Longtime Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown has come under fire for comments he made to the Omaha City Council condemning homosexuality, according to SI.com. Brown, citing Memorial Stadium as his address (an appeal to his authority as a Nebraska coach), told the council that they would face "great accountability for the decision you are making." And just so we're clear as to what accountability he's talking about:
The question I have for you all is, like Pontius Pilate, what are you going to do with Jesus? Brown asked. Ultimately, if you don't have a relationship with him, and you don't really have a Bible-believing mentality, really, anything goes... At the end of the day it matters what God thinks most.
In an interview with the Associated Press afterward, Brown doubled down on his stance and proclaimed it more important than his job:
To be fired for my faith would be a greater honor than to be fired because we didn't win enough games, Brown said in an interview with The Associated Press. I haven't lost any sleep over it. I realize at some point, we live in a politically correct enough culture where that very well could happen.
Ron Brown is free to hold whatever religious beliefs he likes. He's free to preach them as he sees fit. He's even free to intermingle them with his status as a well-known assistant football coach.
This is America, and our First Amendment protects those freedoms of his.
With that all said, if Ron Brown wants us to take his sentiments at face value, he should already be packing his bags out of his own volition and heading somewhere else, because Nebraska is not the right place for him.
Ron Brown shouldn't resign from Nebraska because he regrets his comments. He clearly doesn't, and that's fine. False apologies are usually no less distasteful than the remarks that precede them. He should resign because the University of Nebraska is a public institution whose policies directly contradict Brown's values, and will continue to do so in perpetuity, no matter what he does.
Nebraska should also not fire Brown. Here's the extent of the school's involvement, and frankly this is all it should be: "Chancellor Harvey Perlman admonished Brown for giving the stadium address, but he said Brown's personal views do not reflect those of the university."
So we have an employee of a public institution whose views he has strong religious opposition to, saying to be fired would be "an honor," and there are dozens of similar private institutions out there that don't share Nebraska's commitment to equality. But Ron Brown hasn't told Nebraska goodbye and set out for one of those schools yet?
Look, let's not pretend that Nebraska isn't one of the highest-profile college football programs in the nation. With the few private, religiously-affiliated programs that have equal or higher standing in the nation than the Cornhuskers, Brown can't just go to them and say, "hire me." That's not how college football works. So a step down in program prestige would have to be in the offing if Brown wants to actually demonstrate how important his faith is to him.
But we're talking about God's judgment. Ron Brown said so himself.
And right now he's taking paychecks from a school that defies his convictions. If he takes a significant pay cut to help coach at a school where his views are welcomed (and they're out there), how is that not a better situation?
In fact, there's this place called Liberty University, founded by famed Baptist pastor and televangelist Jerry Falwell 41 years ago. Its football program, the Flames, plays in the Big South Conference in the FCS, and the Flames just hired former Kansas coach Turner Gill. Gill and Ron Brown just so happened to coach with each other for over a decade at Nebraska under Tom Osborne.
I can't imagine a better fit for an assistant than that. Brown could probably even get a boost in job title for his troubles.
Yes, Ron Brown's paychecks would probably be smaller at Liberty. He wouldn't be on TV every week. The earthly spoils would not be as great. But if Brown is willing to proselytize in front of city councils and essentially dare a public institution's athletic department to fire him for not being "politically correct" enough, isn't it time for Brown to put his money where his faith is and take care of the job himself?