John Clay: Kentucky's Minter, Florida's Weis say history not a factor in Saturday's game

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 22, 2011 

When the subject was raised on Tuesday, Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter gave the same look he must have had when watching video of Florida's scatback duo of Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey blowing past defenders.

The subject was Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. The subject, when head coach at Notre Dame, fired his defensive coordinator after the 2006 season.

The defensive coordinator was Rick Minter.

"I don't really want to get into that," said Minter.

It's difficult to ignore, however, with Weis' Gators coming to Commonwealth Stadium to play Kentucky on Saturday night.

"We're getting ready for the University of Florida and they do a nice job on offense," Minter said. "They've got some great players, got some great speed. They put a good scheme together so we've got our work cut out for us, but we're looking forward to the challenge."

Ah, but Minter was the defensive boss for Weis' first two seasons in South Bend. Notre Dame went 19-6, but after surrendering 42 points to LSU in the Sugar Bowl, Weis dropped the axe on Minter, replacing him with Corwin Brown, a Patriot when Weis was an assistant in New England.

"Well, that's been a long time," said Minter this week. "There's a lot of water under the dam. That was five or six years ago, we've all progressed, gone on to other things, been involved with other people."

The move didn't turn out particularly well for any of the three.

Notre Dame plunged to 3-9 in 2007 before finishing 7-6 in 2008. At the end of that season, Corwin Brown — in similar fashion to UK's Steve Brown after last season — gave up the coordinator responsibilities when Weis hired Jon Tenuta.

After a 6-6 record in 2009, Weis himself was fired.

Corwin Brown coached with the Patriots in 2010 before being let go in February. His life then took a troubled and tragic turn. Last month, the 41-year-old shot himself in the torso during a seven-hour standoff with police.

Since the incident, Brown's family issued a statement saying it believes he suffers from brain trauma symptoms similar to those of former Notre Dame defensive back Dave Duerson, who committed suicide in 2010.

Weis spent last year running the Kansas City Chiefs offense, then surprised nearly everyone by returning to the college ranks to become new coach Will Muschamp's offensive coordinator at Florida.

In Gainesville, he has scrapped Urban Meyer's spread attack in favor of a more pro-style offense.

"The Florida offense right now is built with the tailbacks primarily," said Minter of the ridiculously fast Demps and Rainey. "They're well-coached, they're well-schemed and they've got some good players. But they're built around the speed of their tailbacks and they utilize them quite wisely."

After leaving Notre Dame for the second time — ND's defensive coordinator in 1992-93, Minter became Cincinnati's head coach in 1994 — Minter joined the staff at Marshall for two seasons. He spent 2010 helping his son coach linebackers at Indiana State before answering Joker Phillips' call.

"He worked for me for two years," Weis said of Minter this week. "We won a bunch of games when he was there. He was a 4-3 guy when he was with me. They're playing a 3-4 defense now. That's quite a change from the defense that they played. ... So, there's not a lot of similarities front-wise."

Through three games, the Cats are a respectable 39th nationally in total defense.

"They're giving up 13 points a game for a reason," Weis said. "They have a pretty good idea what they want to do on defense."

And Minter knows he wants nothing to do with the idea of any pre-game talk about his former boss, or what kind of effect that might have on Saturday's matchup.

"I don't think," said Rick Minter, "it'll have much bearing on it."

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

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