- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- By the time the 2012 season started, 24 years had elapsed since Bruce Arians was last a head coach.
He had accepted his fate as a lifelong assistant coach.
But no one knew when he accepted a job as the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator in 2012 that three games into the regular season, Arians would have an opportunity to be a head coach again. And out of an unfortunate circumstance a career as a head coach for the Arizona Cardinals was born. During the first installment of "Coach Speak" -- a roundtable discussion filmed with New York Jets coach and Arians disciple Todd Bowles, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and new Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn -- Arians said it took the 2012 season for him to know he was ready to be an NFL head coach.
"I don't think I ever knew until I got to practice," said Arians, who was the head coach at Temple from 1983-88. "I'm the only guy that got to practice 12 games to be a head coach when it wasn't really real. I got the bug real fast. I never thought it really happened."
Bowles, who was the Cardinals' defensive coordinator under Arians in 2013 and 2014, also was asked when he knew he was ready to be a head coach.
"[Arians] told me I was ready, so it was kind of easy for me," Bowles said. "He always said I would be one and he kind of tooted my horn more than anybody else and knew me better than anybody else."
Arians said there was "no doubt" he knew Bowles would be a head coach in the NFL at some point. He also knew his rise to the top job would be fast -- which it was, relatively. His first assistant's job was in 2000 with the New York Jets. In 2011, he was the interim head coach with the Dolphins for their final three games.
Four years later, he's a full-time head coach in New York.
But Arians started thinking about Bowles as a head coach about six years ago, he said.
"I thought I would be working for him," Arians said. "I would say, 'Hey, save me a job; you're going to be a head coach soon, save me a job.'"
242dJeff Legwold and Josh Weinfuss