Brown trying to restore Troy to former heights

TROY, Ala. (AP) Neal Brown was a 20-something assistant during much of Troy's most successful run at the major college level.

Now, the Trojans' 34-year-old head coach is trying to get them back to that kind of success.

''We've got to get back to playing with that edge that got us five conference championships and three bowl games,'' Brown said Monday at his introductory news conference.

''We're going to play fast, play hard and play physical.''

The former Texas Tech and Kentucky offensive coordinator received a four-year deal worth $660,000 annually - with a rollover for a fifth year.

Brown replaces Larry Blakeney, who retired after 24 seasons and gave his successor his shot as a 25-year-old assistant who later became the youngest offensive coordinator in Football Bowl Subdivision.

Now, Brown is major college football's second youngest head coach.

He was a Troy assistant from 2006-09, serving as offensive coordinator for the final two seasons. Troy won four Sun Belt Conference titles during that span within its five-year reign over the league, and finished third nationally in total offense in his final season.

The Trojans haven't had a winning record since 2010, and are turning to Brown to change that.

Athletic director John Hartwell has high ambitions for the program. Part of that growth process will be some pricey upgrades, including a projected $28 million football facility planned for the North end zone.

''They're going to talk about Troy football in the same breath as Boise or Northern Illinois,'' Hartwell said. ''They're going to say, `We don't want to play them. They're going to kick our tails.'''

Brown spent the past two seasons at Kentucky, whose offensive numbers rose 11.3 points and 69.3 yards from the year before his arrival.

He said he was in no hurry to leave Mark Stoops' staff, but Brown and wife Brooke jumped at this opportunity.

''Troy is that special place for us,'' Brown said. ''It's where I became a Division I football coach for the first time. It's where Brooke and I moved when we first got married. It's where our first child was born. It's where I became the youngest offensive coordinator in the country.

''When I saw coach Blakeney step down, I knew I wanted this job.''

Blakeney attended the news conference with Brown and will stay on with the university in a fundraising role.

''Coach will remain an active part of this program,'' Brown said. ''I want him to be as involved as he wants to be.''

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