Now into his 31st season as a collegiate head coach, and incredibly his 43rd year overall in college coaching, Watson Brown could easily spend time recounting his personal milestones. He doesn't. Instead, the veteran is, quite simply, out to lead Tennessee Tech to its second Ohio Valley Conference championship under his direction. He is in his ninth season at the Tech helm.
After guiding Tech to a share of the 2011 OVC title, the school's first in 36 years, Brown is determined that the wait for the next crown isn't nearly as lengthy.
Brown has also kept a keen eye focused on success in the classroom. His team has been honored each of the past two years by the Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Director’s Association (FCS ADA) for having the highest APR in the OVC.
The team has also consistently improved its overall combined team GPA, posting the two highest semester totals during the three past years.
Born and raised in Cookeville, Watson Brown came back home to take the helm of the Golden Eagle program for the 2007 season. Five years later, he led Tech to its first OVC title in 36 years. The veteran coach uses an even-tempered approach to teach his young staff and players, and to earn their respect while enforcing a high level of discipline.
Brown was named in December 2006 as the 10th head football coach in Tennessee Tech University history. He previously coached at two schools that are members of the Ohio Valley Conference, serving as head coach at Austin Peay for two years and assistant coach at Jacksonville State, then a Division II program, for two years.
Those were two of the stops along a coaching trail that has visited campuses across the country. Following his role at Austin Peay, he has also served as head coach at the University of Cincinnati, Rice University, Vanderbilt and UAB. He was an offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and the University of Oklahoma, and served as an assistant coach at East Carolina and Texas Tech.
Brown returned to the town where he was a talented baseball, football and basketball player at Cookeville High School. He signed with Vanderbilt out of high school and was a standout quarterback for the Commodores from 1969-72. He is best remembered by many Commodore fans for leading Vandy to a 14-10 victory over Alabama in 1969. Brown was named the Sports Illustrated National Back of the Week for his efforts.
In his stint as TTU head coach, Brown has worked hard in his effort toward rebuilding the Golden Eagles into Ohio Valley Conference champions and has had the support of the community and the Upper Cumberland Region. A popular speaker, Brown has addressed numerous clubs and organizations throughout the region during his time at Tech.
Brown is known as one of the most inovative offensive minds in football.
He made his head coaching debut in 1979 in the Ohio Valley Conference directing the Austin Peay Governors, and at age 29, he was one of the youngest head coaches in the nation.
While serving as offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt for two seasons (1981-82), Brown’s offense set 57 school records and the Commodores posted an 8-3 record and made a Hall of Fame Bowl appearance (1982).
In 1983, Brown was head coach at Cincinnati, where he led the Bearcats to a season-opening 14-3 victory at defending national champion Penn State. He ranks that road victory as one of the most memorable in his long coaching career.
Before coaching at Vanderbilt, Brown was athletic director and head football coach at Rice (1984-85). He led the Owls to two of their best offensive seasons.
From 1986-90, Brown was the head coach at Vanderbilt, his alma mater. In 1991 and 1992, Brown was the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State under head coach Jackie Sherrill. During those two seasons, the Bulldogs posted a 14-10 record, made two bowl appearances and upset three nationally-ranked opponents.
Prior to going to UAB, Brown was the offensive coordinator at the University of Oklahoma (1993-94).
Coaching is a big part of Brown’s family. His brother Mack Brown was the head coach, most recently at Texas, and won a national championship with the Longhorns. His grandfather, Eddie “Jelly” Watson, was a legendary prep football coach, compiling a 106-51-13 record at Cookeville High School.
Brown’s brother Mel resides in Cookeville. Watson Brown is married to the former Brenda Arnold, and they have two children; daughter Ginny, who was a four-year letterwinner at Georgia State University (1996-00), and a son Steven, who was a wide receiver/quarterback for the Golden Eagles in 2007 and is currently a member of his father’s coaching staff. After filling a role as a graduate assistant coach in 2008, Steven is now an assistant coach and the team’s offensive coordinator.
Watson Brown is Tech’s 10th head football coach since 1922, joining the ranks of Loyall Duck, Putty Overall, Hooper Eblen, Star Wood, Wilburn Tucker, Don Wade, Gary Darnell, Jim Ragland and Mike Hennigan.
Brown’s many achievements as a student-athlete and later as a coach in the state of Tennessee have not gone unnoticed. Seven years ago he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2010, the National Football Foundation recognized Watson by selecting him as the recipient of the Roy Kramer Contribution to Football Award.