Brown, 52, has been hired as co-defensive coordinator on coach Mike Stoops' staff in Tucson after serving as secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator under Dan Hawkins at CU for the past four years. Brown replaces Mark Stoops, who has been hired as defensive coordinator at Florida State.
"The love I have for this university ever since the 1991, 92, 93 seasons under Bill McCartney has done nothing but grow," Brown said. "My admiration for Boulder and the university and the football program, it was a tough decision to walk away from this place.
"But this was just one of those things where, boy, that was hard to say no to."
Brown passed up an opportunity last winter to leave Colorado to become co-defensive coordinator at South Florida because it wasn't the right time or place. He said when he received a call from Mike Stoops with the job offer in recent days, it was too much to pass on once again because of a long-standing friendship with Stoops.
Brown became friends with Mike Stoops and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops in the early 1990s during his first stint as CU secondary coach when the Stoops brothers worked at Kansas State. The relationships continued and blossomed during Brown's 15 years in the NFL when he was no longer competing against the brothers. The friendship ultimately lured him to Tucson.
"I'm just thinking that getting aligned with Mike Stoops, that's a gooddeal for a defensive coach," Brown said.
He inherits a Wildcat defense that ranked 21st nationally in total defense at the end of the regular season, allowing only 315 yards per game. Arizona finished tied for second place in the Pac-10 this season.
Brown is expected to share defensive coordinator responsibilities with current Wildcats linebackers coach Tim Kish. Other than Stoops, Brown said he does not know any other members of the Arizona coaching staff.
The job change likely means an increase in salary of as much as $100,000 for Brown and some security he did not have at CU. Stoops earned $283,914 this year. Brown earned $169,000 with the Buffs. Kish made $174,812 this year.
Brown said he preferred not to comment on what he would be paid at Arizona, but he said the increased responsibility of being a coordinator was the biggest factor for his move. Arizona generally gives its coordinators three-year contracts. Such deals are generally not available for assistant coaches at colleges in Colorado because state law limits each institution to no more than six long-term deals and those generally go to high-level administrators and head coaches.
"That was never even a concern of mine quite frankly," Brown said of having a long-term contract.
Hawkins and his assistants faced criticism all season for the team`s mediocre performance. During the final weeks of the season, Hawkins was believed to be on the brink of being fired until athletic director Mike Bohn announced he would be retained for at least one more season in 2010.
Brown said the scrutiny and uncertainty about the future at Colorado had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
"Hey, the game of football, you can`t predict from one year to the next," Brown said. "How one seasons ends is by no means a prediction of how the next season is going to go."
It is unclear who will replace Brown as secondary coach in Boulder, but Hawkins said a search is underway. Hawkins did not rule out a change in assignments among current members of the staff.
That could mean Hawkins is considering asking Ashley Ambrose to coach the secondary and hiring another offensive assistant. Ambrose came to CU because of his relationship with Brown and served the past two years as a defensive technical intern. He is in the process of being hired as a full-time assistant and is expected to take over as wide receivers coach, a job Hawkins handled this season.
If Ambrose was to switch to coaching the secondary, Hawkins could hire a wide receivers coach or continue coaching the position himself next year. Brown said he is not aware what Hawkins` plan might be.
Brown`s departure means the Colorado coaching staff will undergo a staff shakeup for the 19th time in the past 20 seasons and the third time in four offseasons under Hawkins.
"We`ve been very fortunate to have Brownie on our staff, and we wish him and his family the best," Hawkins said in a statement.
Leaving Colorado for a second time was a difficult decision for Brown, who grew up around the program watching his father, Irv, serve as an assistant football coach and head baseball coach in Boulder when he was growing up. He said during practices, scrimmages and games in Folsom Field, he often remembered times he spent in the stadium as a kid watching his father work.
"This is harder than you might think to leave here because of those ties," he said.
Brown said he will always consider Colorado home and he would have no reservations about returning to the program a third time at some point in the future. He said if he does one day find himself back in Boulder, he hopes it will be as a coordinator or even head coach.