Extending Patience to Josh Eilert

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Let me preface this by saying that I understand that the West Virginia basketball program is not where anyone wants it to be right now and that it has greatly underachieved this season. 9-19 overall and 4-12 in the Big 12 Conference (dead last) is not acceptable under any circumstances.

With that said, interim head coach Josh Eilert has faced more adversity in his one season than any coach in West Virginia athletics history. And I’m asking Mountaineer Nation to have the same patience with Josh Eilert and his staff as you have with Neal Brown for the last 5 years. It’s only fair.

Eilert was placed in an extremely difficult, unpleasant situation after Bob Huggins’ thoughtless, careless, reckless decisions. Eilert and his staff have handled what was thrown at them with incredible class, and I believe they should be given at least one more season to attempt to turn the program around.

Neal Brown

Brown, despite having the worst five-year stretch in the last four decades, was given chance after chance. Brown’s 31-29 record in his five seasons is the worst record in five consecutive years since 1976-1980 at West Virginia University. Yes, Brown led the Mountaineers to a 9-4 record in 2023, but it took him four years to get to that point, and he faced a relative cupcake schedule last season. Remember, West Virginia did not beat a single team with a winning record last year. North Carolina, who the Mountaineers beat in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, were without their starting quarterback and multiple starters and key players.

People defend Brown by saying what a difficult situation he was thrust into, but the reality is that the roster that he started with in 2019 was absolutely loaded with talent. The roster was young, but the notion that Brown was left with a “bare cupboard” is simply untrue. Brown did a poor job of retaining talent and had four full seasons to get his roster where he needed it to be. His record after four seasons? 22-25. Unacceptable for a proud, winning program. But Brown was miraculously given a 5th year and it now appears that the program is on the upward trajectory.

If Brown Got 5 Years, Eilert Deserves at Least 2 Years

The point is, if Neal Brown was given a leash to “build his program”, Josh Eilert should be given the same opportunity. There seems to be this narrative that Neal Brown was an accomplished head coach who was brought in as the permanent head coach, and that that is the reason why he was given more time. However, why exactly does that matter? Brown had zero Power 5 experience and was only successful at Troy. People refer to Eilert as a “video guy” with no experience, but he spent 15 years with Bob Huggins and coached far longer at this level than Brown. He wasn’t the head coach, but he knows what it takes to win at this level and would have the program turned around much faster than Brown did.

Eilert’s coaching staff – highlighted West Virginia legends Da’Sean Butler, Alex Ruoff and Jordan McCabe – is the type of staff that would bring in top talent and would make the Mountaineers contenders again quickly. They just need time. Just like Neal Brown got. Give them time. The football program is far more important to the university financially, and the school can afford for the basketball program to have a down year or two. Josh Eilert needs patience and support, just like Neal Brown was given.