Like several of Baylor’s assistant football coaches, Francis “Fran” Brown has known Matt Rhule a while now.
Brown served as assistant coach at Temple for six seasons, including the final four after Rhule took over as head coach. But years before that, he starred as an all-conference cornerback at Western Carolina when Rhule was an assistant coach with the Catamounts.
So when Rhule took the Baylor job last fall, Brown was one of those guys he asked to accompany him. Brown serves as the program’s assistant head coach and works with the team’s defensive backs.
Known as a fitness fiend, Brown nevertheless shared a story with the Trib of the most satisfying Snickers bar he ever consumed, as well as other anecdotes.
First of all, you were a quarterback in high school, correct?
Yeah, I played quarterback.
But you moved to defense when you got to college?
I moved to corner when I got to college. I played quarterback the first scrimmage and I couldn’t see (the field), I kept running. They tried to move me to wideout, and I didn’t want to play wideout. So I learned how to play corner.
So you’re a guy kind of like Blake Lynch, in terms of switching positions. Or had you played some corner before that, too?
I never played defense in high school, only played quarterback. I would say in reference to switching positions (I’m like Lynch), but the physical attributes are totally different. He’s a different animal than I am. But I got a chance to switch over and play corner, and it worked out for me. It gave me a chance to start in college for Matt Rhule for a couple of years, a little bit of opportunity to play pro ball and then get cut, so it all worked itself out.
Tell me the story, did you break your arm on kickoff coverage?
I broke my radius (a bone in the forearm). Coach Rhule was our special teams coordinator, and he’d give out Snickers if you made a tackle inside the 20. I got down there inside the 20, made a tackle and broke my radius, and on the way to the hospital (I said), ‘I want my Snickers, Coach.’ He brought them up to the hospital, he made sure he brought ‘em for me.
And I understand that you still stay pretty active. How much do you run in a day or a week?
I’m going to probably run two or three times a week. I’ll box a couple of times, and I lift as much as I can. So I’m probably active about five times a week, where I’m getting some work in, doing some stuff. I’ve got to be able to keep up with these (players). I talk a lot of trash. When you talk a lot of trash to them, every once in a while they want to line you up. I do some stuff with them, mess with them.
I’ll tell them, ‘I’m 15 pounds overweight, but you can always compete.’ I enjoy it. It keeps the youth in me. And just excited to be around them, man. To teach them how to get closer to Christ, be a good father, a good husband, things I’m doing and still learning. Then just to have an opportunity to stay up on the youth. They keep me up on the music and what’s going on, so it’s pretty straight.
As far as the boxing, did you do any of that in the actual ring?
I did it when I was young. When I got cut from playing ball, I tried to do it (professionally). Won the first time, the second time I did it I got hit too much. Told my wife, ‘I ain’t doing this, I can’t get hit in the face.’
So I just quit boxing. I like it, I like to go and do it. Everybody likes to watch (Floyd) Mayweather, think they could do that. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t tough enough to keep getting punched in the face. So I stopped doing it.
And you have two sons, correct?
Two sons – Brayden and Franny Junior. My 13-year-old, he’s a brainiac. He’s a really good kid, plays baseball. Plays football, I think because I played it. But he loves baseball. He loves robotics. My five-year-old, he’s sort of a football junkie already. I enjoy doing that. I enjoy being with my wife and my kids, to be honest with you, just playing with them. We’ve got two dogs – a Presa Canario bullmastiff and a Yorkie. That’s kind of our family.
We enjoy it down here in Waco. It’s pretty fun. It’s different for us. We’re always doing something. If we’re not here (at the football facility), we’re just doing something all together. Everyone gets a night to pick a movie, different things. We’re really enjoying Waco and what it gives us for our own family dynamic. There’s a place to eat every 20 yards, so it’s fun.
Plus a church on every corner, too.
There you go. Everyone is praying for you. I always tell them, ‘Thank you, I appreciate it.’