Kentucky has officially announced the hiring of Neal Brown as the Wildcats' new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, signaling a return of the "Air Raid" offense to Lexington.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to come home to the University that I grew up rooting for, and having played here, have a true personal investment in the program,” Brown said via a UK press release.
“Coach (Mark) Stoops sold me on the job. I’m excited about his plan. He has a great vision about where he wants to take the program and how he wants to do it.”
Brown, 32, is a former UK letterman who was a wide receiver for record-setting quarterback Tim Couch from 1998-2000. He has spent the last three years coordinating a Texas Tech offense that ranked among the nation's elite in passing and total offense.
“Neal is a young, hungry, dynamic coach who has had a lot of success in the Big 12 (Conference),” said UK head coach Mark Stoops said. “I want a style of offense that puts defenses in difficult situations. Also important to me was Neal’s familiarity with the people of Kentucky and the University. When you put together the football and the relationships, it was a no-brainer.”
Kentucky now has both coordinators in place for Stoops, who was introduced as the new head coach on Dec. 2. Former Florida State assistant coach D.J. Eliot will serve as defensive coordinator. Additional staff hirings are expected to be announced this week.
Terms of Brown's deal have yet to be released, but the contract is rumored to pay him close to $600,000.
In each of Brown’s three seasons as offensive coordinator, Texas Tech has ranked among the nation's top 10 in passing offense and top 15 in total offense. The Red Raiders are currently averaging 362 yards per game through the air and 501 total yards per game. They are also 16th nationally in scoring at 37.75 points per game.
Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege (pronounced DAY-gee) has put up eye-popping numbers over the last two seasons. In 2011, Doege threw for 4,004 yards and 28 touchdowns. With one game to play this season, barring injury, Doege is a virtual certainty to surpass the 4,000-yard mark again as he sits on 3,934 yards and 38 TDs.
Brown’s running game has also made significant contributions to the offensive attack. The Red Raiders have rushed for 135.5 yards per game and scored 51 rushing touchdowns during his three seasons. Their primary running backs have averaged 4.95 yards per rushing attempt, including a 5.7 average by Kenny Williams.
Prior to Texas Tech, Brown spent four seasons at Troy University, including the last two as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. During his term at Troy, the Trojans won or shared four consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships and earned three bowl invitations.
At the time the youngest offensive coordinator in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Brown’s 2009 offense finished third in the nation in total offense (485.7 ypg), fourth in passing (336.5 ypg) and 16th in scoring (33.7 ppg). In 2008, his first as coordinator, Brown’s fast-paced offense set 10 school records.
Brown went to Troy after serving one season as wide receivers coach at the University of Delaware. In 2003, he was the tight ends coach and offensive line assistant at UMass.
Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in business management and his master’s in business administration from UMass, where he played the 2001-02 seasons after transferring from UK. He totaled 58 receptions for 721 yards and four touchdowns while being named to the Atlantic-10 All-Academic Team and the NCAA Division I-AA Athletic Directors’ Academic All-Star Team.
Brown was an all-state wide receiver at Boyle County High School in Danville, finishing his career as the No. 2 pass catcher in state history. He and his wife, Brooke, have two daughters, Adalyn and Anslee.