For football fans, a game at Brown is the best deal in town. It’s played on a real grass field in Brown Stadium, which has maintained the nostalgia of classic college football since 1925. There’s no bright lights or big money here; it’s all about the love of the game. And after a pair of lackluster seasons, the proud Brown Bears football team is starting their 2019 season with a new coach and new hope.
First-year head coach James Perry, a Brown University alumnus, takes over for legendary coach Phil Estes, who departed last fall after 21 years of leading the Bears. Estes helmed Brown to three Ivy League championships, but Perry – a former Estes assistant – will get his shot to turn the program around after the team went 1-9 in 2018 and 2-8 in 2017, with zero conference wins. For Perry, who comes back to Brown after two seasons as head coach at Bryant University, it’s a homecoming in more ways than one: the players on his 2019 squad include his nephew, EJ Perry IV, a transfer from Boston College. It could be a happy reunion between the junior signal-caller and a man who was the quarterback’s coach during Brown 2008 Ivy League championship season, and was known as a quarterback guru and offensive wizard during coaching stints at Princeton and Bryant.
EJ Perry’s family ties won’t win him a starting job, because one of the Brown’s best returning players is quarterback Michael McGovern, who led the Ivy League in passing yards per game despite the Bears’ abysmal record. Given Coach Perry’s freewheeling offensive reputation, however, it won’t be a surprise if all of the quarterbacks on the roster see time on the field – perhaps even during consecutive plays.
Talented running back Allen Smith will be back in the lineup after an injury-shortened freshman year, and returning all-Ivy League senior wide receiver Livingstone Harriott also could thrive in Perry’s high-energy offensive system. Coach Perry also scored a nice recruiting pickup in freshman linebacker Ethan Royer from Ohio and is hoping that an intensive new conditioning program will result in a faster, fitter, and stronger Bears team in 2019.
An early test was the team’s September 21 season opener against Perry’s former Bryant team in Smithfield, and it will be a minor shock if the 2019 Bears don’t improve over their performances the past two seasons.
The Bears play their home games at historic Brown Stadium on the East Side of Providence. Opening day of the 2019 home season is October 5 versus the University of Rhode Island, with the winner claiming the Governor’s Cup. It will be the 104th meeting of the two historic rivals.
For information and tickets, visit the Brown University Athletics website or call 863-2773. Tickets are $10-15.