Tom Arth listens to a question by the media on Tuesday inside the Stadium Club at Finley Stadium.

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Arth shows confidence in introduction by UTC


Tom Arth was fully aware of his 32 rating on the video game ESPN NFL 2K5 — the lowest rating of any player on the popular game.

"I'm not surprised," he said Tuesday. "That's probably pretty accurate. Our players at John Carroll used to mess with me about it as well, so it's always a fun conversation.

"I wish I was a little bit better. I might still be playing."

Arth, who was introduced Tuesday as the head football coach of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, spent three seasons in the NFL backing up Peyton Manning in Indianapolis (2003-05). He then spent the 2006 preseason on the Green Bay Packers' roster.

After bouncing around and playing in professional leagues for a couple of seasons, he decided it was time to get to work and chose to go back to his alma mater, John Carroll University, where he served in a variety of roles before moving up to head coach in 2012.

Arth was 40-8 in four seasons as the Blue Streaks' head coach, leading them to three NCAA Division III playoff appearances. He was this year's D-III national coach of the year after a 12-2 season that included a win over Mount Union, which had won 112 consecutive regular-season games prior to a 31-28 loss to Arth's team on Nov. 12.

That win gave John Carroll its first outright Ohio Athletic Conference championship since 1989 and first title since 1994, ending Mount Union's string of 24 in a row.

"We're grateful he's here. We're grateful he took the job," UTC vice chancellor and athletic director David Blackburn told the crowd. "Anybody he comes in contact with, you'll find out he's a leader with dignity, character, class, and he's going to lead our institution. He and his staff are going to focus on our student-athletes, how they attain success.

"He's going teach them what good looks like."

He was contacted by UTC on Thursday and interviewed over the weekend, blowing away the search committee to the point the group was convinced he was the right choice.

He maintained that confidence Tuesday throughout the news conference. His biggest struggle? The pronunciation of the word "Chattanooga."

"I've been trying to practice it," he said. "I didn't know I wasn't saying it properly until last night, so now I've been overly self-conscious about how I say it."

The initial reaction to his hiring from many fans was dislike, disappointment or confusion. Some thought UTC should have gone "for a bigger name," while others didn't know who he was because of his Division III background. Arth was able to change some people's minds Tuesday with a wealth of confidence behind a young-looking, 35-year-old smile, but he knows there's nothing else he'll be able to do until he assembles a staff, which he plans to finalize soon, and has a chance to get the Mocs on the field.

"It's outside of my control," Arth said of the perception. "People are going to judge and say what they say, but the only people that matter are the people in our building. It's our players, our coaches, our support staff, our administration. Our team will know I care about them, and I'll make sure they know I've got their back through everything and I'm always here for them. First and foremost it's important to build that trust, build those relationships.

"When they get the opportunity to see the way they're going to be coached, and understand the knowledge our staff will bring, they'll realize they're going to be a part of something special."

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.