ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Call it the “Tao of Don Brown.” Or something along those lines.
Brown, Michigan’s first-year defensive coordinator, has developed a bit of a cult following among Michigan’s fan base and among Michigan’s players. And not just because No. 2 Michigan boasts the country’s top scoring defense (10.0 points a game) and the nation’s top passing defense (111 yards a game).
Brown brings style and substance to the Wolverines. Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight wants to pay homage to Brown in a unique manner.
“After the season, I might grow a mustache in honor of Don Brown,” Speight said Tuesday. “I actually thought about keeping a mustache to come out and talk to you guys, but my grandmother wouldn’t like that.”
Brown’s defense has helped Michigan’s gain valuable possession time. It also gave Speight some valuable — yet painful — insight as a quarterback facing a defense the caliber of Michigan’s.
“If a drive doesn’t work out the way you want, you know we’re probably going to get the ball back in three plays, or maybe just a few more,” Speight said. “But I say this all the time. It was probably the worst month of my life, going against that defense every day in camp. I feel bad for quarterbacks every Saturday.”
Brown is known for his intensity and his aggressiveness, traits he passes along to his defense. But he also has a way of showing what his players mean to him.
“He’s really cool, and he yells at you if you make a mistake, but he’s going to yell at you because he loves you,” defensive back Dymonte Thomas said. “I got yelled at a few times, but on this team, you can’t make plays like that.”
Brown has a certain term of endearment for his players, too.
“During the offseason, a lot of the guys got the ‘dude of the week’ during spring ball, that’s when it all started,” Thomas said. “I was like, maybe I’m going to get it one day, and I never got it. But he always says, ‘Hey, you’re the dude,’ right before practice, just to remind you that you’re special, that you mean something to him.”
— Don Brown (@FBCoachDBrown) March 21, 2016
Brown made the tradition of labeling his team’s “dudes” popular during his tenure as Boston College’s defensive coordinator.
“Maybe, at the end of the season, hopefully we can all be dudes,” Thomas said.