Next year will be Mark Stoops’ fourth season as the head coach of the University of Kentucky football team. When the season starts, it will be the third different coach to lead his offense.
Shortly after taking over, the defensive specialist chose “Touchdown” Neal Brown to lead his offense. The BBN became nostalgic, thinking back to Saturdays filled with touchdowns and Air Raid sirens. Unfortunately, those dreams have never transformed into reality.
The Kentucky offense has never been pretty during Stoops’ tenure. Patrick Towles was a Mr. Football and Elite 11 prospect leaving high school. At his best he was average, finishing both seasons as a starter one game shy of a bowl birth, yet Towles still finished his career 6th in UK history with 5,099 passing yards. That career came to a close earlier than expected after struggling down the stretch. That career could have been much different with a different offensive coordinator.
One of the candidates to become Stoops’ first offensive coordinator won his 20th game as a head coach today in his second consecutive bowl victory. His quarterback finished this season with 5,055 yards, only 44 fewer yards than Towles did during his entire career. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a Jeff Brohm-bias because he’s my first cousin, but I am not the first person to wonder what it would be like to have him on the Kentucky sideline.
Jeff has been through multiple stops during his coaching career, starting at WKU as Bobby Petrino’s offensive coordinator in 2013, the same year Stoops took over at Kentucky. In a season-opening matchup between the Cats and the Tops, WKU dominated from the first drive, putting up 487 yards and completing 79% of their passes on their way to a nine-point win. Since then, Jeff’s offenses have only gotten better.
- Petrino screamed Brandon Doughty off campus halfway through the 2013 season. Jeff convinced him to come back and turned him into a 5,000 yard passer, only the 11th in the history of college football.
- After being promoted to head coach, Brohm has won back-to-back bowl games, in Miami and the Bahamas. WKU had not won a bowl game since entering the FBS in 2009.
- Brohm is 20-7 in two years with Top Five passing offenses each year.
- Doughty’s 97 TD passes in two years are an FBS record.
- This year WKU won 12 games, a C-USA Championship, only losing at LSU and at Indiana.
I’ve given WKU extra attention for two years because of my family connections (my little brother Nathan is a safety and plays on Special Teams), but I never expected to rewarded with such an entertaining brand of football. Executing routine screen passes for first downs is one example, but a better example is how they got back into today’s game. Trailing 14-0 and struggling to complete passes downfield, Jeff called a flea-flicker. The play went 60 yards, with the following play reaching the end zone. It was one of at least five flea-flickers/reverses. It’s an exciting brand of football that consistently makes you get out of your seat and cheer.
Obviously playing against C-USA defenses is much different than playing against SEC defenses. I can also understand why Coach Stoops picked Brown over Brohm. They had similar success at previous stops, but one played for UK and the other played for UofL.
There have been many frustrating moments on the offensive side of the football under Mark Stoops. Nothing has been more frustrating than watching Patrick Towles fail to reach his potential, yet still have moderate success. That would not have happened with Brohm as the offensive coordinator. However, if things don’t work out with the next offensive coordinator, we could still get the chance to see Brohm on the UK sidelines…as Kentucky’s head coach.