Neal Brown, former Kentucky offensive coordinator, was formally announced as the new head football coach for the Troy Trojans on Monday, Dec. 1.
Brown is familiar with Troy as he served from 2006 to 2009 and was the youngest offensive coordinator in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) at the age of 25 during the last two years, under now retired head coach Larry Blakeney. During his time with the Trojans, the team won four consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships and traveled to three bowl games.
Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. welcomed Brown and his family back to Troy.
“Today, almost 24 years later, we come together to celebrate the advent of a new era at Troy University,” Hawkins said.
During Brown’s time away, he has coached at Kentucky for two years and at Texas Tech for three years.
Within in two years of coaching the Wildcat offensive, Brown had the team averaging 11.3 more points per game. In 2014, Kentucky collected 380 yards or more in total offense during its first three SEC games, which was a feat that hadn’t been seen since 1998.
While at Texas Tech in 2010, he coached under Tommy Tuberville, and the team ranked in the top seven in the nation in passing offense, top 15 in total offense, and top 25 in scoring offense.
The Red Raiders in 2012 raked in 470.6 yards per game and tallied up 33.8 points per match.
While these stats are impressive, Athletic Director John Hartwell explained at the press conference just what all went into the search for a new head coach when Blakeney announced his retirement a mere eight weeks ago.
A 17-person advisory committee was put together for the search while 100 plus people expressed interest in the position. Hartwell was very clear that there was certain criterion that must be met; including one’s recruiting capabilities, history of accountability and discipline, and “the fit.”
“Certainly, we were looking for somebody that fit Troy,” Hartwell said. “It wasn’t a prerequisite that you had been here before, but certainly that is a huge plus in Neal’s corner. Certainly, understanding our place and how it works, our vision for the future and our expectations, and Neal does that.”
Hartwell explained how when he visited Brown and his family in Kentucky, the two were talking and Brown mentioned how he always seemed to be with the underdog teams, the ones that didn’t have the biggest budgets, but they got it done. Brown told Hartwell that he liked the challenge.
“Boy, when I heard that, I said I think this is going to work out,” Hartwell said.
After sealing the deal, Brown now has a four-year contract that had an automatic one-year rollover with Troy. His base pay is $660,000, including incentives.
Brown, 34, is the second youngest head coach in FBS and the 21st football coach for Troy in program history.
When he heard about Blakeney stepping down, he immediately knew he wanted the job.
“What made Troy special to us are not the four conference championships we won while we were here,” Brown said. “It wasn’t the three bowl bids, it should have been four, but it wasn’t the three bowl bids. It is the people.”
During his speech, Brown briefly outlined his goals based off of what is expected of a head coach.
“I know head coaches are expected to do three things: One, win, and we will,” Brown said. “Two, graduate student-athletes, and we will. Three, develop young men.”
The new head coach intends to focus on a player-first program. This means making sure that the players get the best, and in return the best is expected out of those players.
He also plans for discipline to take place on and off the field, and for players to be held accountable to each other, but also to the program and the university.
“They talk about playing the game of football,” Brown said. “They don’t say let’s go work the game of football. We are going to have fun. We are going to be disciplined, but we will have fun. You can be both.”
Brown plans to bring competitiveness and energy to the table every day and expects the same out of his fellow coaches, from recruiting to practice. He mentioned having a strong presence recruiting-wise in high schools throughout the southeast.
“We will focus on players that fit our program that fit our needs, players that are willing to work harder and more than the guy lining up across from them,” Brown said.
As for his football strategy, Brown has three phases: offense, defense and special teams. He made it clear he anticipates building a fast-paced passing game with an aggressive defense and a special team that is out to score.
“We are going to play fast,” Brown said. “We’re going to play hard and physical. When people talk about Troy, I believe they did this during that time [2006-2009], they are going to talk about how those guys play hungry.”
Brown left his closing remarks for the Troy fans.
“We need you,” he said. “I want that to be heard loud and clear. We need you, probably more now than ever. We need Veterans Memorial Stadium to be the toughest place to play in the Sun Belt Conference.”