Sunday | July 23, 2017
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Tough decision

LOS ANGELES — The story of the 2012 Indianapolis Colts could go from awesome to awkward in a flash.

Chuck Pagano is back as coach after nearly three months of treatments for his leukemia, and there’s scarcely a more inspiring sight in sports. His good friend, Bruce Arians, has dutifully stepped aside, having led the team on a wildly improbable march to the playoffs in Pagano’s absence.

But what happens this off-season, when head-coaching vacancies crop up all over the league?

Arians, 60, has waited his entire career to be a head coach, and he’s at an age where those opportunities are not plentiful. Rest assured, if and when teams come calling, he will listen — especially those franchises with good quarterbacks (read: San Diego).

The Colts, meanwhile, will move ahead with Pagano, and we don’t have a true read yet on what kind of head coach he will be. He was 1-2 when he was given his cancer diagnosis, and although he was a rallying figure throughout the last few months, he wasn’t the one leading the Colts to a 9-3 record over their last dozen games.

For the sake of argument, what if the Colts were to go 7-9 in 2013 under Pagano, while Arians went on to lead Cleveland to the playoffs?

The question would be unavoidable: Did the Colts keep the right guy?

On top of being hypothetical, the question is academic, because there’s no other way for the Colts to handle this than to keep Pagano, who deserves a chance, and to hope that Arians stays. But that’s where the awkwardness comes in.

Without question, Arians has proved he’s head-coaching material. There are no statistics that justify what the Colts have be