Many similarities between Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti

Could we see a Rich Brooks 2.0 when it comes to the next Kentucky football coach?

No, I’m not talking about Phil Fulmer.

I’m talking about Mike Bellotti, the man who followed Brooks as the head coach at Oregon back in 1995, and whose situation shares many similarities to that of Brooks when he took the Kentucky position.

Brooks had been out of coaching for a couple of years when he was hired by Mitch Barnhart in 2003. Bellotti has been out of coaching for four seasons and out of college athletics — Bellotti was Oregon’s AD for nine months in 2009-10 — for two years.

Brooks was 61 years old when he took the UK job and turned 62 before his first game as coach of the Cats. Bellotti will turn 62 in December.

Brooks is a California native. Bellotti is a California native.

Brooks hired Bellotti to be his offensive coordinator at Oregon before Bellotti was promoted to head coach when Brooks left for the NFL. Bellotti hired Chip Kelly to be his offensive offensive coordinator before Kelly was promoted to head coach when Bellotti became athletic director at Oregon.

As head coach at Oregon from 1995 through 2008, Bellotti was 116-65 and took the Ducks to 12 bowl games. His 2007 team reached No. 2 in the rankings before quarterback Dennis Dixon went down with a knee injury.

Like Brooks before he became the coach at UK, Bellotti has reportedly been in the running for Pac-12 jobs of late only to come up empty. He was reported to be Greg Byrne’s second choice at Arizona before Byrne hired Rich Rodriguez. He was also in the running at Arizona State and UCLA before those two schools hired Todd Graham and Jim Mora, Jr. respectively.

All this does not mean that Bellotti, who is doing analyst work for ESPN, will be Kentucky’s next coach. (Mitch Barnhart isn’t talking.) It does mean that given Barnhart’s Oregon connections, and Brooks’ influence on the program, Bellotti could be a viable candidate.

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