A luncheon honoring legendary Arizona State football coach Frank Kush was held Saturday at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Phoenix. Over 200 of his former players and fellow ASU big shots (including Lisa Love and Michael Crow) showed up to personally thank the college football hall of famer for the impact he made on their lives.
Eighteen iconic players including Jim Shaughnessy, Ron Pritchard and Danny White took the mic to share their favorite Kush memories with the audience. Tales of Camp Tontozona, hiking the dreaded Mount Kush and Coach Kush's colorful language were reminisced for the jam-packed conference room resulting in a quite a large number of laughs.
And Kush took every anecdote in stride while also showing a side that many fans had never seen by taking good-humored jabs back at his past pupils.
The roast-like affair concluded with all the players of the past rising from their seats and gathering around the man they affectionately still call "coach" for one last speech. Kush began by chronicling his drive into Arizona for the first time after he accepted an assistant coaching job at ASU, mocking the state's desolate landscape in the process. He joked about saying aloud "what the hell have I got myself into?" after gazing upon the team's stadium initially, claiming it was worse than most of the high school venues he was used to seeing in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Kush then touched on when he accepted the head coaching position after Dan Devine left Arizona State for Mizzou. And even though his beginning salary was a mere $9,000 dollars, he still called his time in Tempe as "one of the greatest highlights of his life."
One of the greatest highlights of the day though was when Coach Kush refused to sit in the custom-made, La-Z-Boy recliner they prepared for him, choosing instead to sit in the bleachers alongside the 18 players he once mentored.
When former ASU defensive back Darrell Hoover rose to speak, he informed the audience that as soon Kush saw the embroidered armchair, he quickly snapped "I'm not doing that." Hoover then quipped "that doesn't come as a surprise to any of his former players, does it?"
Sure, to some, that might have seemed like the behavior of a stubborn old man set in his ways. But to his players, it was just one last sign of unity and respect from the man who helped them grow into the individuals they are today.