(Photo by WVU Athletics)
To say that the Neal Brown era to this point has been disappointing would be an understatement. After coming to West Virginia winning 31 games at Troy in the three seasons prior to (2016-2018), he has accumulated a 19-21 record at WVU. That’s not going to get it done for the fans, the boosters, or the brand of the Mountaineers. It’s just not good enough.
If you were to scroll through Twitter at any given moment during the day, you would see countless fans calling for his termination – and honestly, who could blame them? I have been one that has been very loyal to Neal Brown. I know building a program is a process, and I know that it takes time. However, we are sitting here in year four and many of the same mistakes are still plaguing the Mountaineers that were there in year one.
This leads me to my own personal opinion on Neal Brown and his tenure at West Virginia. If I were to sum up his style so far in a phrase, it would be “too conservative.” Of course analytics are a big part of the game. Brown has let fans know time and time again that analytics are a big part of his coaching style. That’s fine…but the problem is when you let them completely consume every game.
We will use the Pitt game for example. Driving with the ball ahead 31-24 and a chance to put the game away in the opponent’s territory, nine out of ten coaches would go for it if a fourth and inches presented itself. Brown did not. Instead, he elected to punt. This gave Pitt the ball for a game-tying drive.
Should West Virginia have gone for it and made it, they’re likely celebrating a Backyard Brawl victory. Yes, there is the chance that they would not have converted – but if you can’t get INCHES on one play, you really don’t deserve to win.
To win big time games, you have to be willing to make the big time play calls. Brown has yet to show that during his time at West Virginia. Nothing has been flashy, nothing has been unique. In my opinion, that is his biggest issue.
Sitting at 2-3 and 0-2 in Big 12 play, Brown and the Mountaineers have to win four of their final seven games to secure bowl eligibility. If not, it is going to be a long holiday season at home.
The time to finally “go big or go home” is now. Not next year, not when the roster is finally completely stacked – NOW. Otherwise, Brown will be looking for another job sooner rather than later. Only time will tell if Brown can finally break from this funk of conservativeness that is holding back.
I’m rooting for you, Coach Brown.