On To Osu
Brown moved on to take the head coaching position with Ohio State University. Francis Schmidt had resigned as coach and the people of Ohio wanted Paul Brown. Many of the high school coaches, according to Mark Bechtel in Sports Illustrated, wanted this dominating presence out of their ranks. "[They] made it known that if Brown did not get the Ohio State job, they would encourage their star players to matriculate out of state." Within two years after his hiring at OSU, Brown took the Buckeyes, who had been blown out in many of their games prior to Brown's arrival, to the national championship.
But his tenure at Ohio State would be short-lived. After only a few years, Brown was drafted and stationed as a lieutenant at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, outside Chicago. There, he initiated a football program, and asked Weeb Ewbank to be one of his assistants.
Though Brown had been promised that his job at OSU would be waiting for him when he returned, his successor also happened to be a friend of his, Carroll Widdoes, and Brown didn't want to put him out of a job. So he looked for gainful football employment elsewhere.
The Pro Ranks
In 1946, the city of Cleveland had been awarded one of eight franchises in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). In his article, Bechtel wrote that Mickey McBride, owner of a cab company in Cleveland, bought the rights to the new team. But the catch was that McBride, regardless of how much money he could spend, had no clue about what to do with a football team. He knew of only one coach in all of football, Notre Dame's Frank Leahy, whom he was going to hire. But Cleveland Plain Dealer Sportswriter John Dietrich encouraged McBride to look elsewhere, and persuaded him that hiring Paul Brown would be the best choice. Thus, Paul Brown took over as part owner, general manager, and head coach for the new Cleveland Browns.
With McBride's ignorance of the game, Brown had total control over the team. He had an amazing ability to spot talent, and as he formed the team, he wasn't looking for known stars. Brown sought men who would be a proper fit into the boot camp he was going to run. He intentionally went looking for obscure players, but chose Otto Graham as his quarterback. Brown would hire Bill Willis of Kentucky State College as an assistant coach, one of the few African Americans participating in a major college program. When all was said and done, Brown brought forty-six players to the Cleveland training camp on the campus of Bowling Green State University.