Former Patriots wide receiver getting new coaching opportunity
December 5th, 2022
A former Patriots legend is returning to New England to take over in a coaching role. However, it’s not with the Patriots.
On Sunday, University of Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield was announced as the new head coach at the University of Cincinnati. That left the Cardinals with an opening to fill not just long-term, but for their bowl game later this month.
In the first of many fun twists in this story, UL announced on Monday they are going with former Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch as its interim coach for that game. Branch, 43, played two years at Louisville after transferring there from the JUCO level. In his time with the Cardinals, he was named an All-American, two-time All-Conference wide receiver, and inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor. He’s considered one of the best players in the history of the program.
With Scott Satterfield leaving for Cincinnati, longtime Patriots WR and Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch will serve as Louisville's interim head coach for their bowl game on December 17th. pic.twitter.com/Fh8ioytDBD
As an NFL player, Branch played 12 seasons after being drafted by the Patriots in the second round in 2002. He won two Super Bowls with New England and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX. He’d later be traded to the Seattle Seahawks before returning to the Patriots for a three-year second stint, then retired at the end of the 2013 season.
Branch rejoined the Louisville program back in January, when Satterfield hired him as the Director of Player Development. Branch is also involved in alumni relations for the program. Prior to returning to Louisville, he was an assistant coach at Carmel High School in Indiana.
At the ‘introductory’ press conference, Louisville athletic director Josh Heird said that Branch ‘doesn’t have head coaching aspirations at this time,’ and ‘is not a candidate to be the next full-time head coach.’ Still, it will be interesting to see what Branch does with the opportunity.
Deion Branch was on hand to entertain the crowd during practice at Cardinal Stadium on Sunday, April 3, 2021 (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK)
That opportunity will come against Branch’s old boss’ new employer, as the Cardinals will face Cincinnati in their bowl matchup this year. The matchup revives an old rivalry, known as the Battle for the Keg of Nails, between the two geographically-adjacent schools, which began in 1929 but has been dormant since 2013. Satterfield won’t be coaching in that game for Cincinnati, but his presence will likely be felt.
Branch’s college coaching debut will come in a region he’s plenty familiar with. Louisville and Cincinnati are playing in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl at Fenway Park in Boston. The game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 17 with an 11 a.m. kickoff. A win would have Louisville finish 8-5 on the season, tying the Cardinals’ highest win total since 2017. Cincinnati comes in at 9-3, having lost its regular season finale to Tulane, a result that saw the Bearcats drop out of the AP Top 25 Poll.
Can Branch help lead the Cardinals to a big postseason victory, and their first bowl win since 2019? It will be interesting to see if he can be the latest former Bill Belichick player to find success on the sidelines.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.