defenders. When he was a senior, I made it to a CB West practice and stood next to Pettine in the equipment room before casually asking where Dick Beck was going to school.

“It’s between Towson State and West Chester State,” Pettine said.


Bruce’s “kid” Joe Greenwood and Joe’s kid, Joe Greenwood III

“What? That’s not happening,” I said. “I’ll talk to Bruce.”

When I got back to the Doylestown Intelligencer, I picked up the phone and called Arians and told him Beck is really, really good.  He asked me for Pettine’s number and Pettine was able to have an assistant drive down to Temple to deliver film the next day.

Arians called me that night.

“Mike, we really like his film but we already have our limit,” Arians said. “If one guy backs out, we’re giving it to Beck.”

One 6-4, 275-pound lineman backed out to go to Ivy League Brown and the rest was history.

“Dick should buy you dinner,” Pettine said, “but he can only afford McDonald’s.”

Not necessary, I said.


Dick Beck.

Beck played his best ball not for Arians, but for Jerry Berndt, who succeeded Arians but Beck was one of the many very good players Arians recruited at Temple and became the only captain of the 1990 Owls, who finished 7-4 and should have made a bowl game. He is now head coach at North Penn in Lansdale and won a state large school championship there.

The other story happened the next year when Temple President Peter J. Liacouras made his biggest mistake. Arians had a farewell press conference that I covered at Mitten Hall. I leaned on the back wall the entire time. After it was over, Bruce made his way to the back of the room and walked up to me and shook my hand.


Dick Beck carrying BA off the field was better than dinner at McDonald’s.

“Mike, thanks for the great things you wrote about my kids,” Bruce said, shaking my hand before exiting for Broad Street.

That’s how Bruce referred to his players, his kids. They are still his kids to this day, guys like Sheldon Morris, Ray Haynes, Joe Greenwood, Kevin Jones, Paul Palmer and really too many to mention. Almost all have his phone number and stay in touch to this day.

That’s the kind of guy Arians was and is and Temple’s mistake became the Eagles’ mistake when it hired Chip Kelly instead. His head coaching football life started at Temple and we were all lucky to be a part of it.

Tomorrow: Bring on Toledo


18 thoughts on “Bruce Arians: A Temple Football Life

    • I cannot believe the number of TU haters out there. Why does this clown Murphy care what TU does? No one in the press said a thing when the City built two new stadiums in South Philly. The fact is that the stadium will have other uses. Moreover, it will be TU’s and not Lurie’s.

      • when you have lasalle people in key positions (columnist for inky, columnist for dn) this is what happens. an inferiority complex. they absolutely cannot stand any success Temple has. Had Katz lived, Sielski would have been fired the day after the PSU game, that’s how livid Lew would have been.

    • By that logic, Temple should get rid of all student activities besides classes, that do not make a profit. No more activities or clubs of any kind. No matter how much Temple reduces the amount that it gives to clubs, non-revenue sports, activities such as alumni relations, a portion of what the school allocates always comes out of students tuition and the state contribution. Some of us might think that is nonsense.

      • What clown Murphy failed to consider is that if TU averages 30k a game at 30 bucks a ticket, it will gross in excess of 1 mil a game when parking and concessions are included. On top of that if Boca can have a bowl, certainly Philly would support an early December game. Besides, you could use it for the lacrosse championships, Have heard that if the Owls were to be invited into the ACC one of the requirements for entry would be forming a lacrosse team.

      • would also be a great place for an Imhotep vs. Wood or Prep vs. LaSalle playoff game.

    • … and his recruiting ability, too. 2 4*s de-committed to Temple the day he was fired (one was Alonzo Spielman, who later became an All-American at Ohio State). That was the power of Bruce’s personality. He found diamonds like Paul Palmer, but he also was able to recruit 4*s to Temple because he had swag and kids are attracted to swag. He still does.

  1. Mike,

    Great stuff about Bruce, he had a way of bringing out a passion in myself and my Temple teammates. You wanted to be your best for Bruce, the coaches and your teammates. I remember him coming to my Mother’s house in Camden with John Devlin and he basically told me that he recruits on football ability but also that he wants the kind of person “that if he was ever in a bar fight and stood back to back with me that he wouldn’t have to worry.” I wanted to sign that second….he was speaking my language!

    I had the pleasure of playing next to Dick Beck (king of the leverage drill) – great player and leader on the field!

    Thanks for bringing back some great memories…..Go Owls!

  2. I went to Central Bucks HS just before Pettine became coach. This story about Beck is sure interesting. Too bad he doesn’t coach at CB instead of their arch rival North Penn. CB West could use him – they have never been the same since Pettine left. He was nationally ranked year after year and for the first time in 40 years brought a state championship to a school in eastern PA.
    John your last sentence about a new stadium would be Temple’s, not Lurie’s is, ironically, part of the problem. Super rich business guys like him always get what they want (like stadiums) because they hold so much clout, but Temple on it’s own will have a tough row to hoe.

    • cbw has problems now that will never be fixed. cbw could survive the split of cb into east and west, but not south. splitting the talent 3 ways meant mediocrity. You don’t see north penn split up as north penn east, west and south. At least, with east, the football kids gravitated to Pettine and the basketball kids stayed with Bob Walsh. The “recruiting” stopped with the creation of South.

  3. The zinc oxide is a very cool touch. Only a really cool person can pull that off.

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