Canadian Football League

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Former Canadian Football League Player Gives Coaching a try

Forgive Dave Arnold if his boss, Erie Freeze coach and general manager Mike Esposito, is not yet his top coaching influence.Arnold, the new Erie Freeze assistant coach, played football for titans at the college and professional levels. Arnold, who officially joined Esposito's staff last week, was an All-American cornerback at Michigan and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1989.That meant he felt the fiery wrath of Bo Schembechler and the stern glare of Chuck Noll. Was his football fate worth it?You bet."I learned a lot from coach Schembechler," said Arnold, who will help Erie's defense in the pass-happy Atlantic Indoor Football League. "Coach Noll was a true disciplinarian, too. He didn't say much, but he didn't have to. He let his assistants like 'Mean'Joe Greene and (current Carolina Panthers coach) John Fox do that." Arnold gets his turn tonight, when the Freeze (4-1) host the Raleigh Rebels (1-2) at Tullio Arena. Game time is 7:05 p.m.Arnold spent three years in the NFL with the Steelers and Houston Oilers and three more with the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger Cats. He hopes the experience he gleaned from the upper echelon of pro football can help players with the Freeze and at Gannon, where he is in his second season as secondary coach.Arnold started his college coaching career at Central Connecticut State in 1999 before he was hired by Golden Knights coach Bill Elias. Esposito approached the Warren, Ohio, native about joining the Freeze over the winter, though both knew they'd have to wait for NCAA clearance to make it official."Dave's an outstanding addition and his ties to Gannon could be a great connection for us," Esposito said. "Coach Elias has had some great players over there. I'll go over there and bronze the 'G' at Gannon if we keep getting players like Darmel Whitfield and Eugene Padgett."Whitfield and Padgett, along with wide receiver Vince Austin, signed with the Freeze after their college careers ended last season. Padgett, a defensive back at Gannon, had the closest relationship with Arnold. "I thought we were going to be one year and done," Padgett said of his former and current coach. "Really, I appreciate that he's here because he's helped me a lot. He's been there, done that as far as the (professional) aspect of football."Which isn't to say Arnold will play favorites for those with Gannon backgrounds. "Actually," he said, "now I can be tougher on the (former Gannon) guys over here as far as discipline and getting on them. If they're not doing the little things, they're going to find out it's even harder. Not many mistakes can be made when you're a pro, especially here with the field being so small."Arnold isn't sure how long his tenure with the Freeze will last, but he hopes for more than just a cameo this summer. Along with learning indoor football's nuances from Esposito, he's also peppered Freeze co-owners Dave Hodas and Brian Fisher about the business aspect of the sport."I'm thankful coach Elias has let me do this," Arnold said. "He just wants me back to (Gannon's) training camp by early August. It's perfect because the AIFL season ends in July."July 30, to be exact. That's the date of the league's first championship game, less than a week before the Golden Knights start training camp. Arnold wouldn't mind such a short summer vacation.


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