Arians outpoints Pagano for coach of year

February, 2, 2013
2/02/13
8:53
PM ET

Do your homework on the 2012 Indianapolis Colts, and it’s not hard to learn that while head coach Chuck Pagano missed 12 games battling leukemia, he had a strong hand in what offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was doing as his fill-in.

That’s why the most logical vote for coach of the year would have been a split one, naming both.

But the 50 voters for the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award didn’t go that way.

Arians won the award with 36.5 votes. Pagano came in second with 5.5. Pete Carroll got five and Leslie Frazier got three.

Arians is now head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

(How bad would it have been if both getting votes meant neither won?)

Per ESPN Stats & Information, Pagano is officially credited with each win and loss by the Colts this season (11-5), so Arians won the award without an official win or loss on his record. He thrived in circumstances we'll likely never see again.

He is first Colts coach to win the award since the team moved to Indianapolis.

The team’s nine-win improvement from 2011 to 2012 tied for the second-best one season gain in NFL history. The Elias Sports Bureau says the Colts were just the second team in the past 25 years to reach the playoffs the year after winning two or fewer games.

Arians was an outstanding leader, teacher and messenger for the Colts in Pagano’s absence. A year ago, he was fired by the Steelers. Now, a guy who thought that his window for a head-coaching opportunity was past is one of 32 men with the job title.

I’m sure Pagano will say the offensive coordinator and interim coach was completely deserving, and Arians will say he should have shared it with his former boss.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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