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By LARRY VAUGHT
It looks like Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown, a former Boyle County High School three-sport standout, has options to weigh after his offense averaged 501 yards and 37.8 points per game and ranked among the nation’s top 15 offenses last season.
He’s been the No. 1 target for new UK coach Mark Stoops as an offensive coordinator. Stoops made it clear at his introductory press conference that he planned to have a wide-open offense. Remember that Mike Leach was the first offensive coordinator that Bob Stoops hired at Oklahoma. Also don’t forget that Mike Stoops hired Sonny Dykes to run his offense when he was head coach at Arizona. So it is easy to see why Mark Stoops would like a coordinator such as Brown based on the success his brothers had with Leach and Dykes.
Brown also would bring youth to the staff. He’s 32. Stoops is only 45 and just named D.J. Eliot, 36, as his defensive coordinator. That’s a radical change from the age range of the coaches Joker Phillips had on his staff last year. Not saying that younger is always better, but younger coaches can relate to players in way that those of us 50 and older cannot.
Brown would also give Stoops and UK a recruiting connection in Texas since that is where he has primarily recruited the last three years. He also has ties to the South through his time at Troy.
However, all those reasons have also made Brown a viable candidate for the head coaching job at Southern Mississippi, a team that went 0-12 last year.
I’m not sure if Brown would make more as a head coach or as the offensive coordinator at UK. But I’m told any contractual concerns his agent had with Kentucky have all been resolved.
Now it comes down to will the Southern Miss head job be offered and what will the offer be. Sources indicate Brown likely will have an answer from Southern Miss by Saturday and that Stoops will have an answer from Brown no later than Sunday morning.
Coming to UK would bring Brown and his family back home. It also likely would bring two former Wildcats, Chad Scott and John Schlarman , with him to coach running backs and offensive line. But he would also likely take both with him to Southern Miss, or try to take them.
What will happen? Still not sure, but believe I might be leaning a bit more today to thinking he will be at UK next year. You have to admire Stoops’ patience in this process with Brown and that won’t be lost on Brown. I think the opportunity to come home will also be hard to pass up.