Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coach Profile: Rich Brooks

Rich Brooks may not be a name you've heard before, but he has recently come up on some boards as a candidate being mentioned within the UCLA athletic department. Brooks has a long coaching record, probably the longest amongst all the candidates I've heard about. He's had his ups and downs, but anyone who has coached for over three decades must be doing something right.


Rich Brooks is 66 years old and he is currently the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. He played out his collegiate career, back in the early 1960's, as a defensive back at Oregon State. He worked as an assistant there from 1965 - 1970 before a brief stint at UCLA for one season as the linebacker coach. The next few years he alternated between coaching gigs in the NFL and Oregon State and another stint in Westwood in 1976.

Brooks got his first head coaching job in 1977 at Oregon and he stayed there for 17 season until he finally left for the NFL in 1995. During his time in Oregon he helped revive a historically insignificant program and that effort culminated in 1994 with a PAC-10 championship. Brooks received the National Coach of the Year award that season for his effort.

In the NFL, he was the head coach for the St. Louis Rams for two seasons. He also spent time in Atlanta as an assistant coach and as an interim head coach for a few games in the 1998 season. After two years away from coaching, Brooks returned to the college game in 2003 when he took over a troubled Kentucky program coming off of NCAA sanctions. His current salary is around $1 million.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Oregon (Pacific Eight/Ten) (1977 - 1994)
1977 Oregon 3-8

1978 Oregon 1-10

1979 Oregon 4-7

1980 Oregon 6-3-2

1981 Oregon 2-9

1982 Oregon 2-8-1

1983 Oregon 4-6-1

1984 Oregon 6-5

1985 Oregon 5-6

1986 Oregon 5-6

1987 Oregon 6-5

1988 Oregon 6-6

1989 Oregon 8-4
Independence (W)

1990 Oregon 8-4
Freedom (L)

1991 Oregon 3-8

1992 Oregon 6-6
Independence (L)

1993 Oregon 5-6

1994 Oregon 9-4
Rose (L)


Kentucky (South East) (2003 — present)
2003* Kentucky 4-8

2004 Kentucky 2-9

2005 Kentucky 3-8

2006 Kentucky 8-5
Music City (W)

Kentucky: 17-30

Total: 106-141-4

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Brooks is the exact opposite of UCLA's last two coaching hires who had no head coaching experience. Rich has coaching experience in spades and he spent a very long time in the PAC-10. He also has some head coaching experience in the NFL, though that was almost a decade ago. He did groom Mike Bellotti for the head coaching spot at Oregon and he could be a good mentor to an up-and-coming assistant who just needs to gain more experience.

Having coached at Kentucky for the last four season, Brooks knows what it is like to the lead the football team at a basketball school. He has done a good job of winning over the fans there and they seem genuinely excited about football again. He lead them to their first bowl appearance since 1999. He also runs a clean program and has good integrity.


Brooks overall coaching record, while lengthy, isn't very impressive. In fact, he has a lifetime record with more losses than wins. That doesn't tell the entire story, as he has coached programs that had little tradition and poor recruiting history, but UCLA doesn't really fit that mold. The Bruins have a strong history in football and they really need a coach who can make this team a consistent threat to win the conference. Brooks does not have a track record of doing that. He's good at moving teams from the bottom of the conference to the middle. UCLA needs to move from the middle to the top.

Brooks is a pretty old coach, and at 66, you have to wonder how many more years he has left in him? He definitely doesn't have the "wow" factor of some of the younger up-and-coming candidates and it is hard to envision him as a dynamic recruiter in the new fast-paced recruiting environment. I don't know if he'll win many recruiting victories over coaches like Pete Carroll, Dennis Erickson, and Jeff Tedford.


I don't see a lot of positives with a hire like Brooks. If it was 2002, when UCLA was trying to clean-up the program, the Brooks might have made some sense; but the football team has a solid foundation now and what the Bruins need is an exciting coach who can take them to the next level. There is virtually no buzz around a coach like this and his age means he probably won't be coaching long at Westwood anyways.

This discussion might all be a moot point since Brooks has a pretty solid position in Kentucky. He was on the hot seat there not too long ago and is now experiencing strong support from the fans and alumni. I don't know if he would want to go back into the lion's den by taking the UCLA head coaching position.


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