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John Clay: Offensive coordinator job a lightning rod at Kentucky

As UK's offensive coordinator, Neal Brown is taking over a position that has produced mixed results over the years.
As UK's offensive coordinator, Neal Brown is taking over a position that has produced mixed results over the years. Herald-Leader

New University of Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown has said more than once that he hesitated before taking that title for a job back in his home state.

After all, offensive coordinators can be lightning rods for criticism.

With that in mind, a brief history of UK's offensive coordinators since 1990.

Tommy Bowden (1990): Bill Curry's first offensive coordinator engineered an attack that averaged 325.8 yards, 33 more than the year before, and there was general optimism about what Bowden was doing with the offense. Alas, he made too good an impression. Auburn's Pat Dye hired Bowden away from UK, and Bobby's son went on to be head coach at Tulane and Clemson. Since being fired in 2008, Bowden has done radio and TV work.

Rick Rhoades (1991-92): Rhoades was elevated from offensive line coach, and he instituted the I-Bone. UK averaged 312.7 and 325.3 yards. Rhoades left to become head coach at Nicholls State. He was later a successful high school coach in Alabama, and he now coaches overseas.

Daryl Dickey (1993-1994): The son of former SEC coach Doug Dickey, Daryl was elevated from quarterbacks coach. Kentucky reached the Peach Bowl in 1993, when it averaged 329.1 yards a game. The Cats caved to 1-10 in 1994, averaging just 279.7 yards, and Dickey was fired. Since 2008, he has been West Georgia's head coach.

Elliot Uzelac (1995-96): The former offensive coordinator at Ohio State and Colorado installed a one-back, two-tight end offense that helped running back Moe Williams set school records in 1995. When Williams left early for the NFL, Uzelac's attack dropped from 322.4 to 217.8 yards a game. Curry was fired midway through the 1996 season. Uzelac coached offensive line at Minnesota and Maryland, and he is now retired.

Hal Mumme (1997-2000): The head coach was really the offensive coordinator during his four years in Lexington, though others had the title.

Upon taking the job in 1997, Mumme immediately installed Tim Couch as his quarterback and UK averaged a school-record 474 yards per game in 1997. The Mumme coaching tree has spread so far and wide now he is known as the father of the Air Raid.

Mike Leach (1997-98): The wide receivers coach owned the offensive coordinator title though Mumme called plays. UK averaged 534.2 yards per game in 1998 and reached the Outback Bowl. Bob Stoops hired Leach as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Leach was a successful head coach at Texas Tech and is now coach at Washington State.

Tony Franklin (2000): Mumme did not name an offensive coordinator in 1999, then gave Franklin the title. UK jumped from averaging 374.5 yards in 1999 to 445.5 yards a game in 2000 with Jared Lorenzen at quarterback. Franklin and Mumme had a falling-out during the season, and Franklin was fired at year's end. Soon after, an NCAA investigation cost Mumme his job. Franklin is now offensive coordinator at California under former Mumme assistant Sonny Dykes.

Brent Pease (2001-02): Before being fired, Mumme hired Pease to replace Franklin as an assistant. New coach Guy Morriss gave coordinator duties to Pease, who ran a more balanced attack. UK averaged 382.8 yards a game in 2001 and 347.4 in 2002 when going 7-5. Pease followed Morriss to Baylor and is now offensive coordinator at Florida.

Ron Hudson (2003-04): New head coach Rich Brooks hired Hudson off Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State. But UK averaged 327.2 yards in 2003 and 275.5 in 2004, and pressure forced Brooks to relieve Hudson of his duties. Hudson has coached overseas and has scouted for NFL teams since.

Joker Phillips (2005-08): The former wide receivers coach built a powerful offense that went from averaging 297.5 yards a game in 2005 to averaging 375.3 in 2006 and 443.4 in 2007. The Cats regressed to 299.3 yards in 2008 but made a bowl game. Phillips was UK head coach for three seasons before being fired. He is now Florida's receivers coach.

Randy Sanders (2009-12): With Phillips as head coach-in-waiting, Sanders was offensive coordinator in 2009 as UK averaged 331.5 yards. With Phillips as head coach, Sanders coordinated an offense that averaged 427.8 yards in 2010. The production dipped to 259.8 in 2001 and 315 last year. Sanders is now quarterbacks coach at Florida State.

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