Nathan Brown, promoted to University of Central Arkansas head coach, during a whirlwind weekend, has actually been head coach in waiting for a long time without the official title.
It surprised no one that Brown was athletic director Brad Teague’s top choice to succeed Steve Campbell, who resigned Thursday to take the South Alabama and that he moved "quickly and prudently" to seal the deal.
Actually, Brown’s qualifications go back to 2005 when he was a recruit after quarterbacking Russellville High School one season.
Scott Brezee, a former player and assistant coach who now heads athletic academic advising at UCA, knew way back when and literally solidified his vision for UCA’s future during a May trip to Frisco, Texas.
Brezee played in the offensive line when Brown was a quarterback and later served alongside him as an assistant coach.
"You could tell then he had it in him to be a coach," Brezee said, "with the way he understood the game and could motivate and treat players. You could tell by the way he motivated teammates when he was a quarterback. As a coach, players bought in because he’s genuine."
During a May trip to visit a friend in Lewisville, Texas, Brezee decided to drive by Toyota Stadium in Frisco, site of the FCS national championship game. He saw a pile of stones.
"This looks like a nice one," he said as he took it for a memento.
"When I became head coach, he gave me the rock," Brown said as he did show-and-tell at his first news conference Monday. "He said he wanted to bring me that rock to represent getting to the national championship game. I thought that was one of the coolest thing somebody could do on my first 48 hours on the job. This rock will sit on the top of my desk. My players will look at this rock every time they come into my office. You know what? Whenever we get there, I’m gonna bury this rock somewhere."
The tidal wave of events and fate began when UCA was upset by New Hampshire in the second round of the FCS playoffS.
The defeat created a win-win situation.
"I don’t think there was any secret we didn’t play our best game," he said. "I will coach to the grave saying we were the best team, but we weren’t that day.
"I visited with coach Campbell several times over the last four days. He has always says everything happens for a reason. If that loss didn’t happen, coach Campbell probably doesn’t get the opportunity to go to South Alabama and the opportunity doesn’t open here. I was prepared and ready. Obviously, I don’t want to use a loss for what is was meant to be. This particular loss worked out for a lot of things."
Campbell grew up in the Pensacola area and South Alabama was his dream job. Brown describes himself as a "Bear for life" and UCA is his dream home.
So, it was a neat package. Campbell returned home and Brown stayed home.