Bruce Arians technically never won a game in 2012, but the Associated Press saw fit to recognize him anyway.
Arians took over for Chuck Pagano after three weeks and piloted the Indianapolis Colts into the postseason, defying all odds and expectations.
For that, he was rewarded with the Coach of the Year award, despite the fact that all the victories he rang up technically get credited to Pagano.
Fittingly, Pagano finished second in the voting.
Arians grew as a coach as the season wore on, gradually learning to take more chances with his strategy.
As a result, the Colts ran off nine wins in 12 games under Arians.
Arians has since departed for Arizona, but his impact on the team will continue to be felt. Andrew Luck alluded to the fact that many of Arians' principles will be incorporated in the offense for years to come.
The AP honor was the second such award won by Arians this offseason. He also won the PFW/PFWA award for Coach of the Year. On my official ballot for that recognition, I split my vote between Arians and Pagano.
A split vote was the only way to recognize the unique collaboration between the two coaches. Pagano was intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of the team despite his illness. He stayed engaged with players through text and phone calls.
The stamp of his personality on the franchise and the power of his inspirational fight was the fuel that propelled the Colts to the postseason.
However, recognizing Arians was completely appropriate as well. Arians made it clear who the real coach of the Colts was and ensured there was no power struggle within the organization while Pagano was being treated for leukemia.
Now that Arians has left for his own head-coaching gig, Pagano could face unexpected pressure in 2013. He's an incredibly popular figure, but it won't be easy for the Colts to repeat their 11-win performance.
They'll be faced with a more challenging schedule in 2013, and the team could well improve dramatically on the field without replicating their incredible record in one-score games.
Should the team regress or stumble, Pagano will face hard questions from those who will attribute the 2012 success to Arians. There's no question that Pagano can teach and motivate. Whether or not he's a good in-game coach has yet to be determined. His performance in five games in 2012 isn't enough to judge him.
Arians, on the other hand, will always be fondly remembered in Indianapolis for his brief but unforgettable tenure at the helm of the Colts.
No matter what happens to him with the perennially downtrodden Cardinals, everyone knows the man can coach.
Now he has the plaques on his wall to prove it.
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