Once a National Park tour guide, Brian Newberry followed quite a path to reach his current role as the U.S. Naval Academy’s head football coach.
This year, during his first season in the leadership position, Newberry established his place guiding the next era of Navy football by leading the Midshipmen to a 5-6 record — including an impressive three shutout victories — ahead of the Army-Navy matchup on Dec. 9. in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Following four seasons serving as the team’s defensive coordinator, Newberry took the helm of steering Navy’s football team when the school’s athletic director reportedly fired the previous head coach in the locker room immediately following the Mids’ loss last year in double overtime against West Point.
“The pinnacle for me was becoming the defensive coordinator here. That is what I had loved doing the most during my career,” Newberry said in a statement earlier this season. “Being a head coach was never the be-all, end goal for me.”
A native of Oklahoma, Newberry himself played collegiate football at Baylor University, where he graduated in 1998. He wound up taking a job as a tour guide at Glacier National Park in Montana for six months.
“I just wanted to do something different, be around different people and see a new part of the world. I also wanted to see how much I really wanted to get into coaching,” Newberry said in the statement.
Prior to his arrival in Annapolis, Maryland he began his coaching career at Southern Arkansas University, later joining various other schools before serving as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
“We love the way [Newberry] took over – super calm and collected, handling things extremely smoothly, getting involved on both sides of the ball and special teams,” Navy senior defensive end Jacob Busic said in the statement. “We wanted a guy who knew the Naval Academy and could put us on the right track again and we thought Coach Newberry was that guy.”
Navy’s 2023 season
Under Newberry’s leadership, the Midshipmen started the season with a 42-3 loss against The University of Notre Dame in an overseas matchup in Dublin, Ireland. But the team quickly bounced back with a 24-0 shutout against Wagner College, giving Navy its first shutout at home since it beat Lafayette College 7-0 in 1994.
Navy endured back-to-back losses against The University of Memphis (28-24) and The University of South Florida (44-30) later in September but come a new month, the Mids managed to pull out a win against The University of North Texas (27-24) in early October.
Then in its second shutout of the season, Navy defeated The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 14-0.
After another pair of losses, against The United States Air Force Academy (17-6) and Temple University (32-18), the sea service school snuck in a Veterans Day win against The University of Alabama at Birmingham (31-6).
A shutout against East Carolina University (10-0) marked the third of the season for the Midshipmen and the most by a Navy team since the 1978 squad posted four. It preceded a 59-14 loss for Navy against Southern Methodist University, their final game before facing the Army Black Knights.
Whether or not Newberry leads Navy to sail to a win when the team dons its new uniform in honor of the U.S. submarine force during its upcoming match against Army (5-6) remains to be seen. The game is scheduled to be televised nationally at 3 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, Dec. 9 on CBS.
“There’s no game like this in college football that I’ve ever been a part of,” Newberry told Military Times during a Nov. 27 press briefing. “There’s nothing quite like it.”
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media