Syracuse hired Fran Brown from Georgia’s coaching staff

Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown during Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown during Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

ATHENS — Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown has been tabbed as the new head coach at Syracuse, the school announced Tuesday afternoon. The official introduction will come Monday.

That means Brown should be able to remain with the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs through Saturday’s SEC Championship game against Alabama. However, what’s unknown at the moment is whether Brown would remain with Georgia through the College Football Playoff, should that be in the offing.

Typically, a newly hired head coach is allowed to stay with his current team if it is in pursuit of a national championship. That was the case two years ago when Dan Lanning was designated as Oregon’s head coach while the Bulldogs were getting ready to embark on their 2021 CFP run. Lanning juggled both jobs until Georgia defeated Alabama 33-18 to nab its first of two championships Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Coach Kirby Smart did the same thing after he was designated the Bulldogs’ head coach Dec. 6, 2015. Smart continued to serve as Alabama’s defensive coordinator through the Crimson Tide’s run to the national title while flying back and forth between Athens and Tuscaloosa and working the recruiting trail for Georgia.

Brown could be more expendable for the Bulldogs. The 40-year-old New Jersey native has proved to be an invaluable asset as a recruiter. But his day-to-day duties as a position coach and game-planner are less comprehensive. While his title is defensive backfield coach, he works specifically with the cornerbacks, while co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp typically oversees the safeties and the overall scheme for the secondary.

If Brown’s new job takes him off the recruiting trail for the Bulldogs, his day-to-day coaching responsibilities easily could be absorbed by Muschamp and other members of Georgia’s support staff.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs immediately will be vetting candidates, if they haven’t started already. There are several coaches within the SEC footprint who Smart could approach, including Alabama’s Travaris Robinson, Texas A&M’s T.J. Rushing and Auburn’s Zac Etheridge.

Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley had been included in some published reports as a potential candidate. However, the former Tennessee assistant coach was hit this summer with a two-year, show-cause penalty by the NCAA for his recruiting involvement with former Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt, which bars him from recruiting activities for that period of time.

One very intriguing candidate would be Houston’s Doug Belk. Though he already holds the titles of defensive coordinator and associate head coach with the Cougars, the lure of competing for championships and blue-chip prospects — not to mention money — at Georgia could prove compelling for Belk.

And there are connections between Belk and Smart. A Valdosta native, Belk served as a graduate assistant coach under Smart at Alabama from 2014-15.

If Brown leaves, the next defensive backs coach Georgia hires will be the fourth in that job during the past three years. Charlton Warren left after the 2020 season to become defensive coordinator at Indiana, his replacement Jahmile Addae left UGA to go to Miami after the 2021 season and Brown came from Rutgers before the 2022 season.

Brown was earning $750,000 a year at Georgia.

Smart does not begrudge his assistants leaving for better jobs. Three of his former assistants (Mel Tucker, Sam Pittman and Lanning) have landed head coaching positions in the past five years, so Brown would be the fourth. Defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann is considered the next hot coaching commodity on Georgia’s staff.

“Pick the right one,” Smart said of his advice to assistant coaches. “Be where your feet are. You have a good job. Do a good job at your job, and you will get more opportunities. A lot of jobs out there are not better than the one you’ve got.”

Smart turned down numerous coordinator and head coaching opportunities at Alabama before Georgia came calling in 2015. He is now 93-15 with two national championships and two SEC titles with the Bulldogs.

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