Bruce Arians ready to face Colts

Updated: November 21, 2013, 9:02 AM ET
By Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sunday can't come soon enough for Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.

The week is more than half over and the build-up to the Indianapolis Colts' trip to Arizona has dominated headlines. Almost half of the questions during Arians' news conference Monday were about the emotion of playing the Colts. That number dropped to just a handful on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeBruce Arians
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Bruce Arians, now the Cardinals' coach, stepped in for coach Chuck Pagano last year and led a Colts team coming off a two-win season to the playoffs.

But Arians is ready for it to be over.

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "It was such a unique situation because there was no handbook. [Colts general manager] Ryan Grigson did an unbelievable job, the entire staff. There are times to let it go.

"Hopefully, after this week we can let some of it go, but never let go of the triumph that [Colts coach] Chuck [Pagano] beat that leukemia. Never lose sight of that."

It'll be hard for Arians to ever separate himself from the narrative of his time with the Colts. 

After Arians was reportedly forced to retire as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2011 season, Pagano revived his coaching life, hiring him in January 2012 for the same role in Indianapolis. Then his performance as interim coach not only earned him the Coach of the Year Award but led to his job with the Cardinals.

Arians is the first person to be named coach of the year and then face the team he won the award with the following season as coach of a different team, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Even Arians can't believe the past two years.

"From refired -- excuse me, retired -- to this, I don't think anybody would have dreamt it," Arians said with a wily smirk. "It's a fairly tale. It truly is.

"I hate that to get an opportunity to be a head coach we had to go through last year, but it was the only way. Winning Super Bowls and getting to Super Bowls wasn't good enough."

But going 9-3 as an interim coach was, and, at 60, Arians became a head coach for the first time.

"You've got to love it," Pagano said. "It's a great country we live in. We laugh about it but long overdue."

Arians has already said he wished Sunday's game was never on the schedule. But it is and Arians is treating it like any other must-win game. Arians said he and Pagano talk "pretty much every week" but that communication has been curtailed this week.

However, Arians predicted his assistants with Colts ties will engage in a battle of textual jousting with their Indianapolis counterparts.

The hardest part for Arians on Sunday will be coaching against his former players, colleagues and one of his best friends. But once the pregame neck hugs are over, it'll be like any other Sunday afternoon.

"There will be a lot of hugging and high-fiving," Arians said. "And then just like playing your brother in your backyard, I'm kicking your ass."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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