This is the news we have all been waiting for, and by far the biggest football news since Mark Stoops accepted the position of Kentucky's 37th head coach. Neal Brown, former player under Hal Mumme and teammate of Tim Couch, is apparently ready to accept the position of offensive coordinator at Kentucky:
Former Kentucky wide receiver Neal Brown, who ran the nation's No. 2 passing offense this past season at Texas Tech, is expected to be named offensive coordinator at Kentucky on Monday.
Coachingsearch.com first reported Sunday night that Brown had accepted an offer to join Mark Stoops staff at Kentucky.
Brown's offense at Texas Tech was 2nd in the nation in passing offense, 12th in total offense and 16th in scoring offense. Brown is a disciple of the "Air Raid" offense, which means for the second time in two decades, we'll be seeing the offense popularized by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach at Kentucky.
This is quite possibly the best possible hire that Stoops could have made, which is likely why no other names were really being actively discussed in the press, although I'm sure Stoops had a plan B and higher if Brown had gone on to a head coaching gig. There were reportedly several schools interested in interviewing Brown for the top spot.
There is speculation that the deal to bring Brown to UK would make him the highest-paid coordinator in the SEC, which is a staggering thought when you consider Kentucky's modest position on the football coaching pay scale in the league throughout the years. Those who wanted Mitch Barnhart to throw money at the problem of Kentucky football in order to bring in a big-time staff are apparently getting their wish.
Brown attended Boyle County high school in Kentucky, and played at UK for 2 years, 1998-2000, before transferring to UMass. Brown has previously coached wide receivers at Umass, Sacred Heart, Delaware and Troy. He became the offensive coordinator at Troy before being hired as OC by Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech.
What this means for Kentucky is a change back to "basketball on grass," and fortunately, the Wildcats seem to have the right mix of offensive players to pull off this switch. In case you may have forgotten what the Air Raid is, it is an extremely pass-heavy offense that mostly substitutes short passes for handoffs. The Air Raid is a little bit like the spread option in that it tries to get atletes the ball in space, and it borrows some stuff from the spread such as line spacing, but in execution, it is vastly different.
This blog post has an excellent exposition of the Air Raid and how it is supposed to work, as well as a good history of the offense's conception and modification by Mumme and the other early proponents of the scheme. Having not seen Neal Brown's offense that much at Texas Tech, I'm trying to get more information from people in the know about it, and we'll hopefully have more later.
At this point, let's all welcome Coach Brown back to his old Kentucky home. For the first time in many years, I can hardly wait for next year's football season.