Syracuse introduces Fran Brown as new football coach

SU introduces Brown as new football coach

The former Georgia defensive assistant spoke candidly at his wide-ranging first press conference on Monday.

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New Syracuse football head coach Fran Brown addresses the media alongside athletic director John Wildhack on Monday.

On Monday morning, Syracuse formally introduced new football head coach Fran Brown in a ceremony that included remarks from university chancellor Kent Syverud and athletic director John Wildhack.

The new head coach pledged to make the program a national contender and said that he would be at Syracuse “for life.”

Brown was presented with a No. 44 jersey, the program’s most significant number. The tradition wasn’t lost on the new coach, who referenced Jim Brown when talking about seeing the name on the back of the jersey.

The new head coach spoke about his vision for the program, staff appointments and his desire to return Syracuse to the success it attained under former head coach Paul Pasqualoni.

The university announced Brown’s hiring on Nov. 28. The new head coach arrived in Syracuse on Sunday, one day after the University of Georgia — where Brown had served as the defensive backs coach — lost in the SEC Championship game. Brown said he will not return to Georgia to coach in the Orange Bowl.

“I’m the head coach at Syracuse,” Brown said. “I won’t go back (to Georgia). I’m here to support my guys.”

Brown said he will watch Syracuse practice as it prepares for the Boca Raton Bowl against the University of South Florida on Dec. 21. He confirmed that Nunzio Campanile — who was appointed as interim head coach after the university fired Dino Babers — will remain on staff.

On the defensive side of the ball, Brown confirmed that he is bringing in Elijah Robinson as the new defensive coordinator. Robinson previously coached the defensive line at Texas A&M and spent time with Brown at Temple and Baylor. Both men hail from Camden, NJ.

Like Brown, Robinson is a very well-regarded recruiter.

Brown fielded several questions about recruiting, one of the aspects that helped him land the job. 

“I don’t really have a recruiting pitch,” Brown said. “I just ask ‘Do you want to become successful? Do you want to become a man? Do you want to be a good father? Do you want to be a good husband?’”

He said he will be hitting the recruiting trail as early as Monday night.

“I’m full-go Syracuse,” Brown said.

Name, image and likeness was another point of discussion, with Brown saying that every player is a different case but that he is “ready for NIL and ready to compete.” The new coach will focus on compensation for players on the current roster before turning the focus to recruits.

Brown mentioned Pasqualoni and former Syracuse offensive coordinator George DeLeone several times. The first college football game Brown attended was a Syracuse-Wisconsin matchup at the Meadowlands in 1997 — when he was in the ninth grade.

While the Orange were a regional power while Brown went through high school, he formed a relationship with DeLeone in the coaching ranks.

The pair coached together from 2016-2018, first at Temple, then at Baylor.

“George DeLeone pulled me in one day,” Brown said. “He said, ‘Listen, you’re too good, you need to work with other staffs, you need to get better schematically, keep busting your butt doing this, you’re gonna go places in your career. Now, go.’ He said it about three times. It changed my career.”

Geographically, Brown wants to control recruiting in the Northeast — from Canada to the Washington D.C. area, something the football program was able to do under coaches like Pasqualoni and Dick MacPherson.

Brown envisions a physical team in practice and on game days.

“We are going to run the ball, we are going to play good defense, we’re gonna stop the run, we are going to hit,” Brown said. “And everyone is going to ask ‘what offense are you going to run?’ Whatever they can’t stop.”

Wildhack and Brown had two lengthy conversations leading up to the hiring. The second exchange between the two came on Thanksgiving and lasted for 90 minutes.

“We talked like men,” Brown said.

One of Wildhack’s requirements for the position had been for the candidate to have either head coaching or coordinating experience at the Power Five level, something Brown lacked.

For Brown, the lack of coordinating experience was a choice.

“I can’t touch the entire team from one side of the ball as the defensive coordinator,” Brown said. “I’ve never just recruited corners…every position there is, I have one of those guys in the NFL.”

There was no shortage of familiar faces in the crowd, with former Syracuse men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim and current men’s basketball head coach Adrian Autry headlining a guest list that also included Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon and Syracuse mayor Ben Walsh.

Brown has already had contact with sophomore running back LeQuint Allen and will use the extra practices leading up to SU’s bowl game to evaluate the rest of the roster and the staff.