Information from the Arizona media relations department contributed to this report:
Arizona coach Jedd Fisch on Thursday morning announced the hiring of legendary defensive mind Don Brown as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator.
Brown, long known for his aggressive and blitz-heavy attacks, has earned the nickname “Dr. Blitz”. Widely considered one of the top defensive coaches in college football, Brown joins Arizona after five successful seasons leading the Michigan Wolverines defense.
“Today is a huge day for Arizona Football as we have the opportunity to welcome Dr. Blitz to our football program,” Fisch said. “Don Brown has coordinated the most elite defenses in all of college football, year in and year out, and today Wildcat Nation, we get to introduce him to you as our new defensive coordinator.
“I have known Don since 2016 when we worked together but have respected and admired him as a coach for many years prior. He is incredibly passionate and a phenomenal teacher. He brings an energy and enthusiasm to play an attacking style of defense, one in which all former and current players, football alumni and our fan base will be proud of and genuinely excited to watch on Saturdays in the Fall. The Wildcat Football Family is so excited to welcome Don and Deb Brown to Tucson.”
Brown, who brings nearly 45 years of coaching experience to Tucson, was a five-time nominee and a 2016 finalist for the Broyles Award that is annually awarded to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Over the last decade, 29 defensive players who played under Brown have been selected in the NFL Draft. After orchestrating a miraculous turnaround of the Boston College defense over the course of three seasons, Brown was tabbed as the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2015.
“I am honored to be a part of Coach Fisch’s staff at the University of Arizona,” Brown said. “I promise to work tirelessly to make our defense 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 dedication, a tremendous work ethic and building great relationships. I can’t wait to get to Tucson and be a part of the program Coach Fisch is building.”
Under Brown’s guidance, the Michigan defense finished among the top 12 units in the nation in total defense four straight years from 2016-19, including a trio of top three performances and a No. 1 ranking in 2016. During that same four-year stretch from 2016-19 the Wolverines defense led the country in pass defense twice (2016, 2017) and combined to make 16 top 25 appearances in total defense, scoring defense, rush defense, and pass defense.
During his tenure in Ann Arbor, Brown coached players who earned 49 All-Big Ten recognitions, including 43-of-44 starters who earned all-conference honors across his first four seasons and 10 players that picked up 14 first team nods.
Before Michigan, Brown spent time as the defensive coordinator at Boston College (2013-15), UConn (2011-12), and Maryland (2009-10). Boston College’s remarkable defensive ascent under Brown powered the team to two bowl games in three years, including a 2013 matchup with Arizona in the Advocare v100 Bowl.
Arizona beat Boston College 42-13 while racking up 529 yards in total offense behind quarterback B.J. Denker and running back Ka’Deem Carey. Boston College finished No. 93 nationally in total defense (428.2 yards allowed per game) that year in Brown’s first season. In his last with the Eagles in 2015, they ranked No. 1 allowing only 254.3 yards a game.
Brown took a Boston College defense that ranked No. 92 in total defense the year prior to his arrival and led them to two top 12 finishes in 2014 and 2015, highlighted by a 2015 squad that led the nation in total defense allowing just 254.3 yards per game.
Brown’s experience extends well beyond defensive savvy – during three stints as a head coach at Massachusetts (2004-08), Northeastern (2000-03), and Plymouth State (1993-95), he led his teams to an impressive record of 94-45. Brown led those programs to a combined five conference championships and six playoff appearances. At Massachusetts, Brown led the Minutemen to a 43-19 record in what was the winningest five-year stretch in program history.
In addition to his success on the gridiron, Brown also took over as the interim head baseball coach at Yale in 1992, where he led the team to a 26-10 record and an NCAA Tournament bid.
Prior to entering the coaching world, Brown played four years of running back at Norwich University, while also lettering twice in basketball. Brown ultimately earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education upon graduation from Norwich in 1977.
Brown and his wife Deborah are the proud parents of four children and are grandparents to 10 grandchildren.
DON BROWN COACHING HISTORY
Arizona – Defensive Coordinator (2021-current)
Michigan – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (2016-20)
Boston College – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (2013-15)
Connecticut – Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks (2011-12)
Maryland – Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks (2009-10)
Massachusetts – Head Coach (2004-08)
Northeastern – Head Coach (2000-03)
Massachusetts – Defensive Coordinator (1998-99)
Brown – Defensive Coordinator (1996-97)
Plymouth State – Head Coach (1993-95)
Yale – Defensive Coordinator (1987-92)
Dartmouth – Defensive Coordinator (1984-86)
Mansfield University – Defensive Coordinator (1983)
Dartmouth – Assistant Coach (1982)
Hartford High School – Assistant Coach (1977-82)
DON BROWN AWARDS & HONORS
2019: Broyles Award nominee
2018: Broyles Award nominee
2017: Broyles Award nominee
2016: Broyles Award finalist
2015: Broyles Award nominee
2015: AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year
2014: Broyles Award nominee
2013: Broyles Award nominee
2006: AFCE Region I Coach of the Year
2006: Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
2006: New England Football Coach of the Year
2002: New England Football Coach of the Year
2002: Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
1995: AFCA District I Coach of the Year
1994: AFCA District I Coach of the Year
1993: AFCA District I Coach of the Year
FOLLOW TROY HUTCHISON ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.