Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown acknowledged the football program is dealing with a fractured fan base during Monday's edition of the 'Coach Speak' radio show on Lubbock's Double T 104.3 FM hosted by men's tennis coach Tim Siegel.
Brown, Red Raider soccer coach Tom Stone and Siegel also demonstrated knowledge in a variety of sports during the hour-long radio program that allows Tech coaches to talk a little more freely than during a standard interview with the media.
"I'm off vacation, I'm a positive guy, I feel refreshed," the usually reserved Brown said as his takeaway note at the end of the program. "Red Raider nation, let's get on the positive. We've got 20 out of 22 starters coming back, a great schedule and a returning quarterback. We've got a group of receivers that are very talented. Four returning O-linemen and we've got a great experienced defensive coordinator coming in.
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"It's time to be positive. Let's get together."
Brown joined current head coach Tommy Tuberville a few weeks after Tuberville accepted the Tech job billed as one of the brightest young offensive coordinators in the nation after success as the youngest coordinator in the FBS at Troy. Right on the heels former head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Leach's termination in late 2010.
Tech ranked 15th in 2010 and 29th in 2011 while ranking in the top 10 both seasons in passing yards under Brown's guidance. But a fraction of the fan base just doesn't appreciate Brown's numbers because Brown isn't Leach.
Siegel asked Brown if he listens to what fans and reporters have to say about the team.
"I think you always know about it," Brown said. "You hear coaches say, 'I don't follow it.' I don't really buy into it, to be honest with you. You always know. Now, I know less because I've been at the beach for the last two weeks so I know less than I normally would, but I know there are some naysayers that are wondering how we're going to perform next year. I think it's out there."
Brown immediately continued answering the question citing fans' concerns about the 2013 recruiting class without going into specific details per NCAA rules.
"I think people are concerned about our recruiting class really for no reason," he said. "I think when you look at how we stand in recruiting to where we've been the last couple of years (it) looks similar. I think we're winning some battles.
"It's tough right now because we didn't have a very good year last year. That's evident. And Baylor had the best year in school history. TCU's got a little momentum going because they're entering into the Big 12 plus they've had three or four solid years in a row. And A&M is able to sell the newness and Oklahoma State is coming off their best year in school history. I think putting those things all together and the battles we're still winning on the recruiting front against those schools is a positive sign."
Stone chimed in and asked Brown if he was caught off guard from getting carried in a chariot during Troy games in their rendition of the 'Raider Walk' to receiving less enthusiasm at Tech despite the numbers the offense puts up.
"I knew what I was getting into when I came because in essence I'm filling Mike Leach's shoes," Brown said. "He's one of the best offensive minds that's out there. This is a great opportunity. It's an opportunity and I had other opportunities, but I thought this was the best one. I knew the pressure was here. I knew about the past performances.
"I felt like we had done well enough at Troy, but I didn't really have a vision on where else we could take Troy to be honest with you. I thought we could do some things here that haven't been done and I still think that's the case."
Brown continued his thought by throwing in his experience with Kentucky basketball fans. He grew up in Kentucky and played at Kentucky under Hal Mumme and Leach as an assistant before transferring to Massachusetts to finish up his education.
"I understand the passionate fan base," Brown said. "I really do. I think the difference here is the split fan base. I think at year three it's time to wrap it up. Let's get on board with this. We're either going to produce or we're not and I strongly think we will produce. I think we need to come together as one."
The offensive coordinator as well as Stone and Siegel pointed out how well the offense was doing before running back Eric Stephens went down with an injury. Quarterback Seth Doege passed for 4,004 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Brown said the offense was able to carry its early season momentum through the seventh game of the season -- the Oklahoma win -- before the attrition of injuries really started to wear the team down.
Brown said he believes with Doege and the surrounding cast returning, including the expectations that Stephens and fellow running back DeAndre Washington return, the 2012 Tech offense is poised to be one of the top offenses in the nation.
He told four groups of satellite camp participants last month that Tech's offense is one to watch for last month.
"We've got a lot more experience than we've had the previous two years," Brown said. "You've got a quarterback who is a returning quarterback which is the first one I'm going to (coach for a second year). I think that's going to be the biggest difference… I really think we'll be more consistent this year."