Head Coach Fran Brown Brings New Excitement to Syracuse Football

Fran Brown

Only a month into his tenure as the new head football coach at Syracuse University, Fran Brown made good on his promise to “build something special for the fans” when four-star cornerback Marcellus Barnes Jr. donned a Syracuse hat during the nationally televised High School All-American Bowl, publicly committing to play for the Orange over Georgia, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech. 

“It’s the first time that has happened,” says Salatha Willis, associate athletics director for diversity, climate and culture, of Syracuse receiving a televised commitment during the High School All-America Bowl. 

And Barnes’ commitment wasn’t a one-off. By mid-January—only six weeks after Brown’s appointment—Syracuse’s 2024 recruiting class was ranked no. 35 on the 247Sports Composite, with 32 signees, including 21 high school seniors or junior college additions and 11 players from the transfer portal. The media outlet also named Brown national defensive back coach of the year for 2023 and national recruiter of the year. 

“Syracuse hasn’t been ranked in the top 40 since the proliferation of scouting services rankings,” says Willis. “If Coach Brown can accomplish that in a month, imagine where we’ll be in a year. He is an amazing coach, but in today’s college sports environment, financial support of the program has become essential to recruit and retain national-caliber players. This is an exciting time for Syracuse football, and I encourage our alumni and fans to support the program in whatever way they can.” 

Brown was introduced as Syracuse University’s 31st head football coach on Dec. 4, 2023, coming from the University of Georgia, where he served as defensive backs coach for two seasons, previously coaching at Baylor, Rutgers and Temple universities. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western Carolina University, where he played cornerback and served as team captain. He went on to play two seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

“I am incredibly proud to be leading Syracuse Football at a University with a rich and storied tradition of academic and athletic excellence,” Brown said in a statement officially announcing his hire. “I'm ready to get to work.” 

A Syracuse football fan while growing up in Camden, New Jersey, Brown sought out the Syracuse job, looking for a place to put down roots and raise his family, which include his wife Teara, sons Fran Jr. and Brayden, and two-year-old daughter Ivy Ann. 

The first college football game Brown ever attended was as a ninth grader watching Syracuse beat Wisconsin at the Meadowlands Stadium during the 1997 Kickoff Classic. He references that team—coached by Paul Pasqualoni and led by quarterback Donovan McNabb ’98—as his vision for Syracuse’s future. “We are going to bust our butt to . . . bring back the great tradition of football that was here before me, before my era,” he says. “We’re about to go shock the country.” 

Brown has already reached out to alumni of the football program to ask for their support. “I need your presence,” he told them. “I need [our players] to see the history that was before them. I need them to want to be able to mimic what happened before them.” 

Willis stresses that the support of all alumni and fans is needed to help Coach Brown be successful in returning Syracuse football to its former glory. “We’re looking for alumni and fans to embrace this amazing leader and help him catapult this program forward,” he says. “In order for him to return a championship culture, we need everyone to stand behind him financially and physically.” 

Fans can make an impact on the future of Syracuse Football in a number of ways. Those interested in supporting student-athletes through Name, Image and Likeness (NIL),  can make a contribution allocated to the football program through Orange United or Athletes Who Care. Those interested in supporting the in-progress construction of the new Football Operations Center can contribute to the ‘Cuse Athletics Fund. Additionally, the Football Head Coach’s Fund can be used at Coach Brown’s discretion to support his top priorities. Finally, 2024 season ticket deposits are available now at Cuse.com/Tickets

Says Brown, “I can promise you and assure you that what we’re going to do here is big things, but I’m going to need everybody to be involved and making sure to constantly support the show.”