Frank Kush, who built ASU into a powerhouse, dies at 88

Arizona State logo

Kush went on to win 176 games - the most in school history - across 21.5 seasons and was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995. Lengyel was the inspiration for the film, "We Are Marshall", in which he is portrayed by actor Matthew McConaughy.

Frank Kush, a former Michigan State All-America guard and longtime football coach at Arizona State, died Thursday.

Arizona State tweeted out a tribute to Kush this afternoon. He came to Tempe in 1955 as an assistant under Dan Devine, and took the head coaching job in December 1957 when Devine left for Missouri.

Kush was sacked five games into the 1979 season after punter Kevin Rutledge said the coach had punched him during a game at Washington the previous season. The field at Sun Devil Stadium is named after him and a statue of Kush sits outside a stadium entrance.

A three-year letterwinner (1950-52) under Hall of Fame Coach Biggie Munn, Kush anchored MSU's defensive line during its undefeated National Championship season in 1952, earning first-team All-America honors as a senior by The Associated Press, Look Magazine, New York News, Fox Movietone, Athletic Publications and All-Catholic.

A university spokesman confirmed the death to the Arizona Republic, but other details were not immediately available. Although he was only 5-9, 180 pounds, Kush combined excellent quickness and sound technique, often disrupting plays before they even got started. His 1975 team was his finest, going 12-0 finishing second in the national rankings. That includes a 6-1 mark in bowl games, including four Fiesta Bowl victories in five years beginning in 1971. Months later, ASU fired athletic director Fred Miller amid a NCAA investigation into infractions violations under Kush, which ultimately resulted in a two-year probation and one-year postseason ban in 1981. He also coached in the Canadian Football League and the short-lived USFL.

He was head coach of the NFL's Colts for two years in Baltimore and one in Indianapolis from 1982 to 1984, compiling an 11-28-1 record.

The rise of Arizona State's football team coincided with the growing prominence of the university, which had fewer than 10,000 students when Mr. Kush became head coach in 1958. "Coach Kush, I miss you my friend".