Marcus Aurelius once said, "He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe."
One could argue that the second-century Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher’s message directly applies to a certain young man from Aurora.
When it comes to Bubba Arslanian, the path to "eudaimonia" may be a bit easier to find than others.
Of course, that can change rather quickly. If you’ve made your acquaintance with the easy-going Arslanian, finding a silver lining in a dark cloud becomes second nature.
It certainly has been the case for his comrades on the University of Akron football team. Thanks mainly to the upbeat Arslanian, the Zips may consider an ancient Hellenistic teaching for the upcoming season.
"Virtue is the only good."
For at least one member of Akron’s coaching staff, such moral reasoning sounds extremely alluring.
"Bubba is an incredible kid," said Matt Feeney, who enters his second year as the Zips’ defensive coordinator. "He’s a pleasure to be around. He’s the type of kid who walks into a meeting with a big smile on his face. He always seems to brighten your day."
The 2017 Aurora graduate’s sunny disposition was a welcome sight in a season that had its fair share of dreariness.
The Zips, led by first-year head coach Tom Arth, did not win a single game in 2019. They also struggled mightily in the rugged Mid-American Conference, which sent seven of its esteemed colleagues to bowl games.
These brutal facts could force even the most delightful souls to rapidly descend into a hopeless abyss.
As for Arslanian, he may lean on other ancient Stoics such as Seneca or Epictetus when it comes to his favorite team’s lack of success.
Since "virtue is sufficient for happiness," the former three-sport Greenman standout has developed an impenetrable shield toward inevitable misfortune.
"It has been different going through a coaching change," Arslanian admitted. "They’ve brought in a different recruiting class with different-style guys. It’s unique, but it’s awesome. I love my teammates. The coaching staff has been very supportive."
It’s easy to be extremely cheerful when you see Arslanian walking around campus.
Just don’t let yourself get fooled into thinking the affable redshirt sophomore lacks a mean streak.
Getting clobbered by Arslanian is the equivalent of being bitten by a black mamba.
One might suffer puncture wounds, difficulty breathing, numbness in the limbs and of course, excruciating pain.
"I coach him really hard because he’s a special talent," Feeney said. "He is a really athletic kid. He’s a blue-collar guy who works really hard.
"I never have to tell him to speed up and work harder. He treats every single rep in practice like it’s a game rep. There are days when I have to tell him, ‘Woah’ instead of ‘Go.’"
This impressive "Go Go Gadget" bears no resemblance to a certain dimwitted cyborg police inspector.
In fact, Arslanian’s terrorizing pursuits to wreck opposing offenses could be considered downright criminal.
Despite being in the starting lineup just seven times, Arslanian came of age in 2019 with 125 total tackles, including four crushing hits that resulted in a loss of yardage. He also contributed two sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
This robust tackling machine was particularly menacing against his conference rivals.
Arslanian registered a career-high 19 tackles against Bowling Green, 15 punishing hits against Kent State and 12 bold takedowns against Miami.
Arslanian didn’t start against Illinois in the Zips’ 2019 season opener. He still finished with an impressive 11 tackles against the imposing Big Ten squad.
Arslanian got some national attention too. His 10.4 tackles per game ranked ninth among Division I schools.
"Last year, I got a feel for the game," Arslanian said. "I got comfortable being on the field. Against Illinois, I didn’t play every series. That’s when I got my feet wet."
His feet are quite drenched now. And that could be considered miraculous due to Arslanian’s miniature frame.
In a world that preaches the bigger-faster-stronger mentality, Arslanian is a bit of a dinosaur. He’s listed at a somewhat generous 5 feet, 9 inches tall and a modest 205 pounds.
How do such human body statistics compare to today’s standards?
Let’s just say Arslanian would practically be a dwarf if he stood next to Khalil Mack.
If you’re fascinated with measurements, the hulking Chicago Bears’ outside linebacker is listed at 6-3 and a bone-crushing 269 pounds.
"I didn’t have a lot of offers coming out of high school," Arslanian said. "Every time someone comes in, they’re always there to take your job. I have to prove to them that this is my spot and I want to keep my spot."
John Lako made it extremely difficult for Arslanian to "keep his spot" last year. Surprisingly, it was hardly a controversial decision by Akron’s coaching staff.
All Lako did was lead the Zips with 138 tackles and earn first-team All-MAC honors.
Lako, who is now seeking employment in the NFL, won’t be lurking when the Zips take the field later in the summer.
That means a certain tackling dynamo from Portage County can pencil his name into the starting lineup when Akron hosts Youngstown State in its 2020 season opener, right?
Not so fast, says a certain defensive guru who prefers results over rankings.
"Bubba battled all year to earn starting spots week by week," Feeney said. "He always found his way onto the field. I told the guys, ‘Every week is a job audition.’
"There was one game when he lost his starting spot. I ended up putting him back in during the second quarter. He has the most experience coming back. His starting spot is his to continue to hold."
If his job goes to someone else by September, it’s likely Arslanian will find a way to take it back in no time.
Either way, don’t expect the former Aurora football, baseball and wrestling standout to hang his head.
Much like an honorable king who became known for his virtuous philosophy, American author Rita Mae Brown may best describe Arslanian’s view of life.
Especially if he happens to find himself watching his teammates from the sidelines.
"One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory."
And what is the ultimate happiness that Arslanian seeks? A job where work is required one day per week sounds intriguing.
Particularly if it takes place on Sundays.
"My goal is to be first-team All-MAC and be at least in the top five in tackles," Arslanian said. "I also want to be a leader on the team. Ultimately, I want to get into the NFL."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAcet_Gannett.