Arians' backup plan was teaching P.E. and driver's ed while coaching football

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If Bruce Arians had it his way back in 1974, he would've been calling plays in a Washington, D.C., suburb, passing his offensive ingenuity onto a younger generation of football players.

But instead of sharing it with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, his plan was to draw up go routes and double moves for a junior high team in Reston, Virginia. As a junior at Virginia Tech, Arians knew what he wanted to do with his life: teach junior high physical education and coach football, while trying his hand at high school driver's education.

"To me, when I grew up, I thought high school coaches were rich," Arians said.

The craziest part of Arians' plan was teaching driver's ed. He was asked Monday if he had the patience to teach hormonal teenagers how to navigate the roads.

"Maybe," he said with a sly smile. "Maybe back then."

When Jimmy Sharpe was hired as Virginia Tech's coach in 1974, he persuaded his quarterback to stay another season. As a senior, Arians set the Virginia Tech record with 11 rushing touchdowns for a quarterback -- a mark that was tied by Cardinals rookie Logan Thomas in 2011 -- and then joined Sharpe's staff as a graduate assistant in 1975.

"I would've still been a junior high teacher-coach if I could've got a damn job," Arians said. "I couldn't get one. He talked me into coming back and got me into coaching."

His days as a junior high coach and teacher just weren't meant to be. All these years later, he still doesn't know why he wasn't hired.

The one job he tried to get was at a "big, brand new" school in Reston.

"When that thing was just opening up out there, I really wanted to go up there and get that job," Arians said. "It just didn't work out. Things always work out for the best."

As a result of climbing the ranks in college football and then the NFL for the past four decades, he's been forced to break long-standing plans with his college buddies, most of whom are just finishing their coaching careers, to reunite in Blacksburg, Virginia, on fall weekends. He's a bit busy these days.

"Most of my friends from college are just retiring now," Arians said. "They've got their 30 years in high school coaching.

"They're all mad because we all had these plans to go to Virginia Tech games," he added. "They text me every Saturday from the games in the parking lot, and I say, 'Ah, s---, I have to work.'"