Troy head coach Neal Brown has interviewed for the Arizona Wildcats’ head coaching job, and is considered a top candidate for the position, multiple sources told Maria Martin of WSFA in Alabama.
A side note from the National Championship: multiple sources have told me that Neal Brown has interviewed at #Arizona and is a top candidate on their list for the next HC.— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) January 9, 2018
Brown, 37, has a 25-13 record in three seasons (2015-17) at Troy, his first stint as a head coach.
The Trojans went 11-2 in 2017 and won the Sun Belt. Neal was Sun Belt Coach of the Year.
They also came away with an impressive road victory against LSU which led to this celebration:
"We did so many good things ... We just beat LSU!"— Troy Trojans FB 11 x ⚔️ (@TroyTrojansFB) October 1, 2017
⚔️ #OneTROY ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/Z6R6ZF8PX4
In 2016, Troy went 10-3 under Brown which was the nation’s best turnaround, and included the first top-25 ranking in school and Sun Belt history.
The Danville, Kentucky native, a graduate of UMass, has been coaching since 2003. Here is where and in what role:
- 2003: UMass (TE/AOL)
- 2004: Sacred Heart (QB/WR)
- 2005: Delaware (WR)
- 2006-07: Troy (IWR)
- 2008-09: Troy (OC/QB)
- 2010-12: Texas Tech (OC/QB)
- 2013-14: Kentucky (OC/QB)
- 2015-present: Troy (HC)
Neal, an offensive-minded coach as you can see above, runs a pass-heavy, spread offense, similar to Mike Leach’s Air Raid.
Neal’s offense has been called the “NASCAR spread” because of the speed it runs at. He was once called the “fasted play-caller in college football.”
Troy averaged 33.7 points per game in 2016 and 31.5 points per game in 2017 under Brown, ranking 39th and 43rd in the country, respectively.
Troy threw the ball roughly 35 times per game this past season. Arizona averaged just 23 pass attempts.
That said, the Trojans have actually fared better on defense under Brown. In 2016, they surrendered just 22.1 points per game (22nd in the country). In 2017, they allowed just 18.5 points per game (11th in the country).
Brown has recruited well at Troy — luring in a couple top-100 classes — but one concerning thing is the furthest west he has coached is Lubbock, Texas. So he might not have many recruiting connections in the states Arizona generally recruits the most (California and Arizona).
Another obstacle: Brown’s buyout at Troy is almost $3 million.
Still, Brown seems like a solid option for Arizona even if he’s not a flashy name like Kevin Sumlin or Les Miles.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire