By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown has sensed the excitement UK football fans have after the hiring of new coach Mark Stoops and the staff he has assembled even thought UK is coming off a 2-10 season, it’s third straight losing year.
“I am not surprised by the excitement. I grew up here. I watched when coach (Hal) Mumme came in here with (assistants) Mike Leach and Tony Franklin and Sonny Dykes and Chris Hatcher and those guys. I watched the state become football crazy,” Brown said. “Then the support when (coach Rich) Brooks got it going really strong here was great and the support at the (Music City) bowl game was unbelievable. So I am not surprised at all by the excitement.
“This is a state that likes football and supports football at the high school level and always supports UK. Look at the attendance all these years and you can tell that. We need to maintain that excitement and need to maintain it year round. We need to do a good job getting fans involved at the spring game.”
Brown isn’t worried about a schedule that will include Sugar Bowl winner Louisville, Western Kentucky and new coach Bobby Petrino, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and other SEC rivals.
“All the pressure is internal. We get so focused on the next thing whether it is recruiting, spring practice or something else that you really don’t have time to think about the pressure aspect,” Brown said. “There was some adjustment for me schedule-wise when I went from Troy to the Big 12. There will be some adjustments in other areas here but one thing I will not have to adjust to is that you have to come to play every game. If you do not come to play, you will not only get beat, you will get embarrassed. That aspect from the Big 12 to the SEC will not change. That’s a life I have been living the last few years.”
Brown said having a three-year contract — defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot does also — shows the commitment UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart and the administration has to football.
“They are committed to building a program and not making it just a quick fix. That is what the presentation of a three-year contract meant to me. It shows a long term commitment to everyone connected to the program,” Brown said.