People are starting to take notice.

Want proof?

Just perform a Google search on "Bruce Arians: Coach of the Year."

In less than a second, 488,000 results will pop up on the computer screen.

Yes, people are most definitely starting to take notice.

They should.

That's because the York High graduate has done a near-miraculous job as the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts this season.

He took over on Oct. 1 under terrible circumstances. The Colts' first-year head coach, Chuck Pagano, was forced to take a medical leave of absence to battle leukemia. Arians, in his first year as the Colts' offensive coordinator, was handed the reins to a team in turmoil. It was his first-ever shot at leading an NFL team.


Indianapolis was 1-2 at the time and was coming off a horrid 2-14 season. They were playing a rookie at quarterback, albeit the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Andrew Luck. Still, when you have a rookie at QB there will be growing pains, no matter how smart and talented he is.

Almost nothing was expected of the Colts this season. Under the difficult circumstances, doubling last year's victory total and winning four games in 2012 would've been considered a major success by most pundits.

Arians and the Colts, however, had other ideas.

Inspired by Pagano's heroic approach to his illness, Arians and the Colts have gone on one of the more remarkable runs in recent NFL history, winning seven of their last nine games to improve to 8-4. If the season ended today, the Colts would make the AFC playoffs.

How unbelievable is that?

After all, Arians was unceremoniously kicked to the curb at the end of last season by the Pittsburgh Steelers after serving as that team's offensive coordinator for five years, including a Super Bowl championship in February of 2009. He was also the wide receivers coach for Pittsburgh's 2006 Super Bowl-winning team.

Last year, the Steelers finished 12-4 with Arians calling the plays. But after a first-round, overtime playoff loss to Denver, Arians became the Steelers' fall guy.

Many Steelers' fans were unhappy with his play calling, but fans always moan about play calling. It's what they do.

But the team's management apparently felt Arians had become too cozy with the team's franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger, and had abandoned the team's traditional run-oriented offensive philosophy. They believed it was time for change.

Arians went looking for a job -- again. It's something he's used to. Being a coach in the NFL and major college football is a nomadic existence.

In the NFL, Arians has had assistant coaching gigs with the Chiefs, Saints, Browns, Steelers and the Colts. In fact, this is Arians' second stint with the Colts. He was Indy's QB coach from 1998-2000 and helped turn Peyton Manning into a perennial Pro Bowl performer.

In college football, he's had jobs with Virginia Tech (his alma mater), Mississippi State, Alabama and Temple. He had two stints each at Mississippi State and Alabama. His only previous head coaching job was a thankless one at longtime doormat Temple from 1983-1988, when he at least made the Owls respectable.

With all the contacts he's made in his career and his strong resume, it wasn't surprising that the 60-year-old Arians quickly landed a job with the Colts.

Then, on Oct. 1, Arians' football world changed forever. He was thrown into a job he never expected to have. Since then, he's said and done all the right things. He provided stability and leadership for a team in desperate need of both.

He's consistently said that the Colts are still Pagano's team. He's simply holding down the fort until his return. As a cancer survivor himself, Arians can relate to what Pagano is enduring.

Now Pagano is reportedly in complete remission and the team is hoping he can return as the team's full-time head coach by the end of the season.

If that happens, it would be the feel-good story of the NFL season.

You want another feel-good story? How about Arians and Pagano sharing the NFL Coach of the Year Award. The two have continually displayed a united front during this most tumultuous season. It would be completely appropriate if that continued when the postseason awards are handed out and they shared the coaching honor.

No single coach would deserve it more.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdis