Back on his hometown team

Greg Brown is new defensive coordinator

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Greg Brown is back in Boulder.

After spending last year as a co-defensive coordinator on
Mike Stoops’ Arizona coaching staff, Brown decided to return to his home
state for his third stint with the Colorado Buffaloes.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Mike Stoops gave me
down at U of A,” says Brown. “It was a tremendous situation, a great
learning experience, and I enjoyed my time there, but I’m a Buff. I’m
moving on as a Buff and excited to be a Buff.”

Head Coach Jon Embree gave Brown more responsibility than
he has seen before at CU, naming Brown to the defensive coordinator
position. Brown will also oversee the defensive secondary, a position he
is quite used to because he spent seven years in that job, first from
1991 to 1993, then from 2006 to 2009. Brown says he feels like he has an
advantage, because he spent last season in the Pac-10, facing many of
the teams CU will play this season.

“It’s a huge, huge benefit,” says Brown. “It’s a huge help
to be in the Pac-10 one year before it became the Pac-12. It’s a great
league. There are so many things I was able to see there offensively
from teams. They’re so innovative.”

For Brown, the return to Boulder wasn’t just about
football. His family lives in Colorado, including his father Irv, who is
a Denver sports radio personality and former CU baseball coach, as well
as a former assistant football coach.

“It was easy in one regard, because I’m
from here,” says Brown. “My mom and dad live here, and I have the chance
to get my children around their grandparents. I’d had the good fortune
of working with Jon Embree back in the early ’90s, when we were both
assistants under Bill McCartney, so I know what Jon was going to bring
to the table, and I really wanted to be a part of that.”

Brown faces the challenge of replacing cornerback Jimmy
Smith and safety Jalil Brown, who were both selected in the NFL draft,
Smith in the first round.

“That’s going to be a long process,” says Brown. “There’s
nobody on the horizon who has that same sort of ability that we can
count on to step up and fill those shoes. We’re just not there right
now.”

As the Buffs head into fall camp, the starting cornerback
and safety jobs are still left open. The main competition for those
spots is likely to come from senior Arthur Jaffee and sophomores Paul
Vigo, Jered Bell and Deji Olatoye. Incoming freshmen also look to vie
for the starting job, according to Brown.

Talent development at secondary positions will be at a
premium, and there are few who are better at it than Brown. Under
Brown’s tutelage, former Buffs Deon Figures and Chris Hudson were both
named All-Americans and won the Thorpe Award, which is given to the best
defensive back in college football.

Brown is very familiar with the NFL, as he has spent 15
years in the league on the staffs of New Orleans, San Diego, San
Francisco and Atlanta. Brown says he believes his past in the nation’s
premier football league gives him a leg up when recruiting the best
players.

“It definitely helps, because there is a staff in place
that has been there and done that,” says Brown. “[The NFL] is where most
young guys want to end up if they have that sort of ability, so they
would like to be coached by somebody who has been in that league.”

The best will certainly have to be found
and developed, because the Buffs defense will face the very best of the
Pac-12 and the NCAA. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck returned to school
for his junior year of eligibility after being the projected overall
number one pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Luck threw for more than 3,000
yards, completed more than 70 percent of his passes, and finished second
in Heisman trophy voting. Oregon brings its high-octane offense,
generally considered to be the best in college football last year, to
Folsom Field in October. Other tough tests will be administered by the
University of Southern California, Ohio State and Washington, among
others.

Brown undoubtedly hopes that his third stint will more
resemble his first stint rather than his second. CU went 25-8-3 with
Brown on the staff from 1991 to 1993, including a Big 8 championship in
1991. In Brown’s most recent stint, the Dan Hawkins-led Buffs registered
a 16-33 tally. Brown believes the Buffs will have success under Embree,
their new leader.

“He is smart as a whip,” Brown says of his boss. “You’re
dealing with a man who is highly intelligent. His mind works very fast,
which is such an asset in football. He sees things. He processes it. He
gets it, and he has answers for the problems.”

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