For me, February 26, 2021 one of the last days of Black History Month will always be remembered as the day the “Shocker Miracle” happened in Wichita, Kansas. Issac Brown the 51 year old coach from Pascagoula, MS who had been an assistant coach for over 20 years had his interim tag removed and given a new 5 year deal to become the Head Coach at Wichita State, which made him the 1st black Head Coach to ever lead a Division 1 program in the state of Kansas. Up until November 18, 2020, when former Shocker coach Gregg Marshall resigned two weeks before for the 1st game, Brown had always been hired as the black recruiter for the staff. I liken the position to being the head black cook at a white restaurant. Basically saying we will let you cook us our food but we will not let you own the restaurant.
He was heading into his 19th year of coaching at the D1 level like every other year basically just making sure he kept bringing in enough good talent so that he could keep his assistant job. He had to make sure that boss man would be happy. I know this may sound harsh but if we are brutally honest this is the real uncut truth.
Everywhere Brown has been the teams he had coached achieved a certain level of success. He owns championship rings from four different conferences (WAC, C-USA, MVC, Sun Belt). He has been apart of several NCAA tournament teams, he has been apart eleven twenty win seasons, eight regular season championship and even with the successes of all his previous bosses there was no quality Head Coaching job that could be found for Issac Brown. Who knows how many empty promises that had been made to Brown that he would get his turn just be patient. Based on the reality of the business the only Head Coaching D1 job that he could expect after 20 years would be at the SWAC or MEAC conferences two predominately black conferences or a terrible low major job that had very little chance of success.
Issac Brown didn’t have a father named Pitino so he couldn’t get his first D1 Head Coaching job at the age of 27 years of age. He didn’t play a prestigious university in Indiana and go on to be a D1 HC at 25 years of age. He had to wait his turn, his turn, and his turn.
Issac Brown and I have several things in common we are both from Mississippi what some consider the worst state in the country, we both are 51 years of age and we both coached with X&O genius Bruce Stewart. I was the youngest assistant coach (Ft. Wayne Fury) in the now defunct CBA with Stewart and a few years later I remember Stewart telling me he was going to hire a young guy who could recruit at Okaloosa Walton Junior College now known as Northwest Florida. That young guy was Issac Brown.
So you see when I saw the video on Twitter where the Wichita State AD Darron Boatright told the team that Brown was going to be there Head Coach for the next 5 years, I immediately broke down and cried. Why did I cry you may ask because history in mind had been made in 2021. I was able to witness a coaching miracle when it comes to black coaches. I can’t remember many if any black coaches who were known as recruiters for over 19 years get a quality D1 job as a Head Coach. I remember the Tracy Dildy’s of the world a coach who brought in countless talent year after year at Depaul, Auburn, Ball State, Illinois Chicago, Ole Miss and UAB. Dildy waited his turn, his turn, and his turn and when he finally got his turn he had to take arguably the worst Division 1 job in the country at Chicago State. That’s one of the reasons why I broke down and cried when I saw that Brown had gotten the Shocker job. Because I was used to seeing so many qualified black coaches who had put so many years as an assistant either get passed over or have to take bad jobs. I still wonder to this day what the likes of a Dwayne Stephens Tom Izzo’s assistant or Cornell Mann Cuonzo Martin’s assistant or the veteran assistant Coach George Brooks Ben Howland’s have to do to get a quality D1 Head Coaching job. How long does Terry Johnson Chris Holtman’s assistant coach at Ohio State have to wait his turn? He was an assistant coach at Butler from 2007-2017 from 2004-2006 he was the DBO. Brad Stevens got his turn, Brandon Miller got his turn, Chris Holtman came from the outside of the Butler family, and got a turn and now Lavell Jordan came back and got his turn. Terry Johnson is still to this day waiting on his turn.
The hiring of Issac Brown gives hope to next young black assistant coaches who have been hired as recruiters, coaches like Cason Burk of Jackson State, Jalen Courtney of McNeese State or Trey Johnson at Alabama State.
So you see this is why on February 26, 2021, I had tears rolling down my eyes because I witnessed the “Shocker Miracle” a black coach named Issac Brown, who saw everyone else get their turn finally got HIS TURN!!