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College Football Hall of Fame Coach Frank Kush Passes Away
Longtime Arizona State coach and NFF Chapter Leadership Award recipient was 88.
Published: 6/22/2017 1:42:00 PM

Former Arizona State head coach Frank Kush, a 1995 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, passed away June 22 in Phoenix. Also incredibly active with the NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter in Arizona, he claimed an NFF Chapter Leadership Award in 1992. Kush was 88.

An All-America defensive lineman for national champion Michigan State in 1952, Kush is a member of the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame.

After two years in the Army, where he rose to the rank of first lieutenant, Kush came to ASU as an assistant coach under Hall of Famer Dan Devine in 1955. He was promoted to coach when Devine left for Missouri, leading the Sun Devils football team from 1958-79 and winning a school-record 176 games. Kush was also part of the leadership that helped Arizona State gain university status in 1958.

He had a winning record in 19 of his 22 seasons, including undefeated teams in 1970 and 1975. The 1970 team beat North Carolina in the Peach Bowl, finished 11-0 and was ranked No. 6 nationally by the Associated Press. The 1975 team beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, finished 12-0, and was ranked No. 2 by both the AP and United Press International. Kush was named Coach of the Year in 1975 by the American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Foundation.

Kush’s teams won 16 Territorial Cup games against Arizona (including nine in a row from 1965-73), won nine conference championships and were 6-1 in bowl games. ASU moved from the Western Athletic Conference to the Pac-12 Conference during the Kush era.

Kush moved on to professional football, coaching Hamilton in the Canadian Football League in 1981, then the NFL’s Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts from 1982-84 and the USFL’s Arizona Outlaws in 1985.

After the USFL folded, Kush became director of the Arizona Boys Ranch, starting on a path that brought him back to ASU. The field at Sun Devil Stadium was named in his honor in 1996 during what turned into one of the more- famous games in school history, a 19-0 victory over two-time defending national champion Nebraska.

He devoted much of his post-coaching days to supporting the community as the longtime president of the NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter in Arizona. A 1992 NFF Chapter Leadership Award recipient, Kush had been serving the chapter as Honorary Chairman at the time of his passing. Awards given out annually by the Valley of the Sun Chapter include the Frank Kush Award (top senior offensive lineman), the Frank Kush “Lifetime Achievement” Coaching Award and the Fiesta Bowl Scholar Frances Kush Award (named in honor of his late wife).

In 2000 Kush was hired as a special assistant to the ASU athletic director. He remained a part of the athletic department in a Sun Devil Club development role for the rest of his life. A large bronze statue of Kush kneeling on a football was unveiled in 1997 at the south entrance to Sun Devil Stadium, a facility that opened in Kush’s first season as coach in 1958 and grew to seat more than 70,000.

Kush was inducted into the State of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

One of 15 children, Kush grew up in the coal-mining town of Windber, Pa. His wife, Frances, died at age 80 in 2010. The Kush family included three sons: Dan, David and Damian. Dan Kush was a kicker at ASU from 1973-76.

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