Login | June 18, 2019

New Akron football coach comes home

RICHARD WEINER
Legal News Reporter

Published: January 7, 2019

Tomas Edward “Tom” Arth has the strongest possible northeast Ohio athletic roots.

He was born in Westlake, played quarterback for the legendary Chuck Kyle at St. Ignatius, attended quarterback camp with Bernie Kosar, played and coached at John Carroll University and was the head coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He also played in NFL Europe and for the Canadian Football League and Arena League and was one of Peyton Manning’s backup quarterbacks with the Indianapolis Colts.

After all of that, he is now the head football coach for the University of Akron, and he, his family and the school could not be happier.

Arth, 47, and his wife Lauren have five children. Lauren and the children and a good 20 members of Arth’s family attended the press conference held recently at the university. Also in attendance were Kyle and Kosar, a testament to the respect Arth has in the community.

“Northeast Ohio is a special place,” Arth said in his introductory press conference. “I grew up 30 minutes from here. This is a rare opportunity, to be a Division I coach so close to where I grew up and my family is from.” Family, he said, is the most important thing in his life.

Arth’s former athletic director at John Carroll, Christopher Wenzler, echoed Arth’s dedication to his family.

“I know his family, and I am sure they are thrilled to be back in northeast Ohio, maybe almost as much as we are thrilled to have him back,” he said.

At the same time, though, Arth would not have gotten the job unless he was the superior candidate, said athletic director Lawrence Richard “Larry” Williams II.

Williams is a former lineman for the Cleveland Browns and a former intellectual property attorney.

“We wanted to find a leader who had certain qualifications,” said Williams. Among those he said are high energy, a commitment to integrity, a desire to personally recruit, and a commitment to the community. Also on the list was a preference from a coach with local ties.

“We vetted a large candidate field. We traveled around the country talking with candidates. (A trip that included attendance at the soccer team’s appearance in the NCAA final game). “Tom stood out in every respect,” Williams said. “He checked every box.”

Interim university president John C. Green was also enthusiastic Arth.

“We are very excited about the selection,” said Green.

The critical factors in choosing Arth, said Green, were a commitment to excellence on the field and success in the classroom.

But also of importance were his local ties. “Northeast Ohio has a fantastic talent pool,” in athletics and beyond, said Green. “Akron graduates can compete against anyone,” in any field. The signing of Arth, he said, is “another example of success in the region.”

Arth, Williams and Green all talked about the importance of academics to the football program going forward.

When asked later to expand his views on this topic, Arth said that there should not be anything more important to the football players than their academic success.

“These guys are getting a free college education,” he said. He also said that he had specific ways of responding to athletes who get into academic trouble, but that he would also have to review and work with the university’s procedures.

In terms of the game itself, Arth displayed his trust in his background and training as a quarterback by saying that his offense would be quarterback-centric—similar to the Colts under Manning, with emphasis on reading defenses and making play calls at the line of scrimmage.

He said he expects to take command of the team on the field in the same way that he did as a quarterback.

Williams more than once complimented him on his “high football IQ.”

And even after all these years, when asked who he wanted to emulate as a coach, Arth said “Chuck Kyle.”

Wenzler had a little take on the football side as well.

“With John Carroll graduates on the Kent State staff, I think that the rivalry between the two schools just became that much more interesting. I would love to catch that game!”

All in all, the press conference was summed up best by the university president, who said, simply: “Welcome home, Tom.”


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