UMass interim head football coach Alex Miller played for the new boss back when he was the old boss.
UMass announced on Monday that Arizona offensive coordinator Don Brown would be the Minutemen’s new head coach in 2022.
Brown, 66, will be making his second stop in Amherst. UMass was an NCAA Division 1AA program, the precursor to today’s FCS, when Brown led the team from 2004 to 2008, the most successful stretch (41-19) in school history.
Miller started 50 games at center from 2003 to 2006 and was a two-time All-Atlantic 10 first team All-Star and an AFCA and TSN All-American his redshirt senior season on Brown’s watch.
“Obviously, I played for him and he was an important part of me growing up and developing as a player and a coach and a person,” said Miller. “I couldn’t be more excited he’s back.
“He was a huge part of this family and I think we made a great hire. I just want to get that out there.”
Miller has one last piece of business to clear up before UMass drops the curtain on a disappointing season that cost former coach Walt Bell his job.
The Minutemen (1-10) will close out the campaign when they travel to Las Cruces, N.M., to take on the Aggies of New Mexico State (1-10) at 3 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies have ties to Massachusetts at the top of the coaching pyramid. Former Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani is the Aggies’ defensive coordinator. NMS head coach Doug Martin, who wrapping up his ninth and undoubtedly final season, was Spaziani’s offensive coordinator at BC.
“They rip the ball around on offense and they throw it a decent amount,” said Miller. “They distribute the ball in the pass game and mix in a little run and on defense they play multiple fronts and blitz a little bit.”
UMass and NMS are two of the seven FBS Independent programs and both have fallen on hard times. UMass has played three of the other Independents this season. The Minutemen beat UConn 27-13 on Oct. 9 and were trounced 62-17 at Liberty on Oct. 30. The Minutemen made a good showing for three quarters before falling 33-17 at Army last Saturday.
“I told them before the game, at halftime and after the game that when you play hard and give that kind of effort good things can happen,” said Miller. “It was 19-17 at the start of the fourth quarter and that was exciting for the players and the coaches to be in the game and have a good feeling about football.”