Hudson gone, but Barnhart says Brooks to return

November 23, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Rather than continue to have his job status questioned and performance questioned, Kentucky offensive coordinator Ron Hudson decided to call it quits Monday.

"Because of the turmoil surrounding my future and the lack of production with the offense, I feel it would be in the best interest of the program that I relinquish my position at the University of Kentucky," Hudson said in a statement released Monday afternoon by Kentucky.

This was not the ending Kentucky coach Rich Brooks had in mind when he assembled his staff after the 2002 season. Hudson had been at Kansas State for eight years, including six as offensive coordinator when the team went to a bowl game each year.

However, UK's offense was inconsistent during a 4-8 campaign in 2003 and sputtered almost all of this year. The Wildcats ran 114th out of 117 teams in total offense and 115th in scoring going in to Saturday's season-ending game at Tennessee.


Athletics director Mitch Barnhart also emphasized Monday night that Brooks would remain as UK's head coach.

"Rich will be back and it will be his decision as to who he hires for his next offensive coordinator," Barnhart said. "There aren't going to be any more changes unless we have a coach that wants to leave, but we are not anticipating any more changes."

Hudson's resignation was effective immediately. He will not be with the team this week. Offensive line coach Paul Dunn and receivers coach Joker Phillips will call plays at Tennessee along with Brooks with Phillips moving from the sidelines to the pressbox where Hudson normally sits to call plays.

Final decision Monday

Brooks did not mention Hudson's resignation during his regular weekly press conference at noon Monday. However, after Monday's practice he explained that Hudson approached him Sunday night about possibly resigning before making his final decision to leave Monday.

"He just felt it would be better for the team if he took himself out of it. I tried to talk him out of it."

Brooks insisted Hudson was not forced to resign despite the rampant speculation that Barnhart had called for Brooks to dismiss Hudson, and possibly other assistant coaches.

"Did he get pressure? Not to my knowledge," Brooks said. "He just didn't want to put anyone in an awkward position.

"He just felt the negativity had become almost overwhelming and he wanted the focus to be back on the team and the players rather than on his status, my status or whatever. He wanted them (the players) not to be troubled with it."

Brooks said several weeks ago that not only did he expect to be back next year, but that he also intended to keep his staff intact. Brooks has three years left on his contract worth about $750,000 per year.

The Kentucky coach said having Hudson leave won't solve Kentucky's problems.

"The only thing that is good about it is that maybe the focus is back on the players on the field instead of the speculation," Brooks said. "All of those people that have questioned his ability, all they have to do is look at every place he's been and the offensive numbers they have put up. He didn't forget how to coach. Some situations just don't work out the way you want."

Brooks said Hudson knew he was taking some risk when he left the comfort of Kansas State's successful program to try and help him rebuild at Kentucky.

"We knew we would have some struggles, but we certainly didn't anticipate this and I certainly didn't anticipate this for Ron Hudson and I'm sick to my stomach over it."

No speculation on other changes

Brooks wouldn't speculate on any other possible staff changes. He did say at his news conference that he intended to be back and that he had not discussed the situation in great detail with his players.

"It's not a players' problem," Brooks said. "I don't want to bother them. I told them I expect to be here and want to be here."

Linebacker coach Ron McBride, the former head coach at Utah, was vague about his future. He had a heart problem that hospitalized him, required surgery and forced him to miss time earlier this season. Now he's back working close to a normal schedule.

"Hopefully I can continue on and be productive and help this program be successful," McBride said. "If I ever felt I was not an asset to this program, then I would definitely take a step back. We will just see at the end of the year what is best for all concerned."

Senior cornerback Earven Flowers says all the coaches have taken more blame for UK's 2-8 season than they should have.

"They are doing everything they can. Guys just have to go make plays," Flowers said. "Coach Hudson gets a lot of heat for things that go on, but a lot of times we are just a block away from a big play. That's not coach Hudson. It is the guy who didn't make the block. He's not calling bad stuff. Guys just didn't perform this year the way we should have."

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