TEMPE, Ariz. -- If it were up to Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, Sunday’s game wouldn’t be on the schedule.
Not this soon. Not this year. Not ever.
In his 11th game as a head coach, Arians will have to defog his glasses and coach against the one team that may tug at his heart the most, the Indianapolis Colts. The story is well-known. After three games last season, Arians took over for Chuck Pagano, who was being treated for leukemia, and led the Colts to a 9-3 record and the playoffs as interim coach.
Those 12 games led Arians to coach of the year and eventually the Cardinals job.
Because of how the NFL rotates its scheduling, Arians knew Arizona would be playing Indianapolis when he was hired in January. He had to wait until April, however, to find out where.
“I was hoping it would never be on the schedule because too many emotional ties to what happened last year to have to play them,” Arians said. “I’m glad we are playing here and not there. That would really be tough to walk into that stadium.
“But it will be fun to see those guys, especially those young kids on offense that we had a chance to work with last year. It’s going to be a challenge defensively to stop them.”
Arians will spend his time this week figuring just how to do that. Preparing for his former student, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, may just be the easiest part of Arians' week.
“It’s seeing them in person where you get emotionally involved because it was such an emotional year last year,” Arians said. “Get through that in warm-ups.
“But the preparation for the ballgame will be just like every other.”
His former players, however, can’t wait to see Arians.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be excited to see him,” Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said. “I texted him this offseason, so it’ll be good to see him again.”
Arians typically wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to football. He’ll tell a player exactly how he feels. And he doesn’t shy away from expressing himself on the sideline.
Sunday won’t be any different. He’ll be as emotional if not more.
“But I will hide it very well,” Arians said.