WILKES-BARRE — Buzz around town, especially with those involved in local college football for months has revolved around Wilkes’ vacant head coach position.
For more than two months after Frank Sheptock resigned on Dec. 17, the post went unfilled, and the administration kept a tight lid on who the final candidate would be until Tuesday morning.
That’s when school president Patrick Leahy, vice president of student affairs Paul Adams, and administrators welcomed Trey Brown with an introductory news conference.
“We have been playing football since 1946, had just seven head coaches and chose the last one 17 seasons ago,” Adams said right before introducing Brown to a Marts Center room filled to capacity with football players, assistant coaches and administration. “So this is a process that we do very seldom. So as we undertook this process, we wanted to make sure that we had the very best search and process that we could have.”
Heck, the search was so much under the radar, even Brown was waiting in suspense for weeks and he thought he was out of the running. After applying for the post in mid-January, he did not receive an interview for a while, then wasn’t notified he was getting the job until about 12 days after his interview.
“I felt good about how I interviewed. I felt good on the brief relationships I had the opportunity to make over the couple days I was interviewing, but I also knew to get the opportunity to be a head football coach is so doggone hard,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of good candidates, I’m sure. You go back and forth, ‘Did I have the best interview? Is this the best fit?’
“You go through a lot of things in your mind, but I was all over the place. I didn’t know if I was in it or not.”
Whether or not the school was hoping to keep a very good hire secretive, Brown’s credentials certainly appear that he is more than a better fit for the job.
He comes from Muhlenberg College, where he spent the last four years as the Mules’ special teams coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Prior to that, he’s had nothing but Division I coaching experience, spending four seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Lehigh.
Before the stint with the Mountain Hawks, he was with the University of Pennsylvania for five seasons as tight ends coach and wide receivers coach. He started his coaching career at Stanford as an assistant coach after graduating from the University of Colorado and St. Mary’s College of California.
He worked under coaches Tyrone Willingham at Stanford, Al Bagnoli at Penn and Andy Coen at Lehigh before moving on to the successful Muhlenberg program. Brown’s offenses have been explosive and his teams have been successful no matter where’s he’s been.
Last season, the Mules averaged more than 37 points per game. With Lehigh in 2006, the team won a share of the Patriot League title averaging 27.2 points per game that season. From 2001-05 with Penn, the team posted a 40-9 mark and averaged more than 40 points per game in 2002-03. When he started with Stanford, the Cardinal were in the top 10 nationally in offense and reached the Rose Bowl in 2000.
“This is a great opportunity for me to take 16 years of working with great people at great institutions and put them into play,” Brown said. “I think through all my stops in the 16 years, there have been great assistant coaches I’ve worked with and great head coaches I’ve learned a lot from.”
Still, with all the credentials he has, there’s no place he would rather be than with a Division III program, about an hour from his home of Center Valley, located in the Lehigh Valley.
Brown said he will commute to Wilkes-Barre for the near future because his wife, Lea, has a job in Bethlehem, his daughter, Keelan, 7, and son, Mason, 4, are heavily involved in academics in their current school district.
During the nationwide search, there were seven candidates interviewed on campus by a panel of administrators including Adams, director of athletics Addy Malatesta; Ted Yeager, member of alumni executive board; coaches Frank Matthews (softball) and Jerry Rickrode (men’s basketball); and football players Omar Richardson and Nick Dawson.