Many people all over the social media forums are preaching this morning to stop with the hostile rhetoric about Neal Brown and instead choose to bask in the win over Pitt and let those good vibes carry you through this game. The trouble is, we have seen all this before. Sure, there are plenty of people who just want to be bitter and angry about their ‘favorite’ football teams, but when does it become being a bad fan for simply wanting sustainable success?
I had a conversation with my wife the other day about what Neal Brown has actually done since he came to Morgantown. I commented that I think that, on a personal level, he seems like a really great man. Someone who can inspire young men to do great things, but despite all that, it has not really shown up measurably on the football field. 24-26 into the first third of his 5th year as head coach of the WVU Mountaineers. In that time:
- We have never won more than 6 games in a regular season
- We have never (today, hopefully being the first) won three games in row
- We have never seen a ranking on the AP Poll
I am not some fair-weather fan who only shows up when things are going great. I am a former truster of the climb. I have been with this team for many, many years. I watched through some of the worst seasons, like Dana’s first introduction to the conference, where we went 7-6 and then 4-8. However, I have to be objective about the state of things. Is this a slow start for Neal Brown, who now begins to turn a corner into success? If so, that’s amazing. I want nothing more, truly, than the West Virginia Mountaineers to be a respected and competitive opponent in the growing Big 12 Conference for years and years to come.
That being said, we have ridden this hype train before. Remember kicking Towson’s ass last year 65-7? Then, turning around and playing under the lights against Virginia Tech on the road before the country realized they weren’t as good as everyone thought they would be? We were about where the fan base is right now. We want to believe this is it – the time, the place, the year. I want to believe it, too. Like last year, though, we face tough Texas-based opponents coming off of that two-game streak, last year being a loss on the road to the University of Texas. This year is a home game, at least. My concern is hopping aboard this positivity wagon that everything is better now and watching another skid of losing four of the following five games. You can’t just forget that’s what happened last year. All the positive vibes do not erase last year’s 5-7 record.
I want to convey that wanting the best for the Mountaineers is okay. If that best is Neal Brown, and he can usher in an era of sustainable success, pop the champagne, and damnit let’s celebrate. But, if later today doesn’t go as we hope, or other games on the schedule begin to show that we still aren’t the team we hope to be, is it so wrong to want a change? Rebuilding sucks, and it’s going to be terrible, but you are watching WVU get left behind by the likes of teams like the Kansas Jayhawks, and programs like TCU, who get Sonny Dykes a single season and reach the National Championship game. Teams like Colorado are making weekly headlines with their electric gameplay and entertaining coach.
Neal Brown will never be Deion Sanders, but you can’t live in the basement of the Big 12 and expect to survive. While megaconferences might be a path moving forward, these developing solid groups will begin trimming the fat to make the payouts to their top schools even better – WVU has to figure out a way to get competitive again like they were in the Big East. It is possible with the right personnel, but this wait-and-see solves no problems for us.
I want the Mountaineers to make Red Raider divots in our turf today. I want to sweep the conference and win a Big 12 title – hell, be IN the title game for once. I will hope for the best with all of our fans, but it is alright to prepare for the storm that may yet be coming.
Image Credit: On3