When aumni return to their alma mater for a football weekend, activities usually include reminiscing around campus and hitting up the bar where they spent most nights (or mornings.) Come game day, the itinerary calls for tailgating and catching up with old friends before kickoff. While most Colorado alumni will be in the stands cheering for the Buffaloes on Saturday, Cha’pelle Brown will be on the sidelines, wearing the opposing team’s colors.
Saturday’s game against Colorado isn’t just another day on the job for Brown, it’s a reunion for the Oregon defensive backs graduate assistant coach. He’s looking forward to the trip Boulder, Colo., and isn’t losing sleep over having to face off against the school he once called home.
“It’s fun to go back and see some friends and some family,” Brown said. ” Torn? No, I’m a Duck.”
Brown was a standout cornerback at Colorado from 2006-2009, recording 257 career tackles for the Buffaloes and finishing 26th on Colorado’s all-time defensive list. Brown played in a total of 46 games for Colorado and was named the team’s most valuable player his senior year, earning honors as an all-Big 12 conference selection.
Originally from the Los Angeles area, Brown was a graduate assistant last season at Colorado. He found his way to Oregon through connections with head coach Mark Helfrich, who was the offensive coordinator at Colorado when Brown played there.
“The craziest part is not really that he coached me, but more that he was an offensive coach and I was a defensive player,” Brown said. “So that was a cool thing to be able to take care of business and do things right to get the opportunity to get on this staff.”
Only four years removed from being a student-athlete, Brown said he is really only familiar with the players, since Mike MacIntyre is in his first year as Colorado’s head coach.
“I just know the players. I don’t know the system or the coaches,” said Brown.
Despite his time as a Buffalo being formative in his career, Brown is glad to be part of the Oregon coaching staff and hopes to use his experience to positively affect the Ducks’ performance on the field this year.
“Colorado was a huge part of my growth,” Brown said. “I miss some of the experiences with the teammates, but I am glad to be here.”
On a day-by-day basis, Brown works frequently with secondary coach John Neal and his responsibilities lay within helping the defensive backs.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with a great coach,” Brown said. “[Neal] allows me to be hands on with him and I just work with the defensive backs.”
Coaching has always been something in the cards for Brown. Even when he was still playing football he knew he’d end up on the sideline coaching younger men, making the transition fairly seamless.
“I think I always knew I wanted to be a coach. As a player that was the type of player I was,” he said. “So I just knew when it was done. Greg Brown asked me to coach and it was something we all knew that I was all going to be a coach afterwards, so it wasn’t a long journey. It was easy.”
After keeping in contact with some of Colorado’s players, Brown is excited to reunite with a few old friends, but he’s committed to not letting the memories and former teammates distract him from this weekend’s goal: walking away with a win.