The Commerce Board of Education named 15-year teacher/coach Michael Brown as its “interim” head football coach Monday night, and Brown called for a “dialogue” about restoring the football program to its former glory before the next permanent coach is hired.
The board voted on a motion by Mary Seabolt following a 56-minute closed-door session and with the recommendation of superintendent James “Mac” McCoy.
“Mike, you’ve done a great job for us,” McCoy said. “You’ve stepped up at a time literally within minutes of spring practice starting.”
For his part, Brown expressed a desire to return Commerce football to the level of days passed.
“I don’t think anybody is happy with the program. We’re 32-35 over the past six years. That’s certainly not the Commerce you know and the Commerce I grew up with,” he said. “I think there were two winning seasons.”
The 1992 CHS graduate prefaced his remarks by saying his comments came out of “concern for our football program,” not from a “divisive or accusing spirit,” and he closed his remarks with praise for former head coach Marvin Justice.
“I’ve never seen a man put more into his job than Marvin Justice,” Brown commented. “He’s put a lot of heart into this program too. …He has been a good friend to me and a good man to work for. At the end, I think it was more than he could bear.”
But Brown spent most of his comments on the topic of changing the status quo of Commerce football, calling on the system to tap into the city’s “tremendous resources,” including former coaches Ray Lamb and Steve Savage, and “tons of parents that love Commerce football.” He repeatedly called for the formation of a “plan of action.”
“I’m going to do everything I can,” he continued. “I need some help. The first two days of spring practice we had three coaches. Later on, we had four. We finished up a really good spring. Everyone’s excited. The coaches we have are excited.”
Brown advised that the coaching staff must do a better job of teaching the players and promised, “there won’t be any complaints about coaches standing around.” In response to a question from chairman Ronald Gary, Brown said the football program needs seven coaches, including himself – three dedicated to offense and three to defense. In addition, he said that he wants one coach who is clearly responsible for the junior varsity squad.
“The real challenge is what are we going to do long-term?” he said. “What are we going to do between now and December when we hire that coach, whoever he may be? …I want my kids to experience what I experienced. I want the football program to be back what it used to be.”
Brown said he had “no doubt that we can come up with a plan of action.”