The Syracuse Orange officially welcomed in new head coach Fran Brown in an introductory press conference Monday morning, where the Camden, New Jersey native spoke to the media for the first time and detailed his plan to revitalize the program into a consistent contender.
Brown was joined by Chancellor Kent Syverud, Director of Athletics John Wildhack and a jam-packed auditorium full of Legends Society members, along with four rows of local and national media.
- Fran Brown receives a ‘44’ Jersey prior to being introduced as the head football coach of Syracuse University. Photo by Michael Ostrowski
- Head Coach Fran Brown addresses the media during his introductory press conference on Monday, December 4, 2023. Photo by Michael Ostrowski
- Brown listens to a question during his introductory press conference. Photo by Michael Ostrowski
- Brown and his family pose with Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud, Director of Athletics John Wildhack, and (of course) Otto. Photo by Michael Ostrowski
- Fran, his wife Teara, sons Fran Jr. (far left) and Brayden, and daughter Ivy Ann. Photo by Michael Ostrowski
Dom and I were among those who attended and are here to break down everything that Coach Brown said, what his expectations and promises are for SU, and how his personality will play a huge role in the trials to come.
A Change of Pace
We weren’t told to close our eyes this time - only to listen to the man talking in front of us.
Brown’s energy lit up the auditorium. It was a combination of confidence and humility. Optimism and realism. Old and new. And most importantly, it was all genuine.
Coach Fran has a desires to return Syracuse football back to its glory days by recapturing the tradition that made SU a premier program in the northeast for many years. But he didn’t sugarcoat the tall task ahead of him. He gets how trust is a two-way street.
When asked about the coaching staff he is assembling, he took pride in saying that Elijah Robinson was coming to be his defensive coordinator - even adding “we’re going to do everything we can to get three years out of him.”
Is Nunzio Campanelli sticking around for next season? He sure is - and he will finish off coaching the Boca Raton Bowl before transitioning to the role Brown has in mind.
Where will SU primarily be recruiting? In their wide backyard, from Canada to the DMV, while also not ignoring the national level when there is interest.
As for N.I.L., Fran said that at first, the money isn’t as important as the presence of football alumni around the program and at practices - show the current players you care on a personal level first, then the money will come. On every question, his answers were well thought out and full of passion.
“You’re going to get my heart,” Brown said. “You’re going to get every bit of me that you can get for the entire time I’m here.”
What a night and day difference that is compared to the past few years.
Making an Immediate Impact
Brown fit most of the checkmarks that Wildhack sought in the Orange’s next head coach: a great reputation as a recruiter, a Northeast background, and Power Five experience (most recently with the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs, no less). We’re already seeing proof that he is just as great off the field as on it.
It’s not just the recruiting style that’s quickly standing out, it’s the fact so many prominent prospects are suddenly announcing that Syracuse is a serious consideration for them.
Not a backup. Not a “thanks for the offer, but...”. A place where consensus 4-stars are scheduling official visits and putting it in their short lists.
The 24 hours after the presser have been even more hectic than the 48 or so that led up to it, because there is hype building around Syracuse football like there has not been since Paul Pasqualoni’s late-90s teams. And this may just be the beginning.
There is nothing Brown emphasized more than building relationships with people. Not just the athletes, but the young men, the students, as well. And that commitment sounds like a long-term one in the 315:
“Everybody comes up here and says ‘This is home. I’m never going nowhere.’ And then in three years they’re trying to get a new job or a new contract. Guys, I come from welfare. I’m good. I’m here for life. I promise you that. I’ve got my little girl. Until she turns 12, 13 years old - she’s two - that’s when I’m gonna step away and go take care of my daughter.”
Connecting The Orange Family
The words “family” and “community” were used a lot in Brown’s responses, but just how does he plan to implement those ideas?
Syracuse isn’t a wealthy town. Most of its citizens don’t have an abundance of disposable income. But as Brown said above, he grew up in that situation. It’s not something that he wants to see others in - nor will he let them.
I specifically asked Fran how he plans to rebuild fan support to the point of filling the Dome again, and he said his team will make it a point to do lots of community service, creating a link between the city and the private university that often sits separate from it, despite sharing its namesake.
In return, the fans that are financially able will come show their support for a cause they can believe in - one which supports growth off the turf too.
“Don’t ever allow your situation to dictate your outcome,” Brown said. “This is a neighborhood I can make a change in.”
Still Uncertain... yet Optimistic
There will be some questions that linger, no matter what Brown says. It comes down to what he does now, beginning with observing practices leading up to the bowl, then taking over fully after the New Year.
Until that point, he’s made it clear how a great team needs effort from everyone - fans included. And Brown is calling on Orange Nation to give the same level of commitment that he will ensure the players and staff will.
“I can promise you and assure you that what we’re going to do here is going to be big things,” Brown said. “But I’m going to need everybody to be involved and making sure to constantly support the show. Don’t tell me you’re a fan and then you are not really helping to be a fan. Don’t say you want a championship, but you give me 6-6 effort. We gotta make sure we put out what we’re supposed to put out.”
Welcome to the Fran Brown era of Syracuse Football!