Longtime UC Davis coach Fred Arp passes away unexpectedly at age 73
Fred Arp, who as an athlete helped build the athletic foundation in the early years at Colfax High School and later as an award winning coach became synonymous with UC Davis football for over four decades, died unexpectedly at his home in rural Colfax on Wednesday at the age of 73.
A lifelong resident of the Colfax area, Arp was a fixture with the UC Davis Aggie football coaching staff for 40 years, serving as an assistant for four head coaches. He coached the defensive line for the majority of those four decades, while adding the title of assistant head coach during his final seasons.
“Fred was a genuine person,” said former UC Davis football coach Bob Biggs who was recruited by Arp out of Vacaville High in 1969. “He was one of those guys that you saw what you got and he did a great job with his players. It was more than just about coaching football with Fred.”
Arp’s career spanned the entirety of the program’s 37 consecutive winning seasons, 20 straight conference titles and 18 postseason appearances - arguably UC Davis football’s most notable feats.
In 2003, he was honored with an AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year Award and in 2010 entered the UC Davis Hall of Fame.
A 1962 graduate of Colfax High School, Arp was a standout three-sport athlete earning all-Skyline Conference football honors in 1961 and being named as the recipient of the Colfax Record Trophy as the school’s first most valuable football player. In 1997, Arp was inducted into the Colfax High School Hall of Fame, as a charter member.
In 2008, Arp was honored by the All-American Football Foundation at its 95th Banquet of Champions at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Arp was honored with the Campbell Award for the top assistant coach. He coached in more than half of UC Davis’ all-time games, and had players earn five All-America first-team awards, had three Academic All-America honors. He also had three of his players reach the NFL.
Arp,an avid Los Angeles Dodgers fan whose personalized car license plates read “Sack QBs”, retired from coaching football at UC Davis after the 2007 season coaching under Biggs.
"I think when everybody looks back at Fred's career, it's not going to be about 'x's' and 'o's. I don't think people are going to talk about Fred and how he made them a greater football player" said Biggs on the eve of Arp’s retirement.
"What they're going to talk about is Fred made them a greater person,” Biggs added. What makes him so unique is it's done so subtely. He's not a man of a lot of words. He's got great human instincts. He's got a quiet way of being able to talk to people and let people know what's the right way and wrong way of doing things.”
Even after his retirement, Arp remained with the program as an advisor, and became instrumental in scheduling high-profile opponents during UC Davis’ early ascension as an NCAA Division I member.
“There have been many legends responsible for the legacy of Aggie football, but none greater than Fred Arp, said current UC Davis head football coach Dan Hawkins in a UCD press release. A former athlete, and coach of over 40 years, Fred and his wife Jane have been life long contributors to Aggie Pride. We will miss Club Fred, the Shade Drill, and his presence at nearly every game in the last half century. We will continue to honor Coach Arp as we move forward with Aggie football.”
Arp’s contributions to UC Davis intercollegiate athletics were not limited to football, either. He and his wife of 51 years, Jane, have a long history of philanthropic support to the university, with the Arp Family Foundation providing gifts for such projects as Aggie Stadium and the ICA weight room. During the Aggie Auctions of the late 1990s and 2000s, Arp donated countless pieces of sports memorabilia from his own personal collection, in an effort to support the popular fund- and friend-raising event.
Arp is survived by his wife Jane and son Ben. Funeral services are pending.