Morgantown, West Virginia – Since taking over as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, Neal Brown has made creating a winning, player-centric culture a top priority. Creating a culture that puts the needs of players first has many positive but also some negative effects.
College football today is very different than it was when Don Nehlen or Rich Rodriguez were in charge of the West Virginia football program. The players, in particular, are very different. They have a voice – on social media and otherwise – and they certainly aren’t afraid to point out injustices or speak out about what is currently bothering them.
This is the world we live in. Players have all of the power. Coaches are no longer allowed to truly hold players accountable. Rather, coaches must walk on eggshells and treat the player as a product, as a brand, as more important than the team.
This – combined with a perceived lack of overall discipline on the team – gives the impression of “the inmates running the prison.” When players blatantly call out coaches, referring to them as “liars”, there has to be consequences. Whether the players involved are suspended or simply don’t start, a message must be sent.
This isn’t the first time that TJ Simmons, who is a member of the leadership squad for the Mountaineers, has made a disappointing choice this season. He was also suspended for the first game of the season for a “violation of team rules.” Although West Virginia University did not release the exact reason, it was reported that it was because Simmons was caught drinking alcohol in the Mountaineers locker room and filmed it live on his social media.