“‘Giants on Your Shoulders’” — An Exclusive Interview with New Football Coach Austin Brown

Southern Oregon University Athletics. Photo Credit Bob Palermini, www.palermini.com

The 2021-22 school year brought along with it new beginnings and new opportunities for football coach Austin Brown. Brown joined the football coaching staff this June after being offered the Receiver/Recruiting Coordinator position. Before entering the world of coaching, Brown played football for three years at the University of Oklahoma, then moved closer to home senior of college and completed his degree at Dickinson State. Right after graduation, Brown moved into the coaching industry.

Before settling down here with the SOU Raider program, Brown held a position as a quarterback intern at the University of Colorado for about a year, then was a part of their recruiting department for a short period before accepting a position at Oregon State University (OSU) as a Graduate Assistant. Brown spent the last three and a half years there. Brown’s take on joining the SOU program was “I was eager to have my own room… I had heard great things about the staff and knew this was a place where I can continue to learn and grow.” One question the Siskiyou asked was about key lessons and what Brown had learned from those earlier experiences. Brown responded with, “don’t take your time for granted and be like a sponge. You never know when a guy is going to move on in this industry.”

This question brought the conversation to another important topic: the reason for coaching. When asked about what made him want to coach, Brown answered, “I’ve always loved football… I think back to my old high school coach and he was such a players’ coach. He could really reach out to the guys and get the most out of them, and I’ve kind of instilled that into me early on as a player.” For Brown, being a “players’ coach” allows for him to feel like he’s never working. Ultimately, he says, “I love what I’m doing.”

Brown, as the receivers coach and the recruiting coordinator has long, eventful days. Brown, on working at SOU, states, “you’re kind of grinding and working in all those hours, but you’re working around a lot of great people as well.” As the receivers’ coach, he is working with the athletes on the control of the receiver room. He works directly with coach Hall on the offense, passing game, and planning and preparation for opponents. As the recruiting coordinator, he oversees the recruiting trail and looks for students that are going to fill the needs of the team. He invites athletes for visits and filters through them to see which ones will diversify the program and will make the team better. Broken down, a day for the football program looks like this:

Waking up bright and early around five in the morning to be present for a meeting at six. After meetings, there’s then time for pre-practice drills. Usually, around the seven forty-five mark, the football team is doing a team stretch for a morning practice at eight. After the football players are done with practice, they head off to class while the coaching staff gets together for the next few hours to break down the practice film, run through what needs to be worked on (passing game, running game, base downs, 3rd downs, red zone), and analyzes film on the opponent. Once classes are done, the football team comes back for a meeting about practice earlier that day and the opponent. Afterward, some redshirt players and travel players go to the gym for an afternoon workout.

The Raider football team does not shy away from the grind or the hard work that comes with being a student-athlete, which brought up one of coach Brown’s goals for this program.

When asked about these future goals for the Raider football program, Brown was quick to answer. “To win a Conference Championship. You talk to other guys on the coaching staff and that is our number one goal… Ultimately, this is a place where we can win a National Championship… and as a coach, those are two goals I have up on my board.”

In addition, when asked to describe the season in one word, Brown gave, “Grind.” For Brown, some of his players are working jobs alongside all the responsibilities as a student-athlete. Brown’s thoughts on this season’s mentality were, “you gotta love it… if you don’t love this sport, it shows pretty quick.” Alongside the love of the game, is the honoring of the Raider traditions.

After arriving in June, the Raider traditions amazed Brown. He explained, “When I first got here, learning all the traditions this place has is unbelievable and phenomenal… all the guys talk about it as ‘the giants on your shoulders.’ It’s about all the guys that have played and coached before you and knowing you’ll carry on that legacy.”

Brown is helping to carry on the legacy through great coaching. With a relationship-focused coaching philosophy, he establishes trust between coach and student-athlete. With a relationship based on trust, Brown brought up, “when [the players] leave [SOU], life can be hard, and we want them to be ready for that.” Coaching is not always about drills and going to practice. It is also about preparing athletes for adversity in the real world, and through great coaching, the athletes can be prepared to handle hard situations that are thrown their way after college.

The last two questions of the interview came down to two advice questions:

The Siskiyou: What advice would you give to future coaches?

Austin Brown: Have the patience… everybody learns differently and figuring that out as fast as can helps… I really took the philosophy of acting like a sponge and soaking up as much information as you can, but the number one is patience.

The Siskiyou: And, what advice would you give to future Raiders looking up to the football program here at SOU?

Austin Brown: [SOU] is a great location… There is a lot of upsides to where we live and where we’re headed… we also have a great enrollment rate for an NAIA school. We also play in a great conference, to where if you take care of business every week you’ll set yourself up for competing in the playoffs and eventually an opportunity to play for a national championship. There is also a family atmosphere here… the true relationships [students] have with professors and community involvement in the whole program has been huge and has really stood out to me.

As the Raider football program moves forward with the rest of the season, the focus is to control the controllables and focus on the execution of each player’s abilities. The Raiders have four more regular-season games left on the schedule. The next game will be against Montana Tech, or as the Raider football program calls them, “the school from Butte,” this Saturday, October 23rd, at Raider Stadium at 1 PM.

And, of course, what would an interview be without a fun question along the way!

The Siskiyou: If you could be a superhero, which one would you be and why?

Austin Brown: I would probably be superman. He can kind of do it all.

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