Sports - Kentucky

Jul 6, 2010 5:58 PM by Alan Cutler

Neal Brown's Wild Ride To Texas Tech

When you look at the cast of coaching characters, many who have been involved with each other and can't stand each other, yet they have in their own way really helped Neal Brown.

It is remarkable that he is not only the youngest offensive coordinator in college football, but at the ripe of old age of 29, made it to Texas Tech.

That age thing, which is brought up a lot can add pressure.

"I think there was pressure at the start when I first got the job at Troy," says Brown.

"My wife asked me the same question the other day. I could be the oldest guy that's coordinating. I'll take the youngest. It probably doesn't help that I look 5 or 6 years younger than my actual age. So that probably doesn't help but I don't think it matters anymore. It was something I was conscious of in 2008 when I first got the job at Troy but now its not something that matters. I feel like I've proven myself. We had the 16th or 17th best offense in '08 and the third best offense in '09. So it's not something that I'm conscious of. But, I'm grateful. Hopefully I can keep it. The only thing I'd like to do is slow the clock down."

The Boyle Co. High Hall of Famer leaves UK in 2000 for U Mass. After his days as a wide out are over, his coach at U Mass, Mark Whipple offers Neal a graduate assistants job.

"I said, I really don't know what I want to do, so I wanted to do that."

Breaks yes, but give Brown credit for being smart.

His head coach at UK, Hal Mumme has always been in Brown's corner. Still is.

"He's been a big influence. Obviously learning the system giving me an opportunity at Kentucky. I always rate people like this. If you call them how quick if you leave a message, how quick are they to call you back. And he's always quick to call you back. If I ever need anything in terms of Coach Mumme, can you call me back, he's always done that. He's a guy if I need to make a decision, I always give him a call."

Tony Franklin became an enemy of Hal Mumme during their time together at UK. Franklin becomes offensive coordinator at Troy and hires Neal, who replaced Franklin when he went to Auburn.

Franklin who goes to Auburn as offensive coordinator at Auburn gets fired by head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Tuberville pushed out at Auburn resurfaces at Texas Tech and is instructed to keep the wide open offense that former UK assistant Mike Leach, another friend of Brown, built at Texas Tech. So, Tuberville surprises many by hiring Brown. Brown was shocked when Texas Tech was interested.

"No question. You just never know in this business and of course I never thought Coach Leach wouldn't be there. Obviously he had a really good run. And with Coach Tuberville with the past, Coach Franklin, I didn't know how it would work out but it's kind of been a blessing. I'm obviously excited about being there. We've got some good players and playing in a good conference and they know how to win so obviously I'm thankful how it worked out."

Brown believes that you can put him in any college town in America, and his team will score points. In spite of that, he deflects his success to his players.

"Obviously we believe in that offense. We've had good success. At the end of the day it comes down to players. When Coach Mumme was here we had some pretty good players. At Troy we had some pretty good players. And obviously Coach Leach had some good players at Tech. I think the system gives them a chance, but it comes down to players. I think it's easy or hard, depending on who you are playing. "

That philosophy will take Brown to his next goal, becoming a head coach.

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