Accepting the offensive coordinator position at Kentucky was more than a business decision for Neal Brown.
While the move from Texas Tech also comes with a hefty salary that will make him one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the Southeastern Conference, the former Boyle County standout and UK wide receiver was not simply looking to climb the career ladder.
"This state and this university are special to me," Brown said Tuesday during an introductory press conference at Commonwealth Stadium. "This isn't just another job to me. This is personal. I grew up a fan of this football program, played here, have a personal investment in that aspect.
"(UK head coach Mark Stoops) didn't have to sell me. I've been sold on Kentucky football my whole life."
Brown, who played for the Wildcats from 1998-2000, always envisioned coming back to coach in Lexington someday.
"I wanted it to be in the right situation," he said. "I believe this is the right situation, 100 percent. I am excited about working with Mitch Barnhart. He is fully committed to making Kentucky football a winner on and off the field. We have done it before, and we are going to do it again. I am really excited about working with coach (Mark) Stoops. He has a plan and a vision where he wants to take Kentucky football. He is a high-energy guy, great recruiter, great defensive mind, and we are going to add the offensive element and accomplish what he wants to get done."
Brown brings a potent offensive scheme back to UK that he learned as a player under Hal Mumme. His Texas Tech offense ranked No. 2 nationally in passing yards per game (361.9) and 12th in total offense (501.4) this season. The Red Raiders were also No. 18 in scoring offense at 37.75 points per game.
While fans will recognize some elements of the old Mumme "Air Raid" attack, Brown says he has tweaked the system during his coaching stints at Troy and Texas Tech.
"The base plays… those plays are the same," Brown said. "Those base plays are really the same plays you are seeing at West Virginia being highly successful, at Texas Tech. Oklahoma State is using those same plays. Oklahoma is using those base plays. Those base plays really haven't changed since 1997 when coach Mumme brought those to big-time college football.
"Now, what we have done is we have made a concerted effort to run the football. We are playing at a faster pace, and we dress those plays up with motions and different formations. Those are the things the fans are going to notice."
Brown's Texas Tech offense averaged a solid 139.5 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry during the 2012 season. The Red Raiders rushed for 14 scores, an element that wasn't always present in the "red zone" with Mumme's squads at UK.
"You have to run the football and in this league," Brown said. "… You have to keep defenses off balance. We are not going to be in a position to drop back and throw the ball 50-60 times. If you look at the top of the draft there are a lot of defensive linemen coming from the SEC. We've got to mix in the run and we have been creative with that."
One of the first decisions that Brown will have to make this spring is who will lead his first offense at quarterback. The Wildcats return three players who made starts in 2012 – Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles.
"It's a good problem," Brown said. "And it's really not a problem, it's a situation. We've got three guys who can play quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. It is going to be an open competition… All three guys will split the reps a third in spring practice, carry that competition into the fall camp, and see who the best man is."
Don't expect a difficult transition this spring.
"It's really a simple system," Brown said. "The first three days of spring practice we'll install the whole system. It's a system that the quarterbacks will be able to learn in a two-to-three week period (in January) while I'm gone recruiting. They can watch some videos and really have a good idea of what we want to do when I get back."
Brown: UK job is 'personal'
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