Rim Runners, Dogs Make Dash To Tempe

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A band of Rim Country weekend warriors -- possibly accompanied by their pets -- are expected to participate in the 14th annual Frank Kush 5K Family and Dog run when it is held Oct. 15 in downtown Tempe.

The annual event benefits the Arizona Humane Society and Arizona youth organizations through the Frank Kush Foundation.

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Legendary football coach Frank Kush once wore a Longhorn "Purple People Eater" football T-shirt to a speaking engagement.

The event features activities for participants of all ages and fitness levels and includes 3.1- and 1-mile runs and walks for entrants and their pet dogs. The 5K course begins near the historical Monti's La Casa Vieja restaurant, proceeds down Mill Avenue, through Papago Park and along Rural Road before ending at the original start line.

Prior to the race, Kush -- a former Arizona State University head football coach and college football hall of fame member -- will welcome the runners.

Kush is no stranger to the Rim Country. As the ASU head football coach in 1958, he spearheaded the move to turn a university-owned plot of land near Kohl's Ranch into Camp Tontozona.

In 1986, just as the Longhorn football team was preparing to play Snowflake for the state championship, Kush made a guest appearance at the team's banquet.

In 1990, he showed up at a Longhorn football practice and provided a few gridiron tips to the players. Later that evening, he attended a pregame meeting and was on the sidelines of a Payson vs. Parker game.

Kush is also an avid angler, enjoys frequent get-aways to Rim Country lakes and streams and usually visits the Rim Country during the Sun Devils annual preseason training camps at Camp Tontozona.

After earning All-American honors at Michigan State and serving a tour of duty in the Army, Kush came to Arizona State in 1955 as an assistant to Dan Devine. At age 29, he became head of the Sun Devils.

Over 22 seasons, he ran up a record of 176-54-1 and turned the Sun Devils into a consistent top-20-ranked team.

From 1970 to 1975 ASU, compiled a 62-9 record that included a 5-0 mark in bowl games. The highlight of his career might have been 1975 when the Sun Devils were 12-0, whipped Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl and were ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Kush is the 19th winningest Division 1 coach and compiled a better record than Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian and Pop Warner.

Kush also coached 30 All-Americans, and 129 of his players went on to play professionally.

After leaving Arizona State, Kush coached professionally with the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Outlaws and in Canada.

Currently, Kush is a special assistant to the ASU athletic director.

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