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Former players agree adding Brown shows that Kentucky will make more of a financial commitment to football


Bringing former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown to Kentucky to run the offense for new coach Mark Stoops certainly seems to have pleased UK fans, but the move has been just as popular with former players. “I can’t think of anything that has gone over bigger,” said former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard of Lawrenceburg, who lettered at UK from 1989-91.

Four other former lettermen — Jason Todd (1992) of Stanford, Derek Abney (2000-2003) of Charleston, S.C., Dave Hopewell (1976-78) of Harrodsburg and Andy Murray ((1986-89) of Florence — all agreed on that as well as the overall excitement about Kentucky football since the hiring of Stoops.

Question: What is your reaction to UK spending the money to bring a creative, innovative offense mind like Neal Brown to the program?

Murray: “I am thrilled to see us participating in the financial arms race, and really believe we can compete with a creative offense. Hal Mumme could score with anyone and would have taken us to another level if he believed in defense. He also had a few quirky thoughts on his special teams approach and simply believed that he did not have the talent to defend some of the guys that were returning kicks in our conference. When you add his offensive scheme to a program that has a head coach with a defensive pedigree, it will be scary. You can look at what his brother did in OK with the same approach, and OK was at a low point in their program’s history from a talent standpoint. I think most everyone will agree, our team has more young talent on it today than the first two Mumme teams. The other key to this is approach is the fact that Brown’s system has done a better job of running the ball as you can see in their rushing yards per game at Texas Tech.”

Abney: “I have not heard the final numbers but it’s very encouraging. To get Neal, you would need to provide a substantial financial incentive. This is the last justifiable beef the BBN can have with Mitch Barnhart; financial support of the football team. This could be the beginning of a beautiful thing.”

Maggard: “My feeling  reflects reserved euphoria. I am dang proud of UK, but understand re-building a roster is both challenging and takes time. Neal Brown, in my opinion, is the best offensive coordinator in college football and now he’s home in Lexington. But Neal will be more about business than homecoming pats on the back. I like that. College football is a mere Econ 101 text book case. Re-distributing funds to any entities major money maker is sound business and also is on par with the rest of the SEC. Mr. Barnhart has set the stage.”

Todd: “It is an exciting proposition to think we will have the defensive coordinator of the second ranked 2012 defense and the offensive coordinator of the second ranked 2012 passing offense teaming up at UK. I personally feel that this is the first step that UK has to take to see us get back to a competitive situation with our football program. It is great to think that we are in a situation to attract successful coaches to our program. I feel the next step is for the administration and the fans to do their part. By that I mean, the administration preparing and executing a plan to make the facilities and ‘extras’ for UK football to match the rest of the SEC.  For the fans, I think that means they have to be willing to support the program with their attendance and the financial commitment that comes with that. Neal will bring an offensive style that we have seen before. It was exciting and successful and actually led to the last major financial expansion by UK when they expanded Commonwealth Stadium.”

Hopewell: “I’m certainly glad to see it. And again everyone knows how much I like offense. To bring in a coach who is has put together teams that have run offenses in the top 10 in the country at a couple of different schools is a step in the right direction.The added bonus that he is a Kentuckian and a former player, that is pretty sweet too.”

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  1. Ira

    Larry, I hate to be the doom and gloom on this one, but go back listen to the AD’s comments when Coach Stoops was being introduced as the Head Coach to UK. There were two reporters that asked Mitch Barnhart questions concerning updates, upgrades to faciliites to UK football, to the first reporter he managed to sidestep the question. It sounded good and he almost got away with it, the second reporter maybe 5-10 mins later pinned him on specifics what his plan was. His answer will surpise you. Go back and listen. Its not what you think. Same ole same ole. We are working on it for the last 10 years and continue to work on a plan. Wow! Its 13 years now, and still no renovations.

    I think I was more disappointed in the UK president. He had a chance to make a statement about upgrades and renovations. He had a chance to make a splash with the UK football fan base, and what did he talk about, we need a firmer commitment to education and pull more resources to that effect. I was like wow 2 minutes into the introduction of Mark Stoops and I realized there would be no actual renovations to Commonwealth. The University President set the tone with his speech right away. I’m just surpised no one else caught it. geez

  2. shinny

    As a long time member of the BBN living in Georgia. I for one look forward to talking football with my buddies here in the middle of the SEC. We have a coaching staff to be proud of and the spirit of the fans will rise. I’m proud !!!

  3. shinny

    Never fear Ira-winning will change their attitude! As Todd said above when the sirens are turned back on it will happen as it did before-stay positive Ira!

    1. Ira

      Shinny don’t misunderstand me, I’m as excited as I can be. More excited than I have been in a long time in fact. I follow recruiting pretty closely, and just watching and seeing where this staff has been compared to Joker’s old staff and I’m like wow!

      I think Neal Brown is going to bring an exciting brand of offense to UK and if Coach Stoops and our new DC Elliot can get any sort of handle on our defense for this season coming up, I think we will have a better season than most people realize.

      But the AD has had 13 years to do something than upgrade the pipes in the stadium. In my book he has made a real good hire with Coach Stoops, and Stoops has put a real good staff together. Hopefully recruiting wise, and field wise, it will translate to wins. Its that I don’t think the AD should be given a pass on the upgrades because of this hire. 13 years to come up with a plan to get it done. Heck even in the old Soviet Union they had what were termed 5year plans. They worked on them, set goals for every 5 years, and got them done. Mostly failures. but they set plans, worked towards goals. Not seeing anything towards football that the AD has ever done this in 13 years. Just want people to keep that in the back of their mind.

  4. Larry Pup

    I think and certainly hope we are moving in the right direction for football improvement on the field, and facilities improvement too. I think these former players got it right on our coaching choices just hired. This sends a strong message that the admin. is committed to winning football at Kentucky. From my view as a long time UK football fan, great success still hinges on recruiting. I don’t think we can win big in football at UK unless we can attract more top football talent. I don’t care how many bells and whistles you put in CWS. Winning on the field brings to fruition all our hopes and dreams, and things start to take care of themselves. If you need more seats, you have to eventually expand CWS and a recruiting room gets built in the process. Recruiting is and will continue to be the challenge for this football staff. They must find a way to start winning in order to attract great athletes who have a desire to play football at UK. I am encouraged more than I have been for a long, long time.

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      Good point and it’s been said for years, RECRUITING is going to get things turned around. However, FIRST thing that needs to get done is getting the right coaches. NOW, UK has those coaches. Yes, it’s easier to recruit for FLST then it is for UK, but this hire definitely helps. Then, you add Brown, who has all the stats to back up his talk, can get the type of players UK needs. The old staff got a few good players in UK jersey’s, but I venture to say that a WR, QB, TE, etc will want to play for a coach that put up the kinds of numbers that TT was putting up. The defensive side of the ball is just the same.

      I look forward to seeing how much more improved the next years team is going to be. UK had some decent players playing this year and had no choice really but to play them. Now these same players will have a year under their belt and we’ll see if the player development comes to fruition. I just don’t think the last staff got all the talent out of the players. Some excelled, some didn’t and that can be said for every staff, but I’m excited about it….that’s for sure.

  5. Bill

    There is so much I don’t like about getting into an “arms race” to pull in entertainment dollars. But the reality is these dollars go to support the academic and educational needs of the university. There is no question that a successful football program pulls in financial support for the university from fans and alumni. It is what it is in today’s society. The first step was getting competitive in pulling in a top notch HC, and then OC and DC, and assistants. It seems the financial support for this step has been taken. This has had a ripple effect … fan excitement and season ticket sales. As a UK graduate and football fan, I’m excited. But as Stoops has observed, it is a process and will involve a series of steps. We all know there are other steps including recruiting, player development, upgrading the infrastructure, etc. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the moment, and I am.

    1. FootballFan

      UK is already in the arms race, just not in football. This is a great step in re-investing in a sport that makes money.

      1. Love SEC FBall


  6. jauk11

    As far as I am concerned great comments by Ira, I voiced the same concerns about mitch’s waffling at the press conference. Good catch on the President, I didn’t pay as much attention there, but he is correct, not a boost for football at a football event.

    I could care less what improvements they make to Commonwealth, fans will sit on hard seats (or bring their own pads) to watch winning football, I don’t see any great improvement coming to recruiting or the team, maybe more money to be wrung from it. Those “unattainable” improvements have been used for a decade as an excuse for doing NOTHING to improve recruiting or football. The things that are really needed to improve the team, IMO, ARE affordable, a decent recruiting budget, a decent recruiting room, more money for operating expenses for EIGHTY FIVE scholarships than for thirteen basketball scholarships, several more things to show recruits we are serious about football.

    You would think both mitch and UK would realize that their scrimping the past thirteen years has cost UK millions, several million last year alone, part of it directly due to mitch’s attitude. Not just in season ticket cacellations and empty seats, but in contributions to the University itself. I still think part of the reason for the folding chairs STILL being in the “recruiting room” (how long has it been?) is him showing the fans who is boss.

    And, as the empty seats and ticket cancellations last year showed, he just might be wrong about that.

    I love the new staff and the promise they show, an important step in restoring UK football, but UK football will never reach it’s proper heights without finishing the job with some relatively inexpensive expenditures compared to the money they could gain. Unfortunately, as Ira pointed out, the comments from BOTH the main sources of improvements were not positive, they were downright negative.

  7. JCC

    You must have good players to win and you must have good facilities to get good players…egg or chicken?

  8. shinny

    Hang in there guys! All the other “beauties” will come. Players that are impressed by a recruiting room-hmmm? Players will be impressed by the type of play on the field and the coaching staff! Let this staff do there thing (win) and all the rest will follow!!!

  9. TrueBlueJohn

    I don’t know how many times that I fussed about the way our defense lined up this past season. Any time that you have your defensive end inside the tight end, you are inviting a sweep. I saw that alignment so many times, i could have been the OC for the opposing team. I trust that Stoops and Eliot will remedy that, and we will be able to get off the field on 3rd and long a few more times each game. That alone might be the difference in 3 or 4 games. Then if the offense improves like we think it will, it is not beyond the realm of possibility of going back to a bowl next year. There I go getting all optimistic again.

  10. Love SEC FBall

    For once, I agree with all posters above. Ira, You are not Gloom & Doom, You are being realistic. I can sense your excitement from reading your other posts. Both Prez. Cupilutttiiiooo & Mitch could have made a stronger committment.

    What do fans think of when you mention Prez. Cupabalony’s name? Will you remember his comments at the Stoops press Conference? No, we remember his attempt to kill student participation at games. He punished all students, not just the guilty few. He needs to step forward with a new Game-Day plan.

    I agree with the recruiting comments as well. The staff is in place & several have identified a “Recruiting Room” as a priority. Get it done Mitch! You have made a good start with the staff – Let’s keep it going!

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