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Don Brown joins Mark Whipple as candidate for head football coach at UMass

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
According to sources, Don Brown is a candidate to replace Charley Molnar as head coach of the University of Massachusetts football team. Brown was a defensive coordinator under Mark Whipple at UMass from 1998-1999 as well as the Minutemen head coach from 2004-2008.

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO According to sources, Don Brown is a candidate to replace Charley Molnar as head coach of the University of Massachusetts football team. Brown was a defensive coordinator under Mark Whipple at UMass from 1998-1999 as well as the Minutemen head coach from 2004-2008.

By MATT VAUTOUR @GazetteUMass
Thursday, January 9, 2014
(Published in print: Friday, January 10, 2014)

Two of the most successful football coaches in University of Massachusetts history could be vying to return to Amherst.

Mark Whipple has been the leading candidate to replace Charley Molnar since the position opened on Dec. 26. Don Brown, who was Whipple’s defensive coordinator and eventually successor, is on the list of candidates to be interviewed, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the process.

Brown just completed his first season as defensive coordinator at Boston College. He was the head coach at UMass from 2004-2008. Brown also led the defenses at Maryland (2009-10) and Connecticut (2011-12).

Whipple and Brown remain good friends. Rumors have persisted throughout the process that if Whipple was hired, he’d try to persuade Brown to come with him to UMass as a defensive coordinator, the same working relationship they had in Amherst in 1998 and 1999.

UMass sources also confirmed a CBSsports.com report that Louisville special teams coordinator/running backs coach Kenny Carter interviewed for the position on Thursday. Carter was previously a candidate at Eastern Michigan. His status is uncertain at Louisville as Cardinal coach Charlie Strong left to take the same position at Texas. If Carter doesn’t get the UMass job, it’s unclear if he could follow Strong to Austin, Texas, or stay at Louisville, where former Cardinal coach Bobby Petrino has been rehired.

New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell, who had been a candidate according to a Daily Collegian report, withdrew from consideration according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. Towson coach Rob Ambrose, who was expected to be a candidate early, signed an extension earlier this week to remain there.

UMass announced on Dec. 31 that it planned to have a new coach in place by mid-January. Coaches are allowed to speak to prospective recruits after Wednesday. Whoever is the next coach will certainly want to be in position to begin calling recruits immediately.

UMass chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy will unlikely get to meet the coach in person before he’s hired. According to UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski, Subbaswamy is on a business trip in India and will not return until next week. Subbaswamy can approve the hire from abroad.

“He’s kept in touch from afar,” Blaguszewski said. “He’s been in touch with the committee.”

Five full-time coaches who worked under Molnar are still on staff and continuing to recruit despite the lack of a head coach. Their familiarity with the recruiting process could help some of them remain on staff when a head coach is hired.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage