After the press conference concluded, after sharing a message of family and tradition and shaking every single Clovis West football player’s hand, Eric Brown was still not done.
He kept on meeting parents and answering questions until the high school’s cafeteria was empty.
Brown greeted every parent and player with a warm smile and handshake. He was meeting these people for the first time, but carrying himself as if he was catching up with an old friend.
In reality, that’s exactly what Eric Brown was doing when he was introduced as the new Clovis West head football coach on Friday afternoon.
He was returning to the same school where he patrolled the middle of the defense as a linebacker and won a 2004 Valley championship. It was a homecoming for him.
“This place has given me a lot,” Brown said. “Now it’s time for me to give back to this place.”
The Brown family has deep roots at Clovis West. Brown and all five of his siblings attended the school. His three brothers, Larry, Travis and Jordan, also played football. Travis and Jordan were part of Valley championship teams in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
“The last three [Clovis West] Valley championships had a Brown on the team,” Brown said. “We’re going back to having a Brown on the sidelines so we are going to be alright.”
Brown’s father, Dan Brown, joined Pat Hill’s first coaching staff at Fresno State in 1997 as a linebackers coach. He later spent seven seasons, from 2002 to 2008, as Hill’s defensive coordinator before passing away in 2009.
“I saw the impact that [my Dad] had coaching,” said Eric Brown at Friday’s press conference. “I knew I wanted to make a career out of it.”
After playing for the Bulldogs and graduating from Fresno State in 2011, Brown stayed in Fresno as a graduate assistant for two seasons. He took his first job coaching linebackers at Indiana State in 2012.
Brown followed that with five seasons as linebackers coach at Idaho and three at UNLV. The move to Clovis West became official Thursday night following an interview process that involved four potential head coach candidates, according to athletic director Matt Loggins.
“I called my wife with the news and she cried instantly,” Brown said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be at Clovis West.”
Brown’s wife, Carrie, also a Clovis West alum, and their two daughters, Harper and Sophie, sat in the audience Friday as the new head coach laid out his vision and goals. One of them — connect the current team to the glory days of a football program that has gone 6-21 in its past three seasons.
“The goal is to honor and connect with the great tradition here at Clovis West,” Brown said. “There have been great programs throughout…a lot of them I have played with and my brothers may have played with. We are going to connect and really honor that tradition and bring [alumni] back on board with us.”
There was one man not in attendance Friday who had his fingerprints all over Eric Brown’s return to his alma mater: Dan Brown.
“I think [my Dad] would be very proud,” said Brown. “I think he would be very excited with the opportunity that I got. He would be excited to get on the sidelines and watch some games.”
“He’ll be watching.”