Canadian graduate Ben Arbuckle has been named co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and play caller at Division I Western Kentucky University. [Provided photo]
Ben Arbuckle has come a tremendous way in the coaching world since his days as the Canadian Wildcats pass-happy quarterback.
The 2014 Canadian High School graduate is on a rare fast track on the college football scene as he moves up the ranks at a frantic pace.
At just 26-years old, Arbuckle, was recently named co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and play caller heading into his second season at Division I Western Kentucky University.
That makes Arbuckle one of the youngest coordinators in all of Division I (FBS).
“I didn’t think I’d get a job like this so quickly,” Arbuckle said. “This is a position you want to be in when you get in this profession. But I didn’t think this would happen so fast. I think that speaks to the trust Western Kentucky head coach Tyson Helton has in me, and the trust former offensive coordinator Zach Kittley has in me as well. I’m very thankful coach Helton trusted me enough and put this responsibly on me.”
Arbuckle just completed his first season as a offensive quality control/ assistant quarterback coach for WKU in the fall.
Prior to his time at as a Hilltopper, Arbuckle, played quarterback at West Texas A&M in 2016-2017. After graduating from West Texas A&M, he wasn’t sure coaching was for him. Following college, Arbuckle worked a brief stint at an oil and gas company in Houston. Thanks to former WT teammate, Ethan Morris, who’s now a quality control coach at Utah State, Morris led Arbuckle to a volunteer coaching position at Houston Baptist.
“I emailed offensive coordinator at HBU, Zach Kittley, when Ethan found me that job,” Arbuckle said. “Kittley called me, we talked, and the job was mine. I was so lucky just to get on, and that’s when I started learning under who I consider the best offensive mind in Zach Kittley.”
Arbuckle spent two and a half years at HBU before spending six months at Seminole High School as the co-offensive coordinator/ quarterbacks coach. Realizing the high school route wasn’t for him, Arbuckle reached back out to Kittley and followed him to WKU, after Kittley took the offensive coordinator job at WKU in the winter of 2021.
Ben Arbuckle, and former Western Kentucky offensive coordinator, Zach Kittley, look over Hilltopper practice before the Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl in December. [Photo by WKU athletics]
From there, the rest is history when it comes to Arbuckle’s close relationship to his mentor, Kittley.
“Coach Kittley means the world to me and it goes far more than football,” Arbuckle said. “A lot of people don’t know what that guy has really done for me. He’s taken care of my wife, Lauren, and I so well. He’s never expected anything in return. He’s just a genuine a person as you’re going to find. He’s an unbelievable ball coach because of his character. It’s how he conducts himself every single day that makes him excellent in everything that he does. He’s one of my best friends and is family to me.”
Kittley feels the same way about his protege.
“Ben has progressed so much,” Kittley said. “He grew up with a great football background. You see him getting more comfortable everyday. He took charge of our quarterback room.
“This tremendous opportunity speaks to Ben and how hard he works. He’s now the youngest OC in country, and the continuity with coach Helton is huge. It’s rare he got this job so young, but he paid his dues and he’s ready to go.”
Kittley recently left WKU to take over as the new offensive coordinator for new head football coach, Joey McGuire, at Texas Tech. Kittley leaves Arbuckle with one of the best offenses in the country after last season, however, Arbuckle knows this job nor his career is where it is today without Kittley, and without Arbuckle’s passion to his craft.
“Coach Kittley is the best in the business right now,” Arbuckle said. “It shows with his work at Houston Baptist, and what he did at Western Kentucky. He made WKU the best offense in the country this past year. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned just watching him everyday. The way he watches film and can see a defense, and game-plan against them is incredible.
“As for me, I feel confident. I’ve put in the work, and now I have the opportunity to progress. Now I want to turn the cranks and work even harder. I’m thankful for the spot I have now and my goal is to not let the team down. My goal is to put this team in the best position to win games, and teach these young guys how to be successful on and off the field. It’s about them. It’s not about us.”
As close as Arbuckle is to Kittley, he’s equally close to his high school mentor and Canadian head football coach, Chris Koetting. Arbuckle and Koetting still talk weekly, whether it’s just catching up, or talking football. The two’s bond will never be broken as the two hold a certain level of respect for one another.
“It really doesn’t surprise me one bit that Ben is where he is,” Koetting said. “I think Ben is very smart. I don’t know if I’ve coached someone who loved football like he does. He was the funnest guy I coached. He was always loose wanted to have fun. He knew our offense so well, and this is what he always wanted. He got in with some really good coaches and coach Kittley, and coach Helton have been real helpful. He’s 26 and leading an offense at the college level. That’s incredible. I have no doubt he’ll be great. I’m so proud of him and the best is yet to come for him.”
Arbuckle echoed Koetting’s comment.
“I talk to coach Koetting at least once a week,” Arbuckle said. “A lot of the time we just talk about random things. It’s not even about football. He’s always going to be my coach, he’s always going to be a mentor, but he’s a friend to me more than anything. He’s someone I can always rely on. It’s so much fun to talk to him what he has going on, what his team is like, and he loves to hear about our team. He’ll always mean the world to me.”