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Brown together with Stoops a perfect fit for Kentucky football program


This is such a perfect fit for Mark Stoops, Neal Brown and the University of Kentucky football program that it’s almost hard to believe it has all come together.

Brown, the former Boyle County standout, should be officially named Stoops’ offensive coordinator at Kentucky sometime today after finally saying yes to the lucrative offer that could possibly make him the highest paid coordinator in the Southeastern Conference.

As soon as former coach Joker Phillips was fired with two games still remaining, it seemed that Brown — a former UK walk-on receiver under Hal Mumme who finished his playing career at Massachusetts — could be the ideal offensive coordinator for the next coach. Once Stoops, the defensive coordinator at Florida State, was hired as the new coach, it was obvious Brown should be his choice based on what he has down with the Texas Tech offense.

“I realize with my background in defense that the offensive staff and the offensive coordinator will be critical to our success. That’s priority for me right now,” said Stoops at his introductory press conference. “We’re going to have an offense that you guys are going to enjoy. I promise you that. We’ll get out there and rip it around it a little bit, we are going to throw it.

“But you have to be creative. I’m a defensive guy. This is the SEC. It’s a physical conference. I realize that. I want to be tough and I want to be physical.  We have to build this foundation with great defense. There’s no way around it. If you don’t play great defense, you’re not going to win consistently.

“But with the offense, again, I want somebody that has a plan, that’s been successful, and we have to be creative.  We will have a physical presence about us, but we will spread it out and use some bells and whistles, get the run game going and, again, be a little bit creative.”

Brown can do that. He did at Troy when he got promoted from receivers coach to offensive coordinator when Tony Franklin — the man who hired Brown at Troy — left for Auburn. He certainly has at Texas Tech even though coach Tommy Tuberville, who left for Cincinnati Saturday, never was all-in with Brown’s offense. That’s why it didn’t really matter if Tuberville had stayed at Tech or not. Brown was ready for a change and got that opportunity from UK.

Brown’s Texas Tech offense averaged 501.4 yards per game last season and ranked in the top 12 in the nation in yards gained and points scored. Kentucky struggled mightily in both areas the last two years. In 2009, Troy ranked third nationally in total offense (485.6 yards per game) fourth in passing (336.5 yards) and 16th in scoring (33.69 points).

His work at Texas Tech was noticed by more than Stoops. He was interviewed for head coaching jobs at Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi. He likely could have got more interviews this week because of his reputation as one of the nation’s rising young offensive minds. At age 32, he’s already shown he can produce big numbers and wins.

Stoops’ brothers both believe in this offense. Bob Stoops hired Mike Leach — a Mumme disciple and coach at Texas Tech before Tuberville and Brown arrive. Mike Stoops hired Sonny Dykes — another Mumme disciple — as his offensive coordinator at Arizona when Mark Stoops was the defensive coordinator.

Once I learned former UK quarterback Tim Couch was a Stoops’ backer and also had the ear of UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart, Brown made even more sense. Brown and Couch were UK teammates and good friends. They’ve stayed in touch and Couch believes for Kentucky to win, it must be able to spread the field on offense and create mismatches that can negate superior talent like UK did when he played for Mumme and got the Cats to the Outback Bowl.

Stoops not only targeted Brown, but he encouraged him to pursue his head coaching opportunities last week and at the same time gave his blessing to the contract Brown wanted. Few new head coaches would be so patient, and Brown won’t forget that.

Still, Brown had one concern few will ever understand. He knows coming back to UK is a great move and gets him, his wife and two daughters back closer to family and friends. However, those family members and friends now will also be exposed to all the criticism that can be directed at a Division I coordinator. Brown worried what kind of emotional toll that would take on those closest to him.

However, when it came time to let Stoops know what he would do, the financial commitment from UK and a chance to come home and work under Stoops won out. Brown believes Stoops not only can win, but win big. Couch believe Stoops and Brown together certainly can win big.

Considering UK was 2-10 last year, it’s hard to imagine this much excitement over UK football. But athletics director Mitch Barnhart not only has hit a home run with Stoops and his staff, but he can laugh all the way to the bank as fans renew season tickets or new fans buy tickets.

Having Brown bring two more Cats — Chad cott and John Schlarman — back only adds to the buzz.

Schlarman is a Fort Thomas native and worked under Brown at Troy after spending one year at UK as a graduate assistant and four seasons as head coach at Campbell County and Newport high schools. He stayed at Troy when Brown went to Texas Tech but Schlarman, a all-SEC performer under Guy Morriss in 1997, will be coming back with Brown.

Scott played at UK from 2000-2002 and then transferred to North Carolina. He played briefly in the NFL and has coached under Brown at both Troy and Texas Tech. He’s consider a dynamite recruiter and works extremely well with Brown. This is also a big move for him because his wife, Shambrica Jones, is a former UK basketball player.

Brown obviously will coach the quarterbacks and apparently Stoops has added former Tennessee assistant Darin Henshaw, 40, to coach the receivers. That’s part of the youth movement Stoops hopes can revitalize UK football through coaching and recruiting.

No one, though, can be more thrilled to do his part to make UK football relevant than Brown. The Nelson County native bleeds blue. Always has. Always will. Now he can have a big part in reshaping Kentucky’s football future and helping Stoops fulfill his promise that UK can not only win, but win big.

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  1. Larry T Clemons

    Wow ! This is more than Perfect…..Larry V., thank you for all the comments and feedback. Larry, you have been on this from day one…it’s great to read this hire from you and your valued knowledge, contacts and words. Thank You Larry V. and ” Welcome Back Home ” , Coach Neal (Bleeds Blue) Brown !

    1. larryvaught

      Thanks Larry T. Just seemed to me from start Neal would be perfect and once Tim Couch got involved, always felt it would get done

  2. Dwayne Ayers

    Love the fact that Stoops is bringing Kentucky boys back home. Can’t wait to get home and see the re-vamped football cats!!! BLEEDING BLUE EVEN WHILE DEPLOYED!

    1. TrueBlueJohn

      Thank you for your service.

    2. High Point Cat Fan

      I second that…Thank You!!!

    3. LarryPup

      Dwayne..God bless. Pray for our troops everyday. I know what it’s all about. I’m a Vietnam vet. Served in USMC 63 to 67.

      1. UKFAN197TONE

        Semper Fi. 1989-93 and again 1996-11.

  3. Mr. Morals

    Awesome, I cant wait to for them to get it all rollin’, it will take a couple years to get some key personnel recruited, but I can guarantee things will be a WHOLE lot better with these guys at the helm. I gotta give credit where it is due, although I still hated the way he handled some things in the process, Mitch made a good hire in coach Stoops and I think we are on our way to turning things around. Congrats Mitch and Congrats to the BBN. HOPE is everything and at least we have that now. GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  4. Dover Cat

    Mitch made another great head coaching hire and the staff Coach Stoops has hired so far… WOW!
    I can’t believe football season has been over for weeks and the BBN is hyped as if we were going to a BCS bowl game.

  5. Andy P

    I was hoping Mike Summers would be retained, but it’s great that John Schlarman is coming home. He’s married to Joe Federspiel’s daughter, so I know Joe is thrilled.

    1. RJ

      Andy. You’re right. Joe will love to have his family back close by again. But this is going to be a tough job especially in the beginning. They’re going to have to have tough skin.

    2. LarryPup

      Joe Federspiel..a name from uk football lore. A great one.

  6. Mike Martin

    What I like the most is all these guys are not only recruiters but real coaches too, not to mention ties to really locations for recruiting. Another guy from Florida, Texas, throw in Ohio and wow. Relentless recruiters on my! Our DC stopping by Frankfort first too. This could really be special and I’m looking forward to it big time.

  7. Mike Flannery

    Kudos to Mitch……I was one who was disgusted with the process. Now it will take patience by us fans. ( That I obviously did not have. ) I think everyone realizes it will take time and we will have to slowly build the program with 3 star and a few 4 star recruits. We will see a crowd at the Spring game like we have not seen for years!

    1. larryvaught

      With you Mike, this has all worked out better than I ever imagined. Mitch was right, I was wrong. Proud to admit that because now UK football has a buzz about it back

    2. LarryPup

      I always had faith in Mitch.

  8. Larry T Clemons

    Finally, Mitch B. is starting the ” Thank You’s, that a boy’s and Job well done, he deserves…Even if you don’t like MB personally (not me), you have to respect and appreciate what he is doing for Wildcat Football…

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      I washed my Crow down with a cold Big Red and Lays baked potato chips. I just knew UK was going to get a “no name”, well, a little hot sauce goes a long way in taking the bad taste of Crow out of one’s mouth too.

  9. shinny

    “Finally” Larry I can’t explain how happy I am for you(knowing Brown is a Danville guy) and all the BBN. Thanks to Mitch for hearing our crys for FOOTBALL. This is the “Real Deal” Larry and I can’t wait to hear the “Air Raid Sirens” again. Very seldom do you see a football team get a chance to have a do over, but this time with a great,wise,experinced defensive head coach that will run a “clean” program it will work. As a long time frustrated football fan HOPE is finally on the horizon!

  10. RJ

    I’ll have to admit. MB has hit a homerun with the coaching staff. That is to say, he brought all the right names into one pot to start cooking. Coaches have to get to know one another just like players and coworkers. Expect a few rough spots going forward.

    But the real key to the “homerun” is execution of the plan. We have to bring in players that can make plays. We have to train them up. Then, they have to execute. This is not going to be a cake walk folks. It will be entertaining but when your team is at the bottom of the heap. It’s long climb to the top. I just hope these guys don’t take their eyes off the goal.

  11. john4uk

    Just imagine the “Air Raid” offense with a solid defense backing it up,that’s what UK fans are in store for.Talk about excitement.Now we UK football fans have something to really look forward to,an exciting brand of football with a competitive team on the field.And imagine some of the recruits coming with these coaches that know about this type of play.Should equal a sold out Commonwealth Stadium.

  12. eddie

    what has got me worried is that wku has hired bobby petrino and now fans are worried if he beats us in the first game mitch will have alot of questions from fans wondering what went wrong

    1. Larry T Clemons

      WKU, has been making a name for itself in Basketball and Now, Football has been put on the national Radar with the Petrino Hire…” I’m glad Petrino is in Kentucky, I like it when all of OUR STATE SCHOOL’S do well….Go Racers, also….

      1. RJ

        Look for WKU to make some major advances in their football program now that Patrino is there. Also, he will leave the program as soon as he proves he can be trusted by bigger schools. But he will leave a strong program.

      2. LarryPup

        I don’t mind any of our state schools winning with the exception of Louisville. Hope they lose every game. As for WKU and their new hire, just wait, give Bobby time and they will be kicking everybody’s ass.

  13. Russ

    Any contract terms on the assistants published, yet? Any conversation on how that compares to what we have been paying vs. other top schools would be of interest to me… Thanks for the great site. Go Big Blue!!

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      “Terms of Brown’s deal have yet to be released, but the contract is rumored to pay him $600,000.” http://www.scout.com/2/1248276.html

  14. shinny

    Eddie never fear! One man cannot overcome BBN filling LP Field along with Coach Stoops AND Coach Brown and the “Air Raid” for OPENING GAME 2013. Little Petrino will go down is it game time Yet?

    1. Larry T Clemons

      This one, two punch of Stoops and Brown, Out weighs all Head Coaches in the SEC, heck The Nation….BBN, will be understanding that UK is building, not Built !

  15. Wes

    It all sounds like a great staff. Can’t wait to see these guys go to work.

  16. ford

    its going to be a great season, good job

  17. coldspringmike

    People, lets slow down a little. This staff has been together for one day, has not one commitment yet. We will be playing next year wih the Joker players left over and the Joker recruits coming in. I too am excited for 2013, looking for great football, but as several others have mentioned its going to take a few seasons to get this going full steam. I would be pleased next year with 6-6 or 7-5 which means we had beaten a few SEC teams along the way. This staff seems top shelf and a BCS bowl could be down the road. God, I hope we are all correct in our praises, UK football fans deserve it.

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      I can hear what you’re saying, but it’s the excitement of the new staff. I don’t think I’ll be yelling that UK is going to the BCS Championship game any time soon, but I’m still excited about the possibilities of a better team.

      1. UKFAN197TONE

        I know you weren’t talking directly to me, but I still wanted to share my thoughts on your post; good one by the way.

    2. Larry T Clemons

      With the ” Right Players “, not the BEST PLAYERS…In ” The Right System “, you’d be surprised how a group of Strong ” well lead ” Young Men, can respond. ” Remember 1980 Lake Placid “, not the best Hockey Players in the World, but the best Players for THE SYSTEM Herb Brooks instituted. The rest is History… ” Kentucky Wins, 2013 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP ! ” Ok, Ok, , Now I’m getting ahead of myself….But, you see my Point…and feel my optimism.

      1. LarryPup

        Larry T..if UK can beat WKU and Louisville next year they will have a great season. Just watch those two games and you’ll see. If they lose those two it will be a tough year.

        1. Larry T Clemons

          Great Point ! ” King Of The Bluegrass ” , still has meaning, no doubt about it…

  18. Anonymous

    We all know these guys can coach. Recruiting many more 4 and 5 stars is the key. If they do that UK will rise to the top. There is no other way. Talent wins.

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