May 7, 2012
James Brown was a four-year starter and letterman from 1994-1997 who finished his career with 30 UT records, including career marks for TD passes (53), passing yards (7,638) and total offense (8,049). He posted seven career 300-yard passing games and went 25-13-1 as a starter. He was voted Longhorn team captain in 1997 and was voted SWC Offensive Player of the Year in 1995. Brown led the Longhorns to the final SWC Championship that season and the first Big 12 Championship in 1996. He beat OU in his first start as a Texas QB in 1994 and threw the famous “Roll Left” pass to TE Derek Lewis that defeated #3 Nebraska, 37-27, in the inaugural Big 12 Championship game. Brown is currently the running backs coach at Lamar University.
What was it like playing with Ricky Williams?
Easy. As a quarterback, I remember the first game he played – I think it was in Hawaii. It was is first collegiate game and, you know, you see the guys in the dorms jumping on the beds and in practice not showing too much. But when he got into the game - I threw him a pass and [wow] . . . .just making people miss, taking the ball 40-50 yards. And he did it so easy, you wonder why everybody else couldn’t do that. But he was a special kid, even in that first game. It was a pleasure watching him play and playing with him.
How nice is it to come back on Letterman’s weekend and see all the guys again?
This is what it’s about. As I was driving up, I thought, “This should be a good family atmosphere.” That’s what we expect. Just to hang out and get along.
Do you still feel that family atmosphere each time you come back to visit?
I’m always in Austin. I’ve never been away, really. The whole program and Austin is just a great atmosphere. It’s always good when we come back.
How did you end up coaching?
For us players, it’s natural. I’ve had so many good coaches in my life and been around football so much and seen so many good players. I’m a running backs coach and watching Priest [Holmes], watching Ricky, watching Shon Mitchell; that’s helped me be a better running backs coach. The experiences that I’ve gained, it just makes it a natural for me to be a coach. I was in real estate and, obviously, we had to get out of that, so coaching was next. It has been a good transition.
Having done a lot in your life, is it just your personality to try different things?
I guess just that the sky’s the limit. Growing up a little poor kid in Beaumont with no shoes and whatnot – I just believe it when people say that you can be whatever you want to be. I just kind of took that attitude and, you know, just being the first black quarterback to start at Texas – just taking that attitude saying that I could do whatever . .
Speaking of your time at Texas, do you feel that you were a pioneer or trendsetter in that regard?
Yes, I guess. I mean you still had [former Texas QBs] Donovan Forbes and Donnie Little, of course, who was a good mentor to me. At the time I didn’t think about it and even now I don’t think about it because I don’t put myself in a certain category. It’s all love in the orange and white.
Is it special to be coaching at Lamar and in your hometown of Beaumont?
Right. I’ve been to Canada and Germany and Scotland and all types of places playing football, and it’s just good to get back home. I’ve been away for about 15 years - parents get older and grandparents get older, so it’s just good to back at this time for me. So everything’s going good.
All those years playing, was it the love of the game that kept you going?
I had football in me. I wasn’t done after college. It was just natural. It was just natural for me to continue to play. I’m still coaching. I’m still out there throwing. I’m still out there catching punts, playing with the kids. I am football, and it’s a part of me.