Former ASU football coach Frank Kush has passed away. He was 88.

Frank Kush was more than an old school, hard-nosed football coach.  He did more than put Arizona State football on the map.

He brought triumph and exposure to an infant sports market. He helped Arizona develop a national identity.  Just like Camelback Mountain and Jerry Colangelo, he will be part of our landscape forever.

During Kush’s first season in the Valley, enrollment at ASU was 10,000 students.  In his final season, that number had grown to 37,000.

He was responsible for ASU’s admission into the Pac-10. The field at Sun Devil Stadium is named in his honor.  A statue of him was built to pay homage.  Meanwhile, Camp Tontozona in Payson was famous for Mount Kush, and at the start of training camp, the ASU head coach would walk with his team to the summit.

He would tell his players how much he abhorred mental mistakes.  And if any player made too many of them, they would return to the top of that mountain alone, as punishment.

His methods of discipline were legendary.  Former linebacker Bob Breunig remembers how the equipment manager would blow a whistle every morning at 6:30 a.m., and that it was “the worst sound you’ve ever heard.”

Kush produced victories.  He turned boys into men.  He went 16-5 against rival Arizona. He brought a level of fame to the ASU program that it has struggled to replicate ever since. 

Many newcomers to the Valley have only heard stories and have little concept of his impact on a sleepy, desert town.  But he changed a university.  He changed lives.  He impacted State 48 for the better.

The world has changed dramatically, and Kush’s style of coaching is almost extinct.  Some say it wouldn’t work today. 

But those who played for him and loved him wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reach Bickley at [email protected] or 602-444-8253. Follow him on  Listen to “Bickley and Marotta” weekdays from 12-2 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.


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