Brown Loses Battle with Cancer
March 14, 2009
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State lost more than a coach on Friday night. Dan Brown, who had been on Fresno State' coaching staff the past 12 seasons with head coach Pat Hill, the last seven as defensive coordinator, passed away Friday night with his family at his side. He was 50-years old.
He battled brain cancer since the summer of 2007, yet remained an inspiration to his fellow staff member and student-athletes as he coached his final two seasons fighting through treacherous medical treatments and incredible pain. Brown never allowed his illness to be a distraction, working everyday with an incredibly positive attitude and never wanting to be the center of attention. He refused media requests to discuss the illness, but would talk for hours about his beloved Bulldogs.
"We lost a great friend and a great family man," said head coach Pat Hill. "Danny had been with me from the start. He had amazing faith through the sickness and it's so sad to see someone go generous and giving have to suffer so much. But he never once complained. He was an inspiration to anyone who ever had the privilege to meet him."
Brown and his wife, Mindy, have six children: Korissa, Tara, Larry, Eric, Travis, and Jordan, and two grandchildren.
Eric is a sophomore linebacker for the Bulldogs and Travis, one of the nation's top high school linebackers, is a senior at Clovis West High School and will be attending Fresno State in the fall.
In addition, he is survived by14 siblings, including 10 brothers, and his mother, "Nanny Sue" Brown. He is the nephew of longtime pro and college coach Dick Coury.
Brown graduated from Boise State in 1982, where he helped lead the Broncos to a Division I-AA National Championship in 1980.
He was a stellar high school and junior college player before heading to Boise State. As a two-year letterman (1979-80) at Boise State as a linebacker, he played on teams that posted a combined record of 20-4. The Broncos won Big Sky Conference titles both years and captured the NCAA I-AA title in 1980, defeating Eastern Kentucky 31-29 in the championship game. He transferred to Boise State from Mt. San Jacinto Community College, where he was an all-conference linebacker. He played at Norco (Calif.) High School, where he earned all-league, all-county and All-CIF honors as a linebacker.
An illustrious professional and college coaching career would follow.
Prior to arriving at Fresno State in 1997 as linebackers coach on Hill's first coaching staff, he was an assistant coach at Boise State. He coached with the USFL Memphis franchise for two seasons and one season in the Canadian Football League. He held defensive coordinator positions at New Mexico and Portland State.
Under Brown, the Bulldogs have been the WAC's top defensive unit in two of the past five seasons, leading the conference in both scoring and total defense. He was instrumental in making Fresno State a prominent program, reaching a bowl game in nine of the last 10 seasons.
This past season, Fresno State had two of the top defensive games in school history, holding New Mexico State to an all-time low of minus-9 rushing yards and the following week holding rival San Jose State to negative 5 rushing yards and delivering second-half shutouts in both games. Three young Bulldogs (sophomore linebacker Ben Jacobs, sophomore end Chris Carter and junior safety Moses Harris) were selected second-team All-WAC.
The Dogs were ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation in scoring defense in 2005 (14.8 ppg) on a team that was ranked No. 16 nationally in the polls. That year, the Dogs held Hawaii to 13 points at Aloha Stadium, fewest by a WAC opponent in the June Jones era. The Dogs also held Boise State's offensive juggernaut to seven points, fewest by the Broncos in nearly 20 years. Toledo, one of the nation's top 10 scoring teams of 2005, scored just 14 points against the Bulldog defense.
In 2004, Fresno State led the WAC in: scoring defense (21.1 ppg), pass defense (174.8 ypg), turnover margin (+7), total defense (339.2 ypg) and ranked third in the NCAA in pass efficiency defense (99.1 rating). Fresno State racked up such lofty numbers while playing the NCAA's No. 2, No. 9 and No. 11 scoring offenses, plus the nation's No. 2 passing offense and top-ranked rushing offense. That season the WAC was the nation's highest scoring offensive conference, averaging 39.0 points per game per team (not counting Fresno State's offense) and the Bulldog defense allowed just nine touchdown passes the entire season. Only four schools in the NCAA allowed fewer.
Fresno State's shutout vs. SMU on Oct. 30, 2004 in a 42-0 win was the first at the school since 1996 and the Dogs held opponents to an average of 16 points per game over the last five games of that season.
Among the many individuals who were touched by Brown, include several players who went on to play in the National Football League.
Some of the notable Bulldogs who Brown developed were accomplished players, either earning first-team All-WAC honors or played professionally: James Sanders, Marcus McCauley, Cory Hall, Tyrone Culver, Richard Marshall, Orlando Huff, Vernon Fox, Cameron Worrell, Sam Williams, Therrian Fontenot, Nick Burley, Louis Leonard, Jason Shirley, Tyler Clutts, Tim Skipper, Bryce McGill, Lawrence Deck, Tierre Sams, Damon Jenkins, Steve Muhammed, A.J. Gass and Jason Stewart.
Brown, an avid golfer, was responsible for putting on the annual Fresno State Quarterback Club Golf Tournament, which raised funds for the department. That tournament will be named in Dan's honor beginning this summer according to Hill.
His family was the most important part of his life. Brown family members, including Mindy and the children, were regular visitors to Bulldog practices and other Fresno State events.
His siblings, nieces and nephews, attended home and road games to support the Bulldogs. During the 2008 New Mexico Bowl, nearly 30 members of his family traveled to Albuquerque for the game.
Funeral services are pending.
"Dan's passing is a tremendous loss for both our football program and the entire department of athletics" said Thomas Boeh, Director of Athletics. "Dan was a wonderful friend, coach and mentor who served as an inspiration to his student-athletes and colleagues alike. Over the years, he positively touched the lives of countless individuals that, today, are much better off having known him."
"Throughout these past several months, even as he battled cancer, Dan continued to epitomize the characteristics of selflessness, leadership, courage and dignity. He will be greatly missed by all of us associated with Fresno State Athletics and our deepest sympathies are with his family."