LOUISVILLE — Neal Brown returned home to Kentucky, but it turned out to be a short stay.
The Cats' offensive coordinator has accepted the head coaching position at Troy and will be named as early as Monday, the Herald-Leader has learned.
When asked if the Cats' 44-40 loss to Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday was his final game in UK blue, Brown said: "I think it's a little too early. I don't want to speak on Troy's search. I'll say this: I love Kentucky. I'm proud of those kids in there. I'm proud to have the opportunity to coach in this game."
When asked later if he'd deny reports that said he was leaving UK, Brown, 34, said: "No, I just said I'm not speaking about it. It's not my place. Today's about these kids and the progress we made and how close we were."
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One published report said Brown's deal with Troy is for five years and worth $3.5 million. His current deal at Kentucky pays him $550,000 and potentially was set to be extended at the end of the season.
When asked about the various reports that Brown was on his way out, Coach Mark Stoops wouldn't confirm or deny them.
"We'll talk about that at the appropriate time," he said. "I don't want to say what's going on with Troy's search. So, I think that will play out in the next 24 hours here."
Brown, who grew up in Kentucky and played for UK, was an assistant coach and coordinator at Troy for four seasons, helping the Trojans win at least a share of four straight Sun Belt Conference championships and earn three bowl invitations.
While at Troy, Brown's offense was third in the nation in total offense, fourth in passing offense and 16th in scoring offense.
He left Troy and was offensive coordinator for three seasons at Texas Tech before accepting the Kentucky job.
Brown will replace retiring coach Larry Blakeney, whom he worked under as an assistant.
According to USA Today's coaching salary database, Blakeney was making $518,788 this season, slightly less than Brown made as UK coordinator.
It is unclear how many — if any — UK offensive assistants will go to Troy with Brown. Wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord and running backs coach Chad Scott both came with him from Texas Tech. Offensive line coach John Schlarman was with Brown at Troy as well.
The only member of the offensive staff with whom Brown didn't work previously is tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow.
When Brown was lured back to the Bluegrass by Stoops two years ago, he said: "This state and this university are special to me. This isn't just another job for me. This is personal. I grew up a fan of this football program, played here, have a personal investment in that aspect and I've been a supporter."
Last season in the first year of the rebuild under Brown, UK's offense finished 108th in scoring offense, averaging 20.5 points per game. The Cats' total offense (341.3) was 109th nationally. Its ground game averaged 147.9 yards (86th overall) and its passing game 193.4 yards (100th overall).
The numbers improved this season, with UK ending the season 5-7, averaging 29.2 points a game, 153.2 yards on the ground and 231.2 yards passing.