Robby Brown had stepped away from football.
An odd set of circumstances is bringing him back.
Brown was named the interim head football coach at St. James on Monday night. After not coaching in 2013, he will take over program that has yet to put together a winning record in 10 seasons of varsity ball. And while nothing is official yet, Brown could ultimately have the interim label removed.
“I know that his name was brought up by some of the assistant coaches,” Sharks Athletics Director Paula Lee said. “… He’s very well-respected by the people he has worked with.”
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Brown, Lee said, did not originally apply for the chance to replace Mark Fischer, who resigned in February to return to Louisa County (Va.).
According to the release from St. James, Brown accepted the position on Friday, one day after it was discovered that all three of the school’s original finalists had withdrawn their names from the search. Ayden-Grifton (N.C.) coach Paul Cornwell said he was offered the job but turned it down. Cabell Midland (W.Va.) coach Luke Salmons and Georgetown’s Bradley Adams had previously removed their names from consideration.
Brown, however, is no stranger to taking over a football program under less-than-typical scenarios.
In 2004, he was appointed the interim coach at Carolina Forest while then-coach Doc Davis fulfilled his commitment to the South Carolina National Guard in Iraq. The Panthers were 9-4 that season, and Brown remains the only coach in Carolina Forest history to have a winning record.
Brown had been primarily a defensive coordinator at Carolina Forest, but when he made the move to Conway in 2005 he served as Chuck Jordan’s offensive coordinator for seven seasons.
“He’s an excellent coach. There’s no question,” Jordan said Monday night. “Robby knows as much football as anyone around. He’s a good football man.
“Robby was very detailed, very organized. He understood the game from top to bottom. He’s a good fit for them.”
Since Brown was already on staff as a science teacher, St. James did not require board approval to appoint him to the football position. It’s a similar move Loris made in 2011. After Jimmy Longerbeam left that program over the summer to take a job in Florida, Loris had little time to find their next coach.
The school went with Jamie Snider, who was already on the teaching and coaching staff.
Snider served out the 2011 season before getting the job full-time at the completion of the year.
That could also very well happen with Brown, Lee said. He has already begun his duties and will lead the team through spring practices, which open May 5.
“This is going to carry us through the fall,” Lee said. “He’s the interim coach, and I’m hoping that it’s going to be the right fit and he’d be interested.”
Brown, who was not immediately available for comment, will be officially introduced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.