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Column: With success comes opportunity; Brown is experiencing both

The Troy faithful received news  last week that head football coach Neal Brown had interviewed for the head coaching position at the University of Arizona.

Their minds were put at ease late Wednesday evening when reports started circulating saying that Brown told his players he plans to stay.

Former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was reportedly named head coach of Arizona over the weekend.

This wasn’t the first instance Trojan fans took a collective deep breath when they saw Brown’s name floating around in the news.

After the conclusion of the season, it was reported he could have been in the mix at Arkansas. Last season following Tommy Tubberville’s departure at Cincinnati, Brown name’s surfaced as a possible replacement.

Trojan fans may have to get used to it.

Former head coach Larry Blakeney coached the Trojans from 1991-2004 and arguably became the greatest coach in program history. He was an icon who led the Trojans from Division II to to the FCS level in 2001.

When Blakeney retired following the 2014 season, I believed he was part of dying breed within the Group of Five.
Frank Solich of Ohio being an obvious exception, its rare these days to see a successful head coach of a Group of Five school stay at the same spot for more than a few years.

It’s a double-edged sword for Troy fans, very similar to minor league baseball. Fans of minor league teams attend games knowing that their favorite player, with any success, may be gone the next day. That’s the business.

Although fans would hate to see their head coach leave the program, in the end it probably means he and the program has done something right. That is definitely the case with the young head coach.

Brown is one of the younger coaches in the country and has quickly garnered the reputation of being one of the best coaches within the Group of Five now that former Central Florida head coach Scott Frost has moved on to Nebraska.

In all likely hood, Brown one day will say goodbye to Trojan Nation.  If that day comes fans can look back at his first three years with the team and marvel at what he has built.

The Trojans had a 3-9 record in Blakeney’s last season at the helm. In Brown’s first year the Trojans improved their win total by one game by going 4-8. Since then, the Trojans have put together two of the greatest season’s in their FCS history by going a combined 21-5 and earning a share of the conference title this season. Brown has made Trojan football a Saturday destination again. Fans have been rejuvenated and Brown is a big reason why.

He is on campus talking with students and encouraging them to come to games. Not only have the students come to the games, they are staying; something that was not always the case. 

Off the field, Brown and the Trojans have been near the top in the conference in recruiting and that looks to be the same come part 2 of National Signing Day in February.

It’s more likely than not that coach Brown will one day join another program. Until that day comes lets sit back and enjoy the ride.