By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he understood why it took offensive coordinator Neal Brown some extra time to say yes to UK’s offer while he was evaluating potential head coaching positions at Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi.
“It was definitely getting a little hairy for me. It was. And that was to no fault of Neal’s. It was just the situation that it was,” Stoops said. “I guess that was my first test as a head coach. Obviously I’ve been an assistant my whole life and wanted to be supportive of Neal. I understand what he’s going through.
“We hadn’t named him yet or anything to the media, so we just thought we’d ride that out and see where he was at, and of course Neal was chomping at the bit to be here and be a part of the program. It got a little nerve wracking, both with him and coach Eliot. Those guys put me through it a little bit.”
Brown said Stoops’ patience made a big impression on him.
“That really told me what kind of guy he was. He said go through the process. When he said, ‘Hey, I’ve been in your shoes…’ A lot of times coordinators step into that head coaching position and everything changes, they forget what it was like to be a coordinator,” Brown said. “Here is a guy that’s going and getting pulled in a lot of different directions, and when he said that I remember getting off the phone and I told my wife, I said, ‘This is a good guy. This is a good person. This is a guy that understand what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis. I can work for him. I want to work for him.’ It played a major role (in coming to Kentucky).”