SALISBURY - Two Catawba College alumni and former football teammates will be across the field from each other in New Orleans during Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3. San Francisco 49ers Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula ’90 and Baltimore Ravens Kicking Consultant Randy Brown ’89 will share both a Catawba connection and a healthy rivalry at the game.
“Facebook was abuzz this past weekend (Jan. 20) with Catawba alumni well wishes after we learned that these two teams were going to the Super Bowl,” explained Catawba College Alumni Director Margaret Faust ’89 who was a classmate of Tomsula and Brown. “For Catawba folks, having two alums heading to the Super Bowl quickly trumped the Harbaugh brothers’ story-line.”
Tomsula is in his sixth season with the 49ers and some recall that he served as San Francisco’s interim head coach for the final game of the 2010 season. Since his arrival, the 49ers run defense and pass rush has improved. According to the 49ers website, in 2011, the team set the NFL record by not allowing a rushing touchdown in their first 14 games of the season. The team only allowed three rushing touchdowns that year, the fewest allowed in the NFL since the league went to a 16 game schedule in 1978.
Prior to joining the 49ers, Tomsula enjoyed an extensive career with NFL Europe. He was named head coach of the Rhein Fire in 2006, becoming the youngest coach in NFLE history at age 38. He also served as the Berlin Thunder’s defensive coordinator for two seasons, winning World Bowl XII in his first season with a defense that ranked first in the NFLE against the run. Between NFL Europe seasons, Tomsula spent each fall as a member of Catawba’s coaching staff since coaching in the NFLE was not a year-round position.
Tomsula graduated from Steel Valley High School in West Homestead, Pa. He transferred to Catawba as a sophomore from Middle Tennessee State in 1988 and was a defensive lineman for nine games that year. The standout nose guard recorded 50 total tackles, including 29 solos. He also made three quarterback sacks, caused a fumble and recovered three other loose footballs. In 1989, after a knee injury ended his playing career, he began his career in football as a student coach at Catawba. Since that fall of 1989, Tomsula has coached 28 seasons of football at the high school, college and professional levels and held multiple coaching titles.
Brown joined the Ravens as a kicking consultant during 2008. Under his leadership last season, the Ravens’ special team units were led by 2010 Pro Bowl Kicker Billy Cundiff and Punter Sam Koch. Cundiff scored a career-high 122 points in 2011, and Koch produced a career-best and franchise record 46.5 gross average. Prior to joining the Ravens, Brown worked with multiple pro and college teams, including the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, the Chicago Bears, and Tennessee Chattanooga. He has also worked in television and radio broadcasting, including positions with ESPN Radio in Philadelphia, WIP Radio and Comcast SportsNet. He has been a contributor to the Philadelphia Eagle’s pre- and post-game shows.
In 1989, Brown’s first season after graduating from Catawba, he served as kicking coach for the Indians. He then spent seven years working at two different New Jersey high schools as special teams coordinator, from 1990-93 at Cherokee High School and from 1994-1997 at Holy Cross High School.
Brown came to Catawba from Cherokee High School in Marlton, N.J. He was a placekicker for Catawba, lettering four times (1985-88) and posting 234 points during his career. He was named an NAIA All-American and earned All-South Atlantic Conference honors in 1988, in addition to garnering Academic All-American accolades. During his four-year career at the college, he kicked 40 field goals and 114 extra points. He owns five Catawba kicking records and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Tomsula and Brown played together at Catawba only one year, in 1988, but Catawba College Athletic Director Dennis Davidson ’81 called that “a very good year for Catawba.” The Indians were 8-4, won the SAC Championship and advanced to the NAIA playoffs, falling to Central State (OHIO) 24-10.
Davidson remembered, “Their Catawba team’s big win came a week before the NAIA playoffs, on Nov. 19, 1988, when they closed out the regular season at home witha packed house, and a 41-21 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne which clinched the championship and won them a playoff berth.”
Today, Tomsula and wife Julie, live in San Jose, Calif., with daughters Britney and Brooke, and son Bear.
Since 2007, Brown has served as mayor of Evesham Township, N.J., where he and wife Trisha make their home with daughters Ryan and Mackenzie, and son Tyler.