By LARRY VAUGHT
8:29 AM PST, December 20, 2012
LEXINGTON — Because Mark Stoops understood the offense that Neal Brown likes to run, it was not hard for the new Kentucky head coach and his offensive coordinator to agree on staff positions that enabled Brown to be reunited with assistant coaches Chad Scott and John Schlarman.
Schlarman has been hired as the offensive line coach, and Scott will be an offensive assistant coach with specific duties yet to be determined. Both are former Kentucky players, and both have coached with Brown.
“Coach Stoops has been around this offense for a long time. If you go back to 1998 when Bob (Stoops) hired Mike Leach (at Oklahoma), 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,” Brown said. “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 being a very good basketball — better athlete than him by the way — player here, those things helped. John was a great player here, an all-SEC center, from one of the strongest high school programs in the state (Highlands), a lot of family connections here, not only in his family but his wife’s. Those things were strong considerations for coach Stoops when he made those hires.”
Scott coaches running backs at Troy for two years when Brown was offensive coordinator and then spent the last three years with him at Texas Tech. Schlarman was Brown’s offensive line coach at Troy for two years and has been there the last three years as well.
Texas Tech is coming off a regular season in which it ranked second in passing offense (361.9 yards) and 12th in total offense at 501.4 per game. The Red Raiders’ scoring average of 37.8 points per game ranked 16th in the nation.
Troy enjoyed similar success. In 2009 the Trojans improved from 27th to third in total offense and from 33rd to fourth in passing. Kentucky ranked 12th in the Southeastern Conference in passing at 176.2 yards per game last year.
Brown said both new UK assistant coaches were “sold” on Stoops just like him.
“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,” Brown said. “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.”
Brown said it’s not hard to understand why his offensive philosophy works.
“I think what it does, the tempo really affects people. The tempo really affects people. The second thing that happens is when you spread the field out, skill people, there is a bigger — and I’m trying to think of how to put this — the skill people are easier to recruit,” he said. “There’s not a great deal of difference between the No. 1 wide receiver in the country and the No. 25 wide receiver in the country. There is 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 No. 1 thing.”
Scott has not yet been assigned a position to coach, as the Wildcats still need another position coach on offense. Brown said finding a receivers coach is a “work in progress.”
“Coach Stoops has put a great staff together so far, and we need two guys to hire still. It’s really going to be a work in progress. I think we’re going to interview some guys down at the national (coaching) convention, whenever that is. I don’t even know when that is, I’ve been going 100 miles per hour.”
He says what Scott coaches will depend on who Stoops wants to hire for the remaining position.
“He’s a guy that’s got some versatility. He’s been a running backs coach most of his career. He spent a lot of time with our receivers at Texas Tech, also. So we’re just kind of wait and see. We want to hire the best possible guy in that hat last spot on offense,” Brown said.