Podcast: Central Arkansas coach Nathan Brown checks in to talk about kicking off season

The latest episode of the Amway Coaches Poll podcast talks with Central Arkansas coach Nathan Brown, who led his team to a 24-17 win Saturday against Austin Peay in the first college football game of the 2020 season.

Central Arkansas' dramatic victory came during a prime-time broadcast on ESPN. 

"Just an unbelievable opportunity, to play in a game like that," Brown said. "It’s a reward for our players and our coaches and our staff for doing things right throughout the summer, as far as the pandemic and the COVID testing and all those things.

"And to cap it off, we were able to get the win."

As the first teams to play amid the coronavirus pandemic, Central Arkansas and Austin Peay gave an early look at how matchups can move ahead as scheduled while taking into account testing and travel logistics influenced by safety protocols. 

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"Once the whistles were blown and we entered the field, 60 minutes of football and executing plays, offense, defense and special teams, that’s what it was about," Brown said. "You didn’t think about the outside stuff or even the stuff that led up to that point."

Brown also discussed what makes him a rarity in college coaching: he played quarterback at Central Arkansas, setting a number of school records from 2005-8, and after short stints with Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints joined his alma mater as an assistant coach in 2009. He was promoted to head coach prior to the 2018 season and led last year's team to the Championship Subdivision playoffs.

"In this profession, normally you look at a coach’s background and profile and you see him at 10 different places in 12 years," he said. "I’ve been very blessed to be at one spot my whole coaching career. That doesn’t happen. That’s not something that’s realistic in the world we live in as far as coaching goes."

The episode also includes a conversation with Evan Barnes, the Memphis Tigers beat reporter for The Commercial Appeal.

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