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Monday marked the official arrival of Neal Brown to Lexington, his second tour of duty with the University of Kentucky football program. Brown was a wide receiver for three seasons under Hal Mumme before transferring to Massachusetts for his senior season. UK introduced him as its new offensive coordinator via press release on Monday afternoon, fulling a promise Mark Stoops made at his introductory press conference to run an entertaining offense that will throw the football.
Stoops called the hire a no-brainer — thanks to advice from Tim Couch — in the release: “Neal is a young, hungry, dynamic coach who has had a lot of success in the Big 12 (Conference). 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.”
Brown joins the Wildcats staff after three seasons at Texas Tech, where his offense ranked in the nation’s top-10 teams in passing offense, top-15 in total offense and top-25 in scoring offense, all three years. He said he is excited to bring his style of play to Kentucky, the school he grew up rooting for.
“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. “Coach 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.”
Cue the Air Ride sirens.
Neal Brown will be joined by two fellow former Wildcats on Stoops’ new staff, although announcements weren’t made on Monday. Former UK offensive lineman John Schlarman (1993-1997) will take over Mike Summers’ duties with the o-line; while former UK running back Chad Scott (2000) will coach the backs. Scott joined the Texas Tech staff with Brown in 2010.
Schlarman will have big shoes to feel with the offensive line. I’ve had conversations with UK linemen (both past and present) who were hoping to see Summers retained with the new regime. He is very popular with the guys and many of them credit him for turning them into solid football players. Don’t be surprised if Bobby Petrino, who Summers spent seven seasons under before moving back to Kentucky, hires him on the Hilltoppers’ staff.
Clay Travis was at the Bobby Petrino press conference in Bowling Green and he asked a question about the series with Kentucky, as only Clay Travis could. He asked WKU athletic director Todd Stewart if he had any buyout offers from UK since hiring Petrino. I think it was supposed to be a joke. I think. Stewart thanked Rich Brooks and Mitch Barnhart for setting up the four-game series.
While college football is filling up the newswire in the state of Kentucky, John Calipari is pushing his basketball team harder and harder each day to be the best they can be. Last week, he told us he planned to turn up the intensity and add more conditioning. We caught a glimpse of that in an exclusive video on CoachCal.com from inside one of the new practices. Cal told his players, “This is a simple game. This isn’t, ‘I’m going to prove that you’re wrong.’ Because who’s going to win every battle? I’m going to win every battle.”
Kentucky was absent from the AP college basketball top 25 poll for the second week in a row when the rankings were updated on Monday. The Cats received 44 votes, good enough for 28th, after finishing 26th last week with 186 votes. The Cats did, however, hang on in the USA Today poll at No. 22, three spots lower than last week.
In recruiting news, Andrew Wiggins’ decision is forever away, but his head coach told Scout.com that Wiggins will visit Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina once his season ends. Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford also said Wiggins’ parents aren’t pressuring him to go to Florida State, their alma mater, and they’re going to let Andrew make his own decision. Fulford added, “I don’t think Andrew will be the guy that holds off. When he knows, everybody will know.”
Set your DVRs to record ESPN at 8:00, Thursday evening. The worldwide leader in sports will air a high school basketball game between Aaron Harrison and UK target Aaron Gordon. Andrew Harrison is doubtful for the game with a hamstring injury.
Julius Randle will visit Kansas on February 16 for the Texas game. It should be illegal for teams to host recruits during games against Rick Barnes. It’s an unfair advantage.
College Football News named Landon Foster Second-Team Freshman All-American. Hopefully, with Air Raid 2.0 in town, we can shake this reputation of being Punter U. We need to here more, “TOUCHDOWN KENTUCKY!” and less, “Man, our punter can really kick the ball a long way.”
I’m going to use this space to ask Big Blue Nation to help out a friend of mine by bidding on this painting of John Calipari. Aaron Kizer, an amazing artist from Owensboro, is auctioning off this painting of Coach Cal from his private collection. Aaron’s wife is in UK Hospital battling limbic encephalitis, a rare disease, and the money will go to help pay her medical expenses. Aaron did the painting in 15 minutes, shown here in this video. It’s a really cool, unique piece of art.
Homeland. Watch it. That’s all.
That’ll do it for now. It’s going to be a long week without a basketball game, but we’ll have a preview of the bowl season and an interactive pick ’em contest for our readers later in the week. The winner will receive tickets to a UK basketball game.