Rich Brooks is coming home.
The 1959 Nevada Union High School graduate and son of a gold miner, whose football career extended to more than 30 years of coaching in the NCAA and NFL, has accepted an invitation to serve as the grand marshal of western Nevada County's annual Fourth of July parade to be held in Nevada City this summer.
According to a statement released by Cathy Whittlesey of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, Brooks on Monday made a commitment to parade chairman George Harper. His appearance in the parade will offer Brooks' former classmates, friends, family and fans throughout Northern California to celebrate his coaching career, from which he retired in early January.
Brooks, 68, stepped away as head coach at the University of Kentucky, where he transformed an annual Southeastern Conference cellar dweller into a legitimate conference contender. He finished with a 39-47 overall record over seven seasons in Lexington, but after struggling to 9-25 through the first three years the Brooks-led Wildcats went 31-22 and went to three straight bowl games.
His tenure in Kentucky capped a 25-year college coaching career that included a 130-156-4 record. He led Oregon to the Rose Bowl in his final season with the Ducks in 1994, where he won the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award as National Coach of the Year.
He later accepted the head coach position with the NFL's St. Louis Rams. He also served as defensive coordinator the 1998 Atlanta Falcons, which lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.