Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia football program has officially hit rock bottom. Attendance is down – the lowest average home attendance in decades -, the first back-to-back losing seasons in over 40 years, irrelevancy on the national stage for multiple years, West Virginia football is in a major hole. But rather than focusing on the negatives – and there are many – it’s time to look past Shane Lyons and Neal Brown and all of the losing and focus on how to turn this situation around and start winning again!
STEP 1: Innovative, forward-thinking Director of Athletics
The hire that West Virginia University will make in the coming week(s) is the most important hire perhaps in the history of the athletic department. Get this wrong and we could be in for many more years of losing and lost revenue. Make the correct hire and the right person for the job could instantaneously make the Mountaineers relevant again.
West Virginia must find a director of athletics who is innovative, forward-thinking and willing/and able to think outside of the box. Oregon’s current athletics director Rob Mullens, who graduated from West Virginia University and may or may not be a realistic option to replace Shane Lyons, was incredibly innovative in his approach at Oregon. If Mullens isn’t a possibility, West Virginia needs someone like Rob Mullens to lead the program moving forward.
STEP 2: Proven, successful head coach
The West Virginia football program has spent the past four years under the leadership of someone is not a real leader, who was not a proven, successful head coach at this level and who was clearly in over his head from Day 1. It was a failed experiment and it’s not something that West Virginia can afford to risk again.
Rather, West Virginia must find a coach who has proven that he can win at the highest level, that he can recruit the very best talent to Morgantown and that he will not use the program as a stepping stone to move onto other larger programs.
That seems like a big ask but that coach is out there. It’s the new director of athletics’ duty to find him and bring him to Morgantown.
STEP 3: Embrace the West Virginia culture
Instead of trying to make everything so neat and orderly, West Virginia should embrace the passion of the fan base with new traditions and a completely overhauled game day experience. Morgantown should be absolutely chaotic on Saturday afternoons. Fans and players should fear coming to play the Mountaineers.
Obviously no one should be physically hurt or harassed, but there was mystique about Morgantown in the past that just hasn’t been there since Neal Brown has been the head coach.
STEP 4: Unique offensive/defensive strategy
West Virginia has been its most successful when it incorporates an unusual, difficult-to-prepare-for strategy. Rich Rodriguez ran the zone read before anyone else did and defenses struggled to prepare for it. Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” wreaked havoc on opposing offenses. The same could be said for Tony Gibson’s 3-3-5 defense.
West Virginia may never have the level of talent of the blue blood programs around the nation, but they can compete with and upset the top teams by making it impossible to prepare for. Neal Brown’s offensive and defensive strategies have been boring and vanilla and easy to prepare for over the last four seasons. West Virginia needs something unique and different to win big again.