Long Beach challenge doesn't scare Brown

January 16, 1991|By Dick Wagner | Dick Wagner,Los Angeles Times

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Willie Brown, the former Oakland Raiders defensive back who was named yesterday to succeed the late George Allen at Cal State Long Beach, said his confidence and background equip him for his first job as a head football coach.

"When you see me walk, I've got a little sway," Brown, 49, said at a news conference in Long Beach.

"That's just me, and I was the same way when I played the game. I had so much confidence that the quarterback would say, 'I'm going to throw it somewhere else. No point in even bothering to throw it [in Brown's area].' "

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown played 10 seasons for the Raiders and was an All-Pro seven times. His 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI in 1977 is a record.

He was an assistant coach for the Raiders for 10 years and last season was an assistant under Allen, who died after suffering a heart attack Dec. 31.

Brown said his inexperience as a head coach would be offset by what he learned from Allen, Raiders owner Al Davis and Grambling University coach Eddie Robinson.

Robinson, who coached Brown in the early 1960s, said, "I'm very happy for Willie. I know that he always wanted to coach while he was playing here. He will give the program stability, and he's a disciplinarian."

Brown said he intended to finish the job Allen had started in turning around the Long Beach football program. The 49ers were 6-5 under Allen last fall, their first winning season in four years.

Brown, a native of Yazoo City, Miss., said he brings a clean image to his new job.

"If you're looking for something that is juicy gossip, you won't find it," he said. "Skeletons in the closet? There are none. I can truly say my life has been straight. I'm proud of that, and my ballplayers will be the same way."

Brown's hiring was announced by athletic director Corey Johnson, who less than 13 months ago had announced Allen's surprise hiring.

Pete Ketella, a Long Beach assistant, also had been interviewed for the job. But Harvey Hyde, the only member of the staff with previous Division I head coaching experience, did not apply.

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