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Neal Brown Press Conference

Posted: Dec 18, 2012 5:26 PM

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Neal Brown Press Conference Transcript

Opening statement ...

"Thanks for coming. It's good to be back and see some familiar and friendly faces. Hopefully you will still be friendly in 10 months or so. My wife and I are excited to be back. I am proud to have this position. It has been a humbling experience. I wish we had a game this Saturday because the excitement about football in the Big Blue Nation about football is at an all-time high. I really believe that. This state and this university are special to me. This isn't just another job to me. This is personal. I grew up a fan of this football program; played here, have a personal investment in that aspect and a supporter. I have been a season ticket holder the last five or six years. I am excited about this opportunity. This is an opportunity that I wanted to do, no question. I wanted it to be in the right situation. I believe this is the right situation 100 percent. I am excited about working with Mitch Barnhart. He is fully committed to making Kentucky football a winner on and off the field. We have done it before and we are going to do it again. I am really excited about working with coach (Mark) Stoops. He has a plan and a vision where he wants to take Kentucky football. He is a high-energy guy, great recruiter, great defensive mind and we are going to add the offensive element and accomplish what he wants to get done."

On his relationship with Mark Stoops ...

"We kind of knew each other in passing a little bit. In the coaching world, you always cross paths in the recruiting trail and those sorts of things. We never really had a personal relationship. We had some guys that we were really close to, in guys like Sonny Dykes who he had worked (with), and obviously I had played for too and had a strong friendship with. But, I think what drew us near was he had coached against this offense. He had been the defensive coordinator at Arizona with Sonny there calling plays in this offense. Obviously, we have played against Bob (Stoops) there the last three years, and he wanted an exciting brand of offense and I think that is kind of what got us in this situation."

On why he thinks Kentucky football can be successful ...

"It has been done. The thing about it is, this program has had a couple of down years, but in recent history, it has also gone through its strongest winning years. Here is the deal; the SEC is a tough conference. There is no question. It is the toughest conference in America. I am coming from a conference where it is not chopped liver. Week in and week out it is tough, and if you look at the rankings, I think that will back it up. The opportunity to come home with these people, with the support Kentucky is going to have and turn this thing around, we are going to turn it around."

On the school's commitment to football ...

"Mitch (Barnhart) is fully committed to football, and I think the financial commitment he made with the staff shows it. Mark Stoops is a guy I believe in. I think those were the two biggest things in my mind."

On how hard Mark Stoops had to sell him to come to Kentucky ...

"Not a whole lot. The thing about it is, anything you get presented with a situation in this profession, and it has to be the right situation for your family. I think that was probably as big of a thing as anything. He didn't have to sell me. I have been sold on Kentucky football my whole life."

On similarities with the Air Raid offense from the 1990s ...

"The base plays that you (saw) on Saturday afternoons when coach (Hal) Mumme was here, those plays are the same. Those base plays are really the same plays you are seeing at West Virginia being highly successful, at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State is using those same plays, Oklahoma is using those base plays. Those base plays really haven't changed since 1997 when coach Mumme brought those to big-time college football. Now, what we have done is we have made a concerted effort to run the football. We are playing at a faster pace and we dress those plays up with motions and different formations. Those are the things the fans are going to notice."

On having three quarterbacks with experience in the SEC ...

"It's a good problem. And it's really not a problem, it's a situation. We've got three guys who can play quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. It is going to be an open competition. I met with those guys on Monday of last week, and all three guys are good people, very interesting guys, excited about a fresh start and it's going to be a fresh start not only for them, but all of the guys on our football team. I am only controlling the offense, but it's a fresh start. The way we are going to handle it is it is going to be an open competition. All three guys will split the reps a third in spring practice, carry that competition into the fall camp and see who the best man is."

On if he's looked at the receivers on video ...

"Not a whole lot. Really been focused more on the recruiting end than the current personnel. During this dead period in recruiting, I'll probably start peeking at those guys. I think you've got to be careful of not watching too much, because it's a different system, you don't know what the players, where they were at that point in their career and all those type of things, injuries. So I'll peek at them just to have an idea, but I'm not going to get carried away watching a whole lot of the last couple years."

On having assistant coaches Chad Scott and John Schlarman come with him ...

"Well, they're coming here with me, but they were sold on Coach Stoops also. They've got a strong investment in this program. I think it's always important when you go into a new situation to have people that are familiar not only with you personally but with what you want to do. And anytime you're in a little bit of a rebuilding situation, things are happening fast and things need to be done, and those two guys, they know how I want things done. I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time teaching them the offense or teaching them how I want things done. They know what I want done. They can take it and run with it."

On putting on the UK logo again ...

"It was exciting. I went on my first recruiting trip on Tuesday, and to put on the UK letters and stuff - this is the first time I've been back in 12 years. I really haven't spent much time at all in Lexington. I've gone to a basketball game here and there, but really haven't been in the city, around the university a lot. I've followed the program. But when I put that on - this is an easy sell for me. This is a great place to go to school. The fan base is incredible. So it's a really easy sell for me, and when I put that back on, it felt like home."

On Tim Couch's role in hiring process ...

"Tim and I have a good relationship. Obviously, we played together. I hope it helped. Obviously when he didn't return a phone call or two during the search process I had an idea that he may be involved so I kind of left him alone. I think it helped. It never hurts to have one of the best players in school history on your side, that's for sure."

On his input in offensive brain trust he brought back ...

"Coach Stoops has been around this offense for a long time. If you go back to 1998 when Bob hired Mike Leach that was probably Mark's introduction to this offense, too, and that ended up in a national championship in a couple of years for those guys. So when we started talking about this opportunity here at Kentucky he wanted to know, he knew it was important up front for us to have some guys who already knew the system and those were in place. Really, it was up to him to make those final hires. I made some suggestions I thought would be good fits here. Obviously with Chad playing here, being recruited here, his wife (former Shambrica Jones) being a very good basketball (player) - better athlete than him by the way - here those things helped. John was a great player here, an All-SEC (lineman), from one of the strongest high school programs in the state, a lot of family connections here, not only in his family but (also) his wife's. Those things were strong considerations for Coach Stoops when he made those hires."

On Texas Tech video he's told recruits to watch ...

"The first thing was Texas Tech media relations did a great job of making me look good there. That's a deal that we used a lot. We self-promoted a lot there and used videos a lot and those types of things. They did a good job, a lot of credit goes to Curt Heard, he's the one that produced it. We used it at Texas Tech to sell (the program), used it through social media on our Twitter, Facebook and those types of things. Kids really relate to those. It's one thing to talk about and tell people, ‘Hey, this is what we're going to do, and listen to it vocally and show it to them on the board and all that kind of stuff but when they see it with their eyes and hear, ‘Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown' a lot then they can feel the excitement in it."

On how complex the offense is ...

"It's really a simple system. The first three days of spring practice we'll install the whole system. It's a system that the quarterbacks will be able to learn in a two-to-three week period while I'm gone recruiting. They can watch some videos and really have a good idea of what we want to do when I get back."

On why it works so well ...

"I think what it does is the tempo really affects people. The tempo really affects people. The second that happens is, when you spread the field out, there's a bigger - and I'm trying to think of the best way to put this - the skill people are easier to recruit. There's not a great deal of difference in the number one wide receiver in the country and the number 25 receiver in the country. There's not that much difference at all. We can recruit a lot of good skill people, put them in space and make people tackle in space. I think that's the number one thing."

On whether he has any ideas about the wide receivers coach ...

"That's kind of a work in progress. Coach Stoops put together a great staff so far. I think we need two guys to hire still and it's really going to be a work in progress. I think we're going to interview some guys down at the national convention whenever that is. I don't even know. I've been going a hundred miles per hour."

On Stoops telling him to pursue head coaching opportunities before taking the UK job ...

"That really told me what kind of guy he was. He said, ‘Go through the process,' and he said, ‘Hey, I've been in your shoes.' I think a lot of times coordinators step in that head coaching position and everything changes. They forget what it was like to be a coordinator. Here's a guy that's being pulled in a lot of different directions and when he said that I remember getting off the phone, I told my wife, ‘This is a good guy. This is a good person. This is a guy that understands what we're doing on a day-to-day basis.' I said, ‘I can work for him. I want to work for him.' It played a major role."

On the reaction from his family when he was going through the hiring process ...
"They didn't know a whole lot. They were kind of kept on the outside really. They are excited, they are really excited. There is a little bit of hesitation at first, not on my end at all, but my whole family is UK fans. They grew up Kentucky fans. They have had a lot of season tickets. They are UK fans, whether I am here or not, they are UK fans. There was a little bit of hesitation from a coaching prospective because I have been gone other places. At Texas Tech I was 16 hours away. You guys know how the profession is, you have created some of the things in the profession so you know how it is, but there is a lot of pressure and that is the way it should be really. This is a big-dollar business and there is a lot of pressure. They were isolated from that when I was away, but now it is going to be at their front door. Those are things, when it got serious, were the discussions I had with my family and my wife's family just to make sure they understand. They do and they are fired up about it."

On what instruction he gave the quarterbacks heading into the winter break ...
"Let's get better. That is simple. I said, ‘Hey, I am not going to spend a whole lot of time watching what you did before. There are going to be some fundamental things that are non-negotiable that we are going to do. Y'all are going to start on the same level playing field, best man wins.' I don't have any ties to any of the three of them. I am going to coach them like they are my own and like I recruited them and the whole deal. The best man is going to play. Then you have to be good teammates. Those are the brief discussions I had with them. They are really good kids. All three of them are doing well academically and all three are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the weight room. I will say this as a whole, I can only speak to my side of the ball, but the first couple of things you always do when you go into a new situation is you try to see if there have been any off-field issues, which there have been very, very few. You want to see where the group stands academically and this group is in great shape academically. That is a strong sentiment to the last coaching staff."

On what the reception has been from recruits the last week ...

"They are excited. I think any time you go into a new situation and you have something to fall back on. We had a lot of success at Texas Tech and at Troy, when you are talking about skill players in particular, and you can talk about how you are going to get them the ball and show them and you can show stats and proven results, that is going to pop their eyes open. In certain spots our scholarship numbers are low and the opportunity to play early is going to be here. That is another thing that perks their ears up."

On him not being a highly touted recruit and now having success and if he sales that to recruits now ...
"I was very average. I better get better players than I was, I can promise you. What I sell is hard work and being prepared. That is the bigger message that I sell. I tell everyone that I come in contact with that I was a very average player. I think that average players make very good coaches sometimes because you have to figure out a way to be successful. I am not selling them on myself as much. When I talk to people, I sell them on our vision and the No. 1 thing we talk about is that our stadium will have 70,000 people in it. It will. There is a lot of excitement and our fan base is strong. It is going to be an exciting brand of football. It is a young coaching staff that can relate to players. Those are the things that we are really selling here early in the process."

On if Kentucky can recruit the state of Texas in the future ...

"Texas has great football players. I don't know if that will be a ‘home state' for us in recruiting. But I think we can go in there and pluck a couple of players each year."

On what impact Tony Franklin had on his career ...
"Well, he gave me a chance at Troy. I was in the I-AA ranks at Delaware and he got the job at Troy and hired me. I will always be grateful for that. He's a guy that had a lot of influence and helped get me here (Kentucky) as a player. He has had as much responsibility as anybody about where I am at in the coaching ranks so far."

On the type of offense UK has run the past few seasons and how much adjusting he will have to do to the new system ...

"They (Kentucky) were spread the first two or three games, if my memory recollects, until Max (Smith) got hurt they had a lot of spread principles in there. We are going to fit our system to the players we got. This is the message I had for our offensive coaches: we have got to go get recruits, no question, but our biggest recruiting deal is getting the guys we have sold on our system and maximizing the guys that we have on campus right now. Those are going to be the biggest players for us in the fall."

On if the players have been receptive so far to him and the other coaches ...
"Well, it was finals week, so I got to meet several of the offensive kids on Monday and we met as a group on Monday. They are eager. These guys want to be successful and I think a lot of it shows. I watched a little bit of that last game there against Tennessee and those guys played with great effort. It wasn't a lack of effort. They want to be successful."

On the running game in his system ...
"You have to run the football and in this league; you definitely have to run the football. You have to keep defenses off balance. We are not going to be in a position to drop back and throw the ball 50-60 times. If you look at the top of the draft there are a lot of defensive linemen coming from the SEC. We've got to mix in the run and we have been creative with that. We ran the ball very well at the start of last year until we lost some people at Tech. The other thing it does is it makes it easier for your defense because it keeps the defense off the field. Those things are important."

On how going 100 MPH and how fast they will be able to get the program back on track ...
"Those are things I haven't sat down and thought about a whole lot. It has been a whirlwind. Somebody said we are seven days from Christmas right now and I am going back to Texas tomorrow and I will see my little girls and I will be reminded very instantly about that when I get off the plane. As far as the turnaround, it is hard to say until I can go out there and work with the guys. This system has been successful everywhere we have been. We have been able to turn some teams that weren't very good on offense around quickly. How quickly it can be done, I don't know. It will be done, but it is going to take some work though for sure."

On how often the quarterback will be under center...

"We had a great quarterback at Texas Tech the last two years. The most nerve-wracking play that I have had was when he got under center because he wasn't very good at it. So the good thing here is all three of these guys have spent a lot of time under center last year, so we'll definitely incorporate that into our system in the spring."

On the attributes of a great quarterback running his system...

"Off the field things are the number one thing, He's got to be a man of character. He's got to be a tremendous leader. He's got to work tremendously hard. Second thing, he's got to be a good decision-maker. These are football aspects now. He's got to be a good decision-maker and he's got to be accurate with the football. Those are the top two priorities. That's what we'll instill in the three guys that are here, and from a recruiting standpoint here on out, those are the two top priorities we look for."

On the changes he's noticed in facilities...

"They are definitely better than when I was a player here, I can tell you that. We have the facilities to be successful. There's obviously some things that (Athletics Director) Mitch (Barnhart) probably wants to get done. Those are above my pay grade. I don't really spend a whole lot of time worrying about it to be honest with you."

On the offensive line and the center position...

"Can we get Larry (Warford) another year? There's two young guys that got some time there last year. We'll also maybe look at moving a guy that snapped a little bit during high school. We've had those discussions. I'm really excited about some of those young guys who are on the O-line. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but other than those two guys, most of the big guys that played last year are young kids. Darrian Miller, I think he can be a tremendous left tackle in this league. The (Jordan) Swindle kid is a guy I'm really excited about. He played a lot of football as a true freshman. But the center position, we ask him to do a lot also. He makes a lot of calls. We take a lot off of the quarterback and put it on the center. So that will be a top priority in the spring."

On looking at JUCO players...

"It's early. It's hard because we're late coming into the process. Recruiting is really different now. It's an 18-24 month relationship building, and we're really coming in on the back end. We're going to be able to flip some kids for sure. It's hard because junior college kids' signing day is tomorrow. So you're really talking about a week to try and get a guy to flip. So we probably won't go that route."

On the role of new assistant Chad Scott...

"It's really going to be determined on what we do with that last (assistant position). He's a guy that's got some versatility. He's been a running back coach most of his career. He spent a lot of time with our wide receivers at Texas Tech also. We're just trying to wait and see. We're going to hire the best possible guy for that last spot on our offense."

On his sales pitch to keep Kentucky players in state ...

"Come be a hero. You look at the guys that play well at the University of Kentucky that are homegrown products. They come back here to live, and they have good lives. Some of the guys that have gone on at other places, they come back home and the name recognition and notoriety is not the same. The other thing is, if you build this football program, if you're a Tim Couch, an Andre Woodson, if you're those types of kids, and those are just quarterbacks. I can go into position players too. And you're at a place where you have a personal investment, where you grew up a fan. Because we all know in here that most kids in this state grow up to be Kentucky fans. They wear blue from an early age. I was one of them. I can tell you that. If you can do that at the state school, then it's going to be a special thing. And to do it, there's a good opportunity that you're going to stay employed for a long time here."

On keeping an eye on Kentucky from afar...

"I was proud. I was really proud of what they were able to do. My grandfather who has since passed, I can remember we were celebrating his 90th birthday. We had a bye week at Troy and I was down in Mayfield celebrating. We were having a surprise birthday party that we actually delayed because Kentucky and LSU went into overtime, right? So we actually delayed the start of the party. We actually had to drive him around a little bit so that people at the house could finish watching the game. So a tremendous amount of excitement and energy. I always kept up with it. I wasn't here on a daily basis, but I always kept up with it. And that was an exciting time for sure, especially because Jacob Tamme, right there in Danville, was playing a big role in that. I was probably following it closer than I had the last couple of years."

On not being surprise by UK's bowl streak...

"No, not surprised at all. Not surprised at all because, again, the fan base is so strong. Kentucky basketball gets a lot of notoriety, and it should. I'm as big of Kentucky basketball fan as you're going to see. I've been to the Final Fours, all that kind of stuff. But Friday nights in the state are huge. Deep down, and I tried to tell people when I was in Texas and Alabama and those type places, I try to explain to them that high school football is huge in the state of Kentucky. There is a tremendous amount of support for our football program and football in general in this state. That gives you a chance to build a successful program. Coach (Rich) Brooks built on that and that's something that Coach Stoops is going to do also."

Topics: neal brown, kentucky football, offensive coordinator

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