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Tim Couch Was Ready To Leave Kentucky For Tennessee Before Hal Mumme Arrived

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Former quarterback Tim Couch was part of the search process that brought Mark Stoops to UK and he likes everything Stoops has done. Former quarterback Tim Couch was part of the search process that brought Mark Stoops to UK and he likes everything Stoops has done.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Quarterback Tim Couch played three years at Kentucky after a record-setting career at Leslie County High School and became one of the most popular players ever to play for the Wildcats.

However, if UK had not fired coach Bill Curry after his freshman year, he would never have stayed at UK and became the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns and got UK to the Outback Bowl his final season. 

“I actually was not very excited about playing for Bill Curry,” Couch, who threw for 132 touchdowns and over 12,000 yards at Leslie County said. “They had won one game the year before I signed. I had other offers. I had actually committed to Tennessee.

“Rather than have a falling out with my dad, I told him if he wanted me to go to Kentucky that bad, I would do it for a year and see what happens. I had every (national high school) passing record and he (Curry) wanted me to run the option. I get on campus and the first play we put in was the option. It did not go well. It was probably the worst year of my life.

“I was in the wrong system. I was going to transfer and go to Tennessee. I decided I would give it one year but I was going to leave.”

He waited for then athletics director C.M. Newton to find a new coach. Newton brought in Hal Mumme, a coach who fit Couch’s style perfectly. Couch thrived under Mumme and became the first pick in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns in 1999. He threw for over 11,000 yards and helped the Browns get into the playoffs before a series of injuries ended his career after five seasons.

Couch knows he was blessed with the talent to throw a football like few others could. However, he also believes his work ethic contributed to his success. 

”Ask any teammate and they will tell you I was one of hardest working guys on the team. I always took my job very seriously,” Couch said. “I was always studying film, working out, throwing with teammates. I would always stay after practice and throw all I could. I put in the time it took to be the player I wanted to be. Work ethic is what separates players and what allowed me to be so successful at each level I played.”
Couch worked for about six years as a college football analyst after his retirement from the NFL. Now he’s going to be back on TV as one of the analysts for the Cleveland preseason games. Ironically, the Browns just selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick in the draft just like they did with Couch in 1999.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity and looking forward to doing some TV work again,” Couch said.

Couch is also excited about what lies ahead for coach Mark Stoops at Kentucky. He got to know Stoops during the search process and loves the way he has embraced former UK players. He wants them at practice. He wants them on the sideline before games. 

“Everything Mark said during the search process, he has far exceeded that. I don’t think we could have a better coach for the program,” Couch said. “I really expect great things for this program going forward.”

If that happens, one of Couch’s former UK teammates will deserve a huge amount of credit as well. Offensive line coach John Schlarman was a starter at UK during Couch’s time and protected the quarterback much better than the offensive line protection Couch got once he went to the Cleveland Browns.

“He was a tough guy. He was exactly the way he coaches now — hard nosed, hard worker, knew what he was doing every play, intelligent player,” Couch said. “I rarely got hit at Kentucky. We would get rid of ball quickly and Schlarman was one of the very best at protecting me. It’s no surprise to me his offensive line has been so good, and will still get better. He’s a great coach.”

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