November 29, 2014

Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown has accepted an offer to become the head coach at Troy, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because terms of the deal were still being finalized.

Brown will replace the retiring Larry Blakeney, whom he worked under as an assistant for four years (2006-2009). Brown was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Troy his last two years on staff.

Troy spokesman Adam Prendergast said in an email that school is close to making a decision and plans to hold a news conference Monday to make an announcement.

Brown and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops also declined to confirm Brown would be headed to Troy after the Wildcats' game against Louisville.

''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,'' Brown said.

Stoops said: ''I think we'll talk about that at the appropriate time. I don't want to say what's going on with Troy's search. I think that will play out in the next 24 hours here or so.''

The 34-year-old Brown spent three seasons as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech before moving to Kentucky with head coach Mark Stoops in 2013.

Brown is a Kentucky native who played for receiver for the Wildcats and at Massachusetts in college.

Blakeney announced his retirement earlier this season, his 24th at Troy. The Trojans (3-9) finished their season Saturday with a 42-23 loss to Sun Belt Conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette. Blakeney was the longest the second-longest tenured active coach at an FBS school, behind Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech.

During Brown's two seasons as offensive coordinator in Troy, Alabama, the Trojans won the Sun Belt each year. In 2009, the Trojans ranked third in the nation in total offense at 485 yards per game.

Brown's spread offense at Kentucky hasn't been as productive, but it has improved greatly from Year 1 to Year 2.

Last season Kentucky ranked 109th in the nation and averaged 341 yards per game and 5.21 per play. This season, leaning heavily on inexperienced players, the Wildcats came into Saturday 76th in the nation in total offense, averaging 389 yards and 5.5 per play.

The Wildcats' season ended Saturday with 44-40 loss to Louisville that left them 5-7 on the season. Kentucky won two games last season, its first under Stoops and Brown.

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AP freelance writer Josh Abner in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDRussoAP

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