AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Former Canadian High School Wildcat quarterback Ben Arbuckle is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Washington State University Cougars.
Heading into his first season with the Cougars Coach Arbuckle was recognized as the youngest coordinator in a Power Five conference.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you and say, it wasn’t cool to kind of have that title or whatever. But at the end of the day, it didn’t change my perspective on anything. it didn’t make me feel anymore any less, like, special or anything like that. I just, you know, I was hired to do a job, and ultimately, I was going to try and do the job the best I could, and no matter how old I was, so, yeah, I mean, it was cool and everything, but definitely not something that I just, you know, wanted to be defined by.”
Arbuckle’s journey to become a Power Five coordinator was not ordinary, Ben explains his journey in a talk with KAMR Local 4 News Sports Director Clint Brakebill.
After high school Arbuckle decided to step away from football for two years before returning and playing for West Texas A&M University. Arbuckle said immaturity caused this hiatus stating, “In high school, I was on top of the world and you get to college and figure out you not the best player on your team anymore, I was just not mature enough at that age to handle that.”
He gives thanks to former West Texas A&M University Coach Mike Nesbitt, and Hunter Hughes for allowing him to come back and play when he felt that he gained the maturity he needed. In 2017, his junior year at WTAMU he threw for 1,241 yards and 15 touchdowns as the starter for the Buffaloes.
After college, Arbuckle explained that he always wanted to coach football hinting that coach Koettling was a big influence on his life, but was also interested in business. He graduated with an economics and finance degree, fascinated by how money works, so he tried a finance job for three months at an oil and gas company in Houston.
After realizing he hated crunching numbers in an office he found his way into coaching by taking an offensive quality control assistant position at Houston Baptist University without pay.
The two biggest things he stated he learned from coaching at HBU, include learning how to do a little bit of everything, and the importance of letting your players and staff that you genuinely love them.
He detailed that with little to no staff, he was responsible for the offensive scout team, offensive breakdowns, special teams breakdowns, and creating graphics for the social to help with recruiting. He also met his mentor Zach Kittley who provided Arbuckle with extended lunch breaks to allow him to make extra money to make ends meet.
From HBU he received a paid coaching opportunity at Seminole High School in 2020, getting an opportunity from a former Canadian coach. Arbuckle said he had a ton of fun being around those kids, he liked being able to adapt to the unexpected of coaching kids and feels it helped him out a ton.
In 2021, Arbuckle was hired by Zach Kittley as the quality control coach at Western Kentucky University and was later promoted to the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach by coach Tyson Helton. He said ultimately he learned how to lead young men as well as so much about the game and different ways to look at the game.
“The opportunity when Coach Kittley went to Texas Tech to become the offensive coordinator. forever indebted to coach Helton for that opportunity because he didn’t have to give that to a 26-year-old kid. And he did he trusted me and he let me run with it and make it my own.”
Arbuckle was presented with the Washington State University job opportunity during bowl week preparation with Western Kentucky University.
“I was at my bowl game for Western Kentucky. We played in the New Orleans Bowl, and the game was on a Wednesday, and WSU Head Coach Dicker called me on Monday, I was eating breakfast, eating my Cheerios there in the hotel and he called me and had a really good conversation. I asked him, coach, can we hold this off until Friday, I have a game on Wednesday and then I’m driving straight from New Orleans to Amarillo which is like a 15-hour drive. It was brutal. We had a Zoom call on Friday, I believe that was Dec. 24. He offered me the job later that day, and on Dec. 26, I accepted it.”
He details what his experience has been like as the WSU offensive coordinator this year, as the offense has been rolling.
“It’s just fun and it’s truly just been fun. I preach to our kids all the time about this game of football, you can make it so much harder than it needs to be at the end of the day football is a child’s game, and we get to go out there and play. Because we’re really lucky to be doing what we’re doing. There are a ton of people who had killed to be in our position and have the job that we do. So we better just make it fun. And that’s all it’s been as fun through the ups and downs of this season. I’ve had the time of my life with the staff and the players. In simple, it’s just been fun.
Arbuckle reflects on his relationship with his former Head Coach Koetting who he said is the most consistent person in every facet of life, he also detailed how much his family helps in his ongoing coaching journey, coaching Bailey Zappe and more.
Join Sports Director Clint Brakebill on Tuesday, Nov. 14 on KAMR Local 4 News at 10:00 p.m. to see his exclusive interview with Ben Arbuckle. They met up at a recent game in Arizona. See how the Canadian local is doing now during his first season leading the Cougars offense.