Ryan Tubongbanua / The Collegian
Bulldog defensive coordinator Dan Brown is doing more than just preparing for opposing offenses.
Heâ€™s facing a more fearful foe, a foe in the form of cancer.
Brown had a cancerous tumor removed from his brain in November of 2007. But despite the fact that he has been told by doctors that heâ€™s cancer-free, the coaching veteran has been told to not relax just yet, because there is the chance it could return.
Even though his desire is to not discuss his health to the media, Brownâ€™s defenders and coaches have been open about the life-threatening subject.
â€œItâ€™s been very tough. Not only is he one of my coaches; heâ€™s one of my best personal friends,â€ Coach Pat Hill said.
Junior safety Moses Harris was one of the players who didnâ€™t expect to hear bad news from the coach who has spent 12 years with the Bulldogs.
â€œWe took it as a shot,â€ Harris said. â€œWhen he told the team, we were like â€˜whoaâ€™.â€
Linebacker Ben Jacobs also felt the impact of Brownâ€™s life-threatening condition on and off the football field.
â€œIt hits hard when itâ€™s someone youâ€™re close to everyday,â€ Jacobs said. â€œIt really makes you stop and think.â€
Players inspired by coach’s fight
Even with the unfortunate circumstances involving Brown, Jacobs believes that the team is close group and is motivated by his presence.
â€œEveryone here is like family,â€ Jacobs said. â€œOn the field, heâ€™s making sure weâ€™re doing something right. Off the field, heâ€™s the guy you go talk to.â€
Jacobs, Harris and the rest of the Bulldog defense still push themselves on the practice field because of Brown, as he preaches hustle, toughness and doing things the right way.
Tough player turned tough coach
Brownâ€™s toughness dates back to his days as a linebacker in Southern California and at Boise State.
At Norco High, Brown earned all-league, county and C.I.F honors as a linebacker. His stellar play continued at Mount San Jacinto Community College where he earned all-conference honors.
Brown was on a member of the Division I-AA champion Boise State Broncos squad in 1980, where he was a two-year letterman with the former Big Sky Conference powerhouse and played on teams that produced a combined 20-4 record in the 1979-1980 seasons.
Even though Brown was a valuable player, it is through coaching that he has made his most significant impact in his sport.
Brown has turned the Bulldogs into one of the conferenceâ€™s top defensive units in two of the past four seasons, becoming the leaders in both scoring and total defense.
He has produced a 2007 WAC Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Riley and has also coached the likes of Tyrone Culver, Marcus McCauley, Richard Marshall and James Sanders, all of whom are now on NFL rosters.
Cancer doesn’t dim determination
But Dan Brown is doing more than just game-planning for upcoming opponents and motivating his players to out-perform the opposition, he has also taught them and his fellow coachesâ€™ important life lessons.
â€œHeâ€™s focused on not only fighting his cancer, but doing as much as he can in helping this football program,â€ Hill said. â€œI think heâ€™s doing really well.â€
â€œHe told us to not let any challenges hold you back,â€ Harris said. â€œHeâ€™s persevered through lifeâ€™s challenges.â€