Brown steps down as head Bobcat
BLHS football coach calls it quits after 5 seasons
Ask Lombardi's Packers or Osbourne's Cornhuskers how they felt about their head coach and you'd likely get a warm and fuzzy answer from even the toughest of men.
That's how most Basehor-Linwood High School players feel about Paul Brown, and that's why it came as a shock to them Monday, Nov. 17 when he resigned as the school's head football coach.
"He was a great football coach," said all-league lineman Ryan Heffley. "He taught us a lot about the game, but more than that, he taught us how to be great people."
And that, Brown hopes, will be his lasting legacy at a school whose football program was in turmoil before he arrived.
"I hope people remember me as a person who had a great love and passion for the game of football and an even greater love and passion for the young men who played it," Brown said.
Brown began roaming the sidelines at BLHS in 1999. At the time he was the school's third head football coach in three years and his No. 1 priority was bringing stability and a winning attitude to the program.
During his first season, Brown inherited just 32 football players and guided the Bobcats to a 2-7 record.
Five years later the number of young men out for football had doubled and Basehor-Linwood had hoisted four banners to the rafters of its gymnasium.
"I honestly believe that I left this place in a lot better shape than it was in when I found it," Brown said, citing a desire to tackle new challenges as the reason for his resignation. "There comes a time when it's time to move on and look forward to the future. I want to thank all the kids who worked so hard during my time here. I greatly enjoyed this opportunity and I hope I contributed to the growth of the young men who played for me in a positive manner."
In his five years at Basehor-Linwood, Brown guided the Bobcats to two Kaw Valley League titles and two district championships. His teams qualified for the state playoffs in both 2000 and 2001 and were, for a period, the class of the KVL.
In terms of wins and losses, Brown's teams left a little to be desired. The Bobcats were just 15-32 under Brown, but he did not view the success of his program solely by what he saw on the scoreboard. Instead, he adhered to the two core values he began with.
"From the beginning, the first two things in our playbook have said it all," Brown said. "This should be fun and this should contribute to these players' education. If we've helped them grow to be better people, then that makes me happy."
Judging by the wall behind his desk, which is full of pictures of his former players, and the look in the eyes of those, both past and present, who played for him, Brown did more than that.
"With coach Brown and all of our guys, we were a team," junior Kyle Speichinger said. "He never gave up on us and he knew, just as we did, that we could beat anybody at any time. It was always all about us with him."
Speichinger, who has his senior season ahead of him, said it would be hard to move on without Brown in the huddle.
"It's pretty hard to look at this as something positive," Speichinger said. "Nothing real positive ever comes out of a change you don't want to happen."
Heffley, who spent four years in Brown's system, said he felt for those players who would not get to finish their careers with Brown.
"I'm sure whoever the new coach is will do fine," Heffley said. "But this is very disappointing. No matter who it is, they won't know those seniors or care about them half as much as coach Brown does."
Brown will finish out the school year as a teacher and assistant track coach. After that, he anticipates seeking employment in the field he loves. He didn't say whether he'd like to be an assistant at the college level, where he coached for five years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, or a head coach at another high school, where he's spent 23 years of his life. But he's willing to consider all of his options and he's excited about moving forward.
"I love football and I love kids," Brown said. "When one door closes, five more open. There are new challenges ahead, and I'm looking forward to those. I don't know what I'll do or where I'll go, but I love coaching and I'm very excited about what the future could hold."