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 since Stoops got the job. The former Florida State defensive coordinator made it clear at his introductory press conference that he planned to have a wide-open offense.
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 who run similar type offenses that Brown has used first at Troy and then at Texas Tech.
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 likely would bring two former Wildcats, Chad Scott and John Schlarman, with him to coach running backs and offensive line. Both have ties to the area — Schlarman is from northern Kentucky, Scott is married to a former UK basketball player. Both are also much younger than any assistant coach Phillips had on his staff
Another plus for Kentucky would be that 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 but has had past success.
I'm not sure if Brown would make more money 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 whether the Southern Miss head job was offered Saturday or today — he was one of six to interview for the spot — and what will the offer was. Sources indicate Brown and Stoops have agreed that a decision needs to be made today.
Coming to UK would bring Brown and his family back home. That would put his wife and daughters closer to family and friends. However, the down side of coming home is that the criticism that goes along with being a coordinator at any Division I¿program could get a bit personal for family and friends. Brown certainly understands critics — especially with today’s social media — are part of the college football landscape. But will his family and friends?
I might be leaning a bit more today to thinking he will be at UK next year — and that has nothing to do with the surprising news Saturday that Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is leaving to become head coach at Cincinnait. I just think Brown had already decided this was the right time for him to move on.
You have to admire Stoops' patience in this process with Brown. Most head coaches would have demanded an answer by now and not been so willing to let Brown have a chance to pursue a head coahcing opportunity. That won't be lost on Brown because that’s the type of head coach anyone would want to work for and with.
I think the opportunity to come home will also be hard for Brown to pass up, but then again so will the chance to be the head coach at age 32 if Southern Miss does offer.
However, this is a win-win for Brown. How many other 32-year-old coaches would like to be debating between becoming a Division I¿head coach or a SEC coordinator? That’s why he can’t make a bad choice no matter how this plays out today.