Edinboro University Athletic Director Bruce Baumgartner announced Wednesday that head football coach Scott Browning will not return for the 2016 season.
Browning was a member of the coaching staff for the last 30 years, having spent the last 10 as the head coach after being named the 13th head coach in Fighting Scots’ program history back in January 2006.
“We’d like to thank Scott for his service to Edinboro University,” Baumgartner said via a release. “As a head coach, he guided us to some very good seasons, and he always made academics a priority for his student-athletes. We wish Scott the very best and thank him for 30 years of service to Edinboro.”
Browning, completing his 10th campaign at the helm, finishes his tenure with a record of 57-54. The 57 wins represent the second most victories by a head coach in Edinboro history.
“I think it’s always a difficult decision when you’re talking about people,” Baumgartner told The Spectator in a one-on-one interview yesterday. “The decision to not have coach Browning back to coach in 2016, it was a difficult one. I also believe it was the correct one.”
The former Ohio State graduate led back to back nine-win seasons in 2008 and 2009 as the Scots finished in the AFCA final top 25 poll in each campaign. During Browning’s run, Edinboro made its lone NCAA playoff appearance in 2009.
Having compiled four straight losing seasons since 2012, Edinboro has compiled a record of 12-31. The Scots had not logged four straight losing campaigns since a stretch from 1997-2002 where Edinboro had six straight.
Browning’s 2015 edition finished 0-11; marking the first time since 1951 the program had gone winless in a season and the seventh time ever. It was also the first time the Scots had failed to win a PSAC game since 1968.
Although he declined to talk to all media upon the announcement, Browning issued a statement in a separate release yesterday.
“I have had 30 great years here at Edinboro. I have made so many friends and acquaintances during that time between coaches, players, and members of the community. I met my wife here, and had two wonderful kids here. I have always been proud to represent Edinboro University and everything that it stands for. When you become a head coach you know that day could come when you won’t be the head coach anymore. But I leave here feeling very good about what we accomplished here through the years, both as an assistant and head coach. We won 185 games in those 30 years, and enjoyed some of the finest seasons in Edinboro football history. I want to thank everyone who helped me grow from a young assistant coach to the head coach of an institution that I love.”
As far as moving forward, there is uncertainty as to how many members of the coaching staff may return as holdovers for the new head coach according to Baumgartner.
“A lot of those personnel matters, right now we have our staff that’s in place,” Baumgartner said. “We have some contractual issues. The new coach will have the ability to direct some of their staff. We’re going to move forward in a positive manner to provide the best for our student athletes. That’s what our goal is.”
Meeting with the team yesterday, Baumgartner stressed the importance of not letting academics fall behind despite the sudden change in leadership in the football program.
“We want them to stay positive and look at moving forward to the future,” Baumgartner emphasized. “Obviously when there’s some turmoil, change in people’s lives, they might not focus on academics. We’re trying to stress to them that they really need to stay focused on their academics.”
Baumgartner, who said he had received five emails of interest in the job despite the announcement having gone public for just about an hour at the time, wants a new head coach in place well before the start of the spring semester in mid-January.
“I think we’re going to get an awful lot of people interested,” Baumgartner said. “We’re going into this with no preconceived notions of anything. We’re going to analyze over the next couple weeks of what do we really need and want in a coach and then the committee, we’ll go out there and search and select down probably the top four, maybe three, maybe six to bring on campus to interview.”
Labeling it as a "national search," Edinboro will be searching for its 14th head football coach in the program’s history.
Mike Fenner is a staff writer for The Spectator.