When Fran Brown was announced as Temple’s new assistant football coach and co-defensive coordinator, it was fair to wonder whether he also would be the head coach in waiting.
That, according to a source familiar with the hiring process, is going a little bit too far, but there seems no doubt that Brown’s return is a significant hire for new coach Manny Diaz.
Brown, 35, spent his first four years as a college assistant at Temple under Matt Rhule, coaching the cornerbacks. Rhule had been an assistant coach when Brown played for Western Carolina, where he was a first-team all-conference selection at cornerback. The defensive coordinator on that Western Carolina team was Geoff Collins, now the Georgia Tech head coach after two seasons at Temple.
Before leaving Temple to join Rhule’s staff at Baylor, Brown received an offer from Collins to stay on the Owls staff. But Brown thought he needed to branch out and coach in a Power Five conference.
After a 1-11 first season, Baylor received a bowl bid with a 6-6 mark this year. Brown earned raves for his recruiting ability.
That he wanted to come back to Temple will no doubt help the Owls' recruiting, along with the development of the players. According to a few sources, Brown had several Power Five assistant-coaching offers before choosing to return to Temple. That in itself shows his passion for the school.
He has earned the reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country, but now Brown wants to show people that he is also a good coach. He interviewed for the Temple job that went to Diaz.
“It was exciting. It was helpful,” Brown said of the interview process. “I was very happy to go through it.”
Diaz had never talked to Brown before last week. Diaz said he became aware of Brown during the interview process for the head-coaching job.
“I understand he has an amazing background and great ties to this area,” Diaz said. “I wanted to run to that; I was drawn to that. This is a guy who can make Temple as good as Temple can be.”
Diaz just had one question. “I wondered if he would be interested in coming,” Diaz said.
There was no worry about that part of it. Brown is from the area, a former standout quarterback and defensive back at Camden High.
Leaving for Baylor was something he felt he needed to do to enhance his coaching resume.
“I wanted to be in another part of the country and Texas is one of the great states for high school football, and I got a chance to go down there, compete, and show it wasn’t that hard to compete [in recruiting],” Brown said.
Brown undoubtedly wanted the Temple head-coaching job badly, and according to multiple sources, he was impressive in the interviews. Yet the fact that he had never been a coordinator was seen as a detriment, something Brown indirectly acknowledges.
“I really have a good feeling that they picked the best guy for the job,” Brown said about Diaz. “I wanted to come work with Coach Diaz, and watching him throughout this time, what he does with the guys on defense, what he does with his defensive teams is great for me, to get a chance to work with a new coordinator and come work with him, one of the better defensive coordinators in the country.”
Brown already has lent a hand to the Temple recruiting efforts. On Tuesday evening, Eastern offensive lineman Jermaine Donaldson announced that he was withdrawing from his commitment to Temple. After a call from Brown, Donaldson changed his mind and was among the 17 recruits who signed with the Owls on Wednesday.
Brown’s message to Donaldson?