Ron Brown takes his faith & football to Youngstown

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
In an interview with, Tight Ends Coach Ron Brown talks about integrity when recruiting players. "I love the capital 'I' that starts off with 'Integrity.' I tell my daughters 'It's like Roman numeral one. It means one. It means you're the same here as you are over here—when this person's watching, when that person's not watching, when you're by yourself or when you're in public,'" he said. | UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA (screen capture)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (Christian Examiner) -- Yesterday, Ron Brown, 58, ended a two-decades plus relationship with the University of Nebraska, most recently as the running backs coach, to follow what he feels is God's will for his life to become associate head coach and running backs coach at Youngstown State.

The decision to join Bo Pelini, the recently released head coach of Nebraska, at the Ohio school came after Nebraska's new head of the program, Mike Riley, left Brown with the impression that he wanted to build his staff from associates he had already worked with, ESPN reported.

The desire to continue coaching made the decision to join Pelini an easy one, Brown told the Associated Press.

"I just felt like God has given me a passion and a desire to continue to coach," Brown said. "I feel God's pleasure when I coach."

The decision might seem surprising given Brown's deep spiritual convictions and Pelini's penchant for expletive-laced language. But Pelini's standing up for Brown's religious beliefs was an important factor in Brown's readiness to to go.

"I respect Bo because he's not a public coward, and he's not politically correct. He's allowed thousands of young men to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ because he refused to let some system tell him that was not the right thing to do," Brown said.

Among the notable occasions when Brown was recognized for demonstrating his faith on the field was in 2011 when he led a centerfield prayer at Penn State during the aftermath of the child sex abuse claims against Jerry Sandusky.

In the future, Brown said he would continue to hold his Christian faith high on display, and has already been promised Pelini's continued support as well as that of the school's administration.

"Wherever I'm at, that's how it's got to be," Brown said. "I caught flak for it in Nebraska, got in trouble for it numerous times, but I'd do it all over again."

In total, Brown spent 24 years on the Cornhuskers' coaching staff after first being hired in 1987 by Tom Osborne. It was there Brown first worked with Pelini when he led Nebraska as head coach in 2008.