TEMPE, AZ - Former Arizona State football coach Frank Kush has died. He was 88 years old.
Sources tell ABC15 that Kush died “peacefully” overnight at a Valley hospital.
Kush coached at ASU from 1955-79 and was the team's head coach from 1958-79. With a career record of 176-54-1, he is the team's all-time winningest coach. He had 19 winning seasons and won nine conference championships. The playing surface of Sun Devil Stadium was named Frank Kush Field in 1996.
Kush returned to ASU 21 years after his coaching career ended to serve as a special assistant to the athletic director and an ambassador for ASU athletics. In between, he coached the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League and the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts of the NFL. He was the head coach of the USFL's Arizona Outlaws in 1985.
Kush left a lasting impact with players he didn't even coach.
Rudy Carpenter, starting quarterback for the Sun Devils in 2005, talked almost weekly with the former coach.
"I always wanted him to tell me I could have played on one of his teams," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said his conversations with Kush were not necessarily about Xs and Os on the field, but rather about leadership and program history.
"It was more just how to be a quarterback; how to be a leader," he explained.
Before his coaching career began, Kush served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and coached the Fort Benning football team. He played college football at Michigan State under Dan Devine.
Devine brought Kush on as an assistant coach when Devine took the Arizona State head coaching job in 1955. Kush became head coach when Devine left to coach at Missouri.