Red raided

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two seasons ago, former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville lured then Trojan offensive coordinator Tony Franklin to the Tigers.

Now, two seasons later, Tuberville has again tapped the Trojans’ coaching staff for his new job in Lubbock, Texas.

Neal Brown, Troy’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, was named the new offensive coordinator for the Red Raiders early Tuesday morning.

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“Talked to Neal early this morning and he told me he took the job at Texas Tech,” Trojan head coach Larry Blakeney said.

“Now, we will begin the search for his replacement.”

Brown himself was unavailable to talk about the move until Texas Tech officially announces the hire.

“I talked to [Tommy] Tuberville today,” Blakeney said.

“I told him what I thought about Neal as a coach and as a person – basically, just recommending him.

“I also told him he owes me $250,000 for taking coaches away from me,” he laughed.

Brown, who is the youngest offensive coordinator in the FBS, first came to Troy as a wide receivers coach, after leaving the University of Delaware, a Division 1-AA school.

After replacing Franklin, Brown took over in the 2008 season and helped the Trojans’ offensive flourish in the process.

The Trojans were ranked 27th and 23rd overall in total offense and scoring in the nation.

Troy also ranked in the top three of every major offensive category in the Sun Belt that season.

In 2009, Brown and the Trojan offense continued to flourish, finishing third overall in total offense in the nation.

Now, Blakeney will look for a replacement that will be able to pick up where Brown left off.

“Already thought about filling [the coaching spot],” he said.

“We are going to do it as quickly as we can, but no time table or person is in place yet.”

When asked about Brown’s departure, Troy Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr., said he was proud of what the coach was able to accomplish.

“If other institutions aren’t recruiting our people, we don’t have the right people,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

As for the players themselves, the news was not something they enjoyed hearing.

“We got the news this morning,” quarterback Jamie Hampton said.

“I have been through this before [with Tony Franklin] and I can’t blame him for taking the job.

“As a competitor, whether it is a coach or a player, you want to always go where the best fit it, and he believes [Texas Tech] is a good fit for him. All I can do is wish him the best,” he added.

After being off the field for the past two seasons, Hampton will go into the 2010 season as the front runner for the starting quarterback job and said that he is thankful for all Brown has done for him.

“He gave me my first shot [at the starting job],” Hampton said. “And for that, I will always been extremely thankful.

“[A transition like this] is always a difficult one,” Hampton continued.

“We all developed a routine with [coach Brown]. Hopefully with the new coach, we will be able to get back to busy quickly and develop something similar that [coach Brown] had.”

Junior wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan said he did not expect something like this to happen so quickly.

“At first I was shocked,” Jernigan said about Neal’s departure. “But after I sat down and thought about it, I’m sure he thinks this is the best move for him and his family and so I have to respect that.

“He become the offensive coordinator around the same time I came to Troy – we had a good connection together.

“I am happy for him, but I just wish he left Troy when I was leaving Troy,” he added.

Jernigan said he has been in contact with Brown through text messages but had not talked to him in depth about the past couple of day’s events.

“Everyone that knows how good of a coordinator he is, is down about,” the wide receiver added.

As far as when a new coach will be named, both Hampton and Jernigan said they will find out whom it is when everyone else does.

“We all believe in coach Blakeney and know he will pick the right guy to replace coach Brown,” Hampton said.

“It doesn’t matter too much as long as we can keep the same mentality on offense,” Jernigan said.