After just 10 days, the Syracuse Orange have concluded their search for the football program’s 31st head coach. The man they’ve decided on brings a very impressive resume with him.
Fran Brown, a Camden, New Jersey native, will take his first Division 1 head coaching job with SU. 247Sports’ Matt Zenitz reported the news this afternoon, before Syracuse Athletics confirmed it with a press release at 5pm. He will be formally introduced on Monday.
“I am incredibly proud to be leading Syracuse Football at a university with a rich and storied tradition of academic and athletic excellence,” Brown said. “Syracuse Football has outstanding talent, great facilities and passionate alumni. The success of the players is my No. 1 priority—on and off the field. I want my guys to succeed in life, because they played football at Syracuse. My immediate area of focus is building relationships with my current players and putting together an elite staff, while also having fun on the recruiting trail. I’m ready to get to work and look forward to building something special for our fans.”
Football Scoop reported that Brown emerged after meeting with the five-person committee who interviewed candidates. It was also reported that Donovan McNabb, along with Syracuse administrators Herm Frazier and Torrey Ball (who played under Doug Marrone), were part of the committee vetting candidates.
Brown, 40, has been the Defensive Backs Coordinator for Georgia the past two seasons, helping to build and maintain one of the nation’s best defenses while also winning the 2022-23 National Championship. The Bulldogs are allowing less than 180 yards of passing per game this season in their attempt to three-peat, also riding a 29-game winning streak in the process.
“Fran is excellent,” Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart said. “No ego, he’s trustworthy, smart and he’s worked really hard during his two seasons here to earn an opportunity like this. He has built great relationships in our building, our players love him, and we couldn’t be more excited for him, Teara and their family.”
Before that, Brown was the secondary coach at Rutgers - working on the same staff as interim head coach Nunzio Campanile. He’s also held assistant positions on the Temple (2013-2016) and Baylor (2017-2018) defensive staffs.
Fran returned to Temple for one season in 2019 as the co-defensive coordinator. That defense which he helped coach produced five NFL talents - one of the best in school history.
Brown was a defensive back at FCS Western Carolina University from 2003-2006, closing things out with a First Team All-SoCon award as a team captain. He also briefly appeared with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2007 & 2008.
John Wildhack stressed hiring someone with connections to the northeast - and Brown checks that box easily. He recruited three 2020 draft picks from New Jersey: cornerback Harrison Hand (5th round) and linebackers Shaun Bradley (6th) and Chapelle Russell (7th).
Alijah Clark teased this announcement via a since-deleted Tweet - and it’s worth noting that not only do they share the same hometown, but Brown was the one who originally convinced Cinco to stay in Jersey with the Scarlet Knights. Based on the history, keeping that avenue into the Tri-State Area shouldn’t be difficult.
But while winning the regional recruiting battles are important, hitting the hotbeds of the DMV and the Southeast are even more so. Fortunately, Brown’s also had success in both.
Christian Braswell, a 2023 6th rounder, joined Brown at Rutgers in 2021. Nate Hairston and Tavon Young were Brown’s first big hits in Philly, and both were drafted by the Ravens a year apart (2016 & 2017). All three originated from in or near Washington D.C.
More recently, Fran has been killing it as one of the lead voices in Athens. He compiled the #8 individual recruiting class of 2023 according to 247Sports, and next year’s crop of Dawgs under his leash is the #1-rated group in the country. He was also the #25 recruiter in his last year at Rutgers, so this isn’t a completely new development.
“Fran is an outstanding coach, recruiter and person, and exactly who we need to take Syracuse Football to the next level,” Wildhack said. “Fran has clearly articulated a vision for the future of our football program, and he is a powerhouse recruiter with deep ties to the geographies from where we need to draw consistently. Fran has had tremendous success recruiting to a variety of programs—in the South, Southwest and Northeast, and I have no doubt he will bring that track record here to Syracuse. I am looking forward to welcoming Fran and his family to the Orange community. The future is bright for our football program.”
There will, of course, be questions. Brown has no experience calling plays - in theory, the OC will handle that duty to start. There’s no guarantee that he can replicate, even partially, the recent success he’s had on the recruiting trail of the south.
But it’s a far cry from blind loyalty.
With the whirlwind of speculation over Dan Mullen, then Bob Chesney, it is a relief to have our definitive answer. I for one am extremely excited to learn Brown’s vision for the Orange; let’s all hear him out on that much.
Welcome to Syracuse Fran!