Patriots great Deion Branch will be back in Boston this weekend serving as the interim head coach for Louisville as they take on rival Cincinnati in the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl, a new northeast-based bowl game that will feature a meeting between the AAC and ACC.
This year it happens to be a rivalry that dates back to the 1920s with Lousiville and Cincinnati, with Branch on the sidelines of his alma mater Cardinals, taking over earlier this month just after the team completed a 7-5 season.
Branch returned to Lousiville this past January as Director of Player Development. Meeting with the media on Friday in Boston, he acknowledged it was a strange situation but one he's embraced as an opportunity.
"Given the situation with the coaches, this is an unusual predicament to be in. But first and foremost, our guys have embraced the moment taken full advantage of the opportunities," said Branch. "I'm expecting a great game tomorrow. Not a good one – a great one."
Branch, a 2002 second-round pick of the Patriots won two Super Bowls with the team and was named MVP of Super Bowl 39 after collecting 11 catches for 133 to help lead New England to their third title in four years. In two separate stints with the team, he'd finish with 328 catches and 24 touchdowns.
Branch credited his own coaches, including Bill Belichick, as inspiration since he took over following Scott Scattefield's departure and began preparing the Cardinals to play in the bowl game.
"Everything that I have been doing from the moment I took this job, everything is from all my coaches – coach Belichick, coach [Mike] Holgrem, coach John L. Smith from Louisville. The beauty is I get to give these guys all the resources within two weeks," Branch explained. "It's a lot of information, and they've been doing a great job receiving everything I've been giving them. We'll see what happens tomorrow."