A Man for All Seasons

By Scott Cole / January / February 2002
July 1st, 2007
Although John O'Brien '55 played his last Brown football game as offensive and defensive tackle forty-seven years ago, he's never forgotten the football wisdom and cutting wit of longtime assistant coach Alex Nahigian, who died in August at the age of 82. "He used to say to me, ԏO'Brien, you've got three speeds: slow, slower, and stop.' He was a very good teacher and a very good coach. He was very forceful. He'd make you pay attention and understand."

Nahigian, who left Brown after the 1972 season, served under five head coaches - Rip Engle, Gus Zitrides, Al Kelley, John McLaughry, and Len Jardine - during his twenty-four years as a defensive-backfield coach and chief scout. When the Brown Football Association honored Nahigian with a dinner in 1969 to mark his twenty years on the Brown staff, Jardine remarked, "I've known many scouts throughout the country, and Alex is the best. He is the only man I know with a part-time job who works at it ten hours a day."

Nahigian, a high school teacher for thirty years in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, also coached the Providence College baseball team for nineteen seasons before resigning in 1978. In 1979 he became head baseball coach at Harvard, where he had served as an assistant football coach and scout after leaving Brown. Nahigian, who coached at Harvard until his retirement in 1990, was named New England Coach of the Year from 1983 to 1985. He is survived by three daughters, a sister, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

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January / February 2002