COMMERCE — Michael Brown called it "one of the most difficult decisions" he has ever made, but the Commerce football coach announced this week that he is stepping away from the Tigers.
"It's for personal and professional reasons," said Brown, a 1992 Commerce graduate and former Tiger player, who rejoined the program as an assistant coach in 1999 under legendary coach Steve Savage before taking over as head coach in 2013 (following a two-year stint under Marvin Justice). "And it hasn't been any easier since I made it; if anything it's gotten tougher after seeing the reactions of players and others."
Regardless, Brown is leaving the school he led to a 43-17 record in five seasons in charge, including five state playoff appearances, highlighted by back-to-back Class A Public semifinal runs in 2014-15.
"I don't know what I'm going to do yet; I've got no plans going forward, but my wife and I will sit down soon and start to make some decisions," Brown said.
Whatever he decides, Commerce High Principal and athletic director William Smith says he will be missed.
"We wish Mike the best of anything; he'll make a great coach wherever he goes," Smith said. "He's leaving the program in as good a shape as it could be in. The kids are in the best shape strength-wise they have ever been thanks to the strength program he's inititated. Our numbers are also good. We had to buy more uniforms last season, which is a good problem to have."
Smith says the process of finding a new coach is already well under way.
"We've had probably 45 applications already, and it's only been 24 hours since we posted the job," noted Smith, who added that he would like to narrow the field soon. "I hope to have five-seven candidates by next week or the week after and get them in here to start interviewing."
While the Tigers are known for their triple-option offense, Smith will entertain all types of approaches.
"I'm open to other styles," Smith said. "Option is what our kids know from little league through to middle school and high school, but it takes a disciplined staff to run it. Every coach is different, and we're going to pick the best fit for us."