Thank you, Watson Brown

by Kory Riemensperger

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Watson Brown prepares to take the field with his players at the Auburn University game in 2007.


After nine years on the sidelines of Overall Field, Tech’s head football coach Watson Brown retired.

In 43 years coaching college football, Brown mentored more than 3,000 student-athletes. Some of those men played football after college. Others became coaches themselves.

“There are so many people to thank,” Brown said when announcing his retirement. “The players, the coaches, the families. There are a lot of special people through the years. I cherish all of them and want to say a special ‘thank you’ to all of those people.”

The memories and stories go both ways. Several of his former players shared memories of coach Brown with Visions.

Nick Campbell, ’11 exercise science, remembers Brown as a true player’s coach. When Campbell, now the boys’ basketball coach at Lawrence County High School, brought his young athletes to play White County, Brown offered to speak to them.

“He always had a great relationship with his athletes,” said Campbell, who was the punter from 2008–2011. “He taught us to keep calm under pressure and represent our school with respect.”

Justin Hilliard, ’10 business management, ’11 MBA, described Brown as tough on the field, but a father figure off it.

“He was strict when it came to football,” said the 2007–2010 noseguard. “It was pretty common to run the same play in practice until we had it perfect.

“One practice, we messed up play after play after play and absolutely nothing seemed to go right. Coach blew the whistle and had us go back into the locker room, change and wait in the parking lot. After waiting a while, the coaching staff had us come inside and get ready for practice again. We acted like that start to practice never happened.”

Thomas Cox played quarterback under Brown at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and coached with him at Tech from 2007–2012. Cox said coaching is all about getting the most out of people. He shared an unexpected start to his first college football game:

“During practice the starting quarterback twisted his ankle. The medical staff looked at him, and I was told he’d be fine to play that weekend. When we were warming up for the game, they told me last minute I’d be the starting quarterback against #16 East Carolina.

“They had known the ankle was bad and kept it from me. At the time, I thought, ‘Alright. Let’s do it. Let’s go.’ I knew I had teammates depending on me. I realize now I would have done the same thing as a coach. It’s their way of taking the pressure off a player. Can you imagine what that pressure would have done to a 19-year-old kid?”

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