Tom Arth Out at Akron: A Look at Potential Replacements

by Connor Jackson

Photo courtesy of Akron athletics

After just three seasons, Akron has parted ways with head coach Tom Arth.

Arth, a former starting quarterback at John Carroll University, sported a 3-24 record during his time at Akron. After a 31-25 loss to Ball State this past week, the Zips dropped to 2-7 and the decision was made to fire Arth.

Oscar Rodriguez will take over as the interim coach.

Once again, the search for Akron’s next head coach begins.

Examining the Job

The next head coach at Akron will only be the fourth since 2010.

Terry Bowden, now at Louisiana Monroe, gave the Zips some good seasons from 2012 to 2018. Bowden led Akron to two bowl games in three years from 2015 to 2017 — something that had not been done in Akron history.

Unfortunately, Arth could not replicate that success. He lasted less than half as long as Bowden at Akron.

Respectfully, Akron is considered one of the worst jobs in America. That’s mostly due to lack of facilities and support from the administration. For a program that has more all-time losses than wins, this should not be hard to believe.

Are there any strengths here? Despite the lack of competitive commitment, it gives a coach the chance to build a program from the ground up and do things that have never been accomplished in Akron’s history. Akron might not be able to offer much, or be able to hand out a lot of money. At least it has that to offer.

Coaching Candidates

Former Georgia Tech HC Paul Johnson

Johnson is retired and going on 65 years old, but the last time Akron took a chance on an older coach in Bowden, it worked out. Going out and getting an experienced guy who can better handle the struggles at Akron might be in its best interest.

At Georgia Southern, Navy, and Georgia Tech, Johnson compiled a 189-100 career record. Among those 189 wins is six conference championships and two FCS national championships.

He was able to form this success by running the triple option. That is a scheme that can be difficult to prepare for in just one week.

Akron is clearly operating at a talent deficiency. It will have to get creative if it wants to break recent trends and start winning football games. In that case, running the triple option could be the perfect place to start.

Getting Johnson to come out of retirement might be difficult, especially without a lot of money to throw around.

Mount Union HC Geoff Dartt

Mount Union is a small Division III school in Ohio, but it happens to be one of the best programs in the history of D-III football.

All-time, Mount Union has put up an outstanding 758-386 record, and has claimed 13 national championships. This is only Dartt’s second year leading the Purple Raiders, but he is doing nothing but winning and has a 13-0 record thus far.

Dartt spent seven years as an assistant at Mount Union prior to becoming the head coach, and helped lead one of the most prolific offenses at that level of college football.

The last coach at Mount Union, Vince Kehres, was named the defensive coordinator at Toledo following the 2019 season. Should Akron try and follow that path, Dartt could be a pretty good option.

Toledo DC Vince Kehres

Speaking of Kehres, why would we not include him here? After all, he is one of the most successful active coaches in Ohio.

Kehres was the head coach of Mount Union from 2013 to 2019. Over those seven seasons, Kehres put up a remarkable 95-6 record.

Taking a position at an FBS school shows one thing: Kehres is looking for a head coaching job. At just 45 years old, Kehres has won two national championships as a head coach and six conference titles.

When you combine his younger age, success, and connections to Ohio, there may be no more perfect person for the job than Kehres.

Pickerington Central HC Jay Sharrett

Winning at Akron is not easy. Therefore, it will take something different to do so. Reaching out to the high school ranks to find a coach might be an option.

Pickerington Central High School has been one of the premier high school football programs in the entire country, largely due to Jay Sharrett. Sharrett has led Pickerington Central since 2003, and has compiled a 200-37 record.

Going out and getting a state championship-winning coach would be huge. Getting one with connections to high school recruits in the state could be even bigger.

Pair those things together with the fact that this would be a money-friendly hire, one would have to at least be somewhat intrigued.

Miami Dolphins QB Coach Charlie Frye

Whenever a new job opens up, you have to consider some former alumni to come in and coach. It almost happened this last cycle with Boise State and Kellen Moore, so maybe it could be worth a try.

A former Akron quarterback, Frye was selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft after throwing for more than 11,000 yards in his college career. In the coaching ranks, Frye has slowly risen to the NFL level, coaching a quarterbacks room that includes Tua Tagovailoa. He also spent 2019 and 2020 as offensive coordinator at Central Michigan.

Outbidding the NFL for a coach does not seem like something Akron is built for. Still, his connections to Akron and the opportunity to lead a program could be enough to bring him back to town.

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