UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — When Tom Arth joined the Indianapolis Colts in the early 2000s, he served as the backup quarterback to one of the greatest players to ever play the game of football: Peyton Manning.
“It was three years of just, of constantly learning and growing and getting better and, you know, finding ways to add value," explained Arth. “I’m very grateful because he gave me a lot of responsibility to, you know, watch film and to be, you know, another set of eyes for him.”
After his NFL career came to an end, Arth would eventually become a coach at his alma mater, John Carroll University.
“Once I got there, I knew I had made the right decision and the relationship with the players and the impact that I knew I was making on their lives and their football careers.”
After a successful run as the Blue Streaks Head Coach, he would leave for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and is now back home in Northeast Ohio as the head coach at the University of Akron.
He said it was tough to leave when he was offered the job in Tennessee a few years ago.
“One of the hardest, most emotional times of my life. I mean, it makes me emotional just thinking about it because that place just means everything to me. The people there mean everything to me. I would not be who I am if it wasn’t for John Carroll.”
Arth is one of many in a long list of John Carroll graduates to move on to high profile coaching and front office jobs. Recently, the Los Angeles Chargers hired former JCU assistant Brandon Staley, where fellow alumnus Tom Telesco is the general manager. The Houston Texans also pulled from the JCU tree by hiring Nick Caserio as general manager.
But the list also includes Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, and one of the greatest coaches in football history, Don Shula. The school's football stadium bears his name.
"This time of year has been sort of an annual tradition in recent years. Whether it’s an alum in the Super Bowl, coaching and the front office going for that ring, or musical chairs, moving on up in the coaching rank or the front office ranks,” said David Vitatoe, a former player and now the executive director of Alumni Relations for John Carroll. He believes JCU has succeeded at creating great leaders, such as Greg Debeljak, the Case Western Reserve University Head Football coach, who is considered the school's most successful coach in program history.
"I believe that there’s, there’s a culture of caring there, and there’s a sense of community that still exists to this day. That just, people care about each other and want to help,” said Debeljak.
He believes that networking has helped coaches get into the high profile positions in football, but also their ability to execute.
“It is about relationships, but if you can’t perform, you know, relationships kind of go out the door in the NFL, so all of these guys have succeeded at an unbelievable level. So, that is the part that I think is amazing.”
And as Arth works to make the Zips into a contender, his experiences at John Carroll, are ones he’ll never forget.
“Just watching them grow and you know, what they gave us, ... the commitment that they made, the way they worked and just, you know, just how important, you know, football was to them and the culture that we were building. It was just — it was one of those just incredible experiences that, ... I don’t know if i’ll ever have anything quite like that again.”
John Carroll has had success on the field in the NFL as well. Linebacker London Fletcher played 16 season in the league and is in consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.