UMass announced Don Brown will be taking over its football program again.
Brown last served as a head coach with then-FCS program UMass from 2004–08. After serving as defensive coordinator across the Power Five in recent years, he's heading back to Amherst to take on what is one of the most difficult jobs in the FBS.
Brown was successful in his first stint with the Minutemen and went 43–19, with two appearances in the FCS playoffs. In 2006, the team went 13–2, losing in the national championship game to Appalachian State.
The team made the jump to the FBS level in 2012 and has struggled. Charley Molnar went just 2–22 from 2012–13 when the team began its FBS tenure as a member of the MAC. Mark Whipple, who led the Minutemen as an FCS team from 1998–2003, returned to lead the program in 2014 and posted a 16–44 record in five seasons. Walt Bell, who was fired earlier this year, was 2–23 before being dismissed.
"I am honored to return to Amherst and lead the football program at the University of Massachusetts again," Brown said in UMass's announcement of the hire. "I promise to work tirelessly to make this program into something that our players, alumni and fans can be proud of. My focus will also be to develop our student-athletes so they can play at an elite level and achieve success, which requires building great relationships and having a tremendous work ethic. I can't wait to get back to the Commonwealth and get to work."
Brown made his own jump to the FBS level as defensive coordinator after leaving UMass the first time. He joined Ralph Friedgen's staff at Maryland in 2009 and was with the program until Friedgen was fired after the 2010 season.
He made his way back to New England, serving on staff at UConn and Boston College, before taking his most high-profile job yet in 2016, under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. He led some of college football's best defenses in Ann Arbor, before he was dismissed following a sharp downturn on that side of the ball in 2020.
Brown joined Jedd Fisch's first Arizona staff as defensive coordinator in 2021.
With the move, UMass is the fourth program to fill its head coaching vacancy before the end of the regular season, joining Georgia Southern (Clay Helton), UConn (Jim Mora Jr.) and Texas Tech (Joey McGuire). Jobs at major programs including LSU, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, and most recently Florida remain open.
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