What makes a great head coach? Is it strategy? Recruiting? Wins? While all of these characteristics and achievements are important, the most vital feature a coach must have is found in how they treat people. As for West Virginia’s Neal Brown, he is easily the nicest coach in all of College Football. He is not out for popularity, he does not have an agenda to better his name, he simply strives to put others in front of himself.

Brown has made it clear that he wants his programs to be players first. Since arriving in Morgantown in early 2019, Brown has created a family atmosphere among the Mountaineer Football team. Constantly on social media, Brown and the team have been seen participating in various team activities after practice sessions, and have even taken trips to places such as a West Virginia coal mine prior to the 2019 season. The former Troy coach wants to make sure that his team is not only successful on the field, but they also gain a deeper appreciation for the people around them and the people in the state, all while becoming 1st-team citizens in the process. It is easy for a coach to focus entirely on football, and boosting his own ego through wins. A coach that puts players first is rare today in College Football.

Possibly the most overlooked aspect of Neal Brown is his interaction with fans. Brown has mingled more with the fanbase in his 16 months on the job than the previous regime did in nearly a decade. Whether it be through shaking hands during the Mountaineer Mantrip prior to games, or even reaching out to several fans on Twitter, Brown is not afraid to show his human side for the 1.8 million of the Mountain State. For us fans, this is important to see in a coach.

To fans, many coaches often seem “superhuman.” They come off as being too high up on the totem pole to interact with us “normal folk.” As for Brown, he really is just another one of the guys. His Appalachian raising makes him feel like he belongs, stating in his introductory press conference that everything about West Virginia “fits his DNA.” The fit of Brown in West Virginia has been perfect since the beginning. He is truly the “southern hospitality” personality the Mountaineers have needed at the head of the program.

I have personally had a couple “run-ins” with Head Coach Neal Brown. The first instance came at the 2019 Gold-Blue spring game in Morgantown. I had become used to coaches, and certainly the former head coach, ignoring any and all fans as they went to “tend to business.” However, I quickly learned this was not Brown. As my friends and I called out to the Head Coach, Brown made a beeline straight for us, and shook our hands. Not only was I engulfed with total excitement, but I was absolutely shocked. This revealed to me the kind of person the Mountaineers has just landed to helm the program. Not a coach, but a leader who knows we are all in this together.

The second “run-in” touched me the most. In early April this year, my family and I lost our aunt tragically. Our family was torn to shreds, and honestly did not even know how we would respond. That same day, the Mountaineer Football Twitter page posted a video of a pregame speech by Neal Brown. During this video, the head man would speak of adversity, and how dealing with adversity had made the Mountaineers a better team. I decided I would “at” the Coach, thanking him for these much needed words. I would explain in the tweet what our family was going through, and that this “pick-me-up” was what I needed at the time. I was not expecting Brown to see it, much less respond to it, but what would happen next meant more than any win Brown will ever bring to my favorite team.

 

Brown responded to my tweet expressing his condolences. It was at this moment, I was unquestionably sold on him. Brown is not only a damn good head coach in my eyes, but he is an all-around phenomenal human being.

West Virginia hopes Neal Brown will be here for the long haul. He may only be going into his second season, but with his hire, we have absolutely struck gold. The Mountain State needs an icon like Brown to be the beacon of what it truly means to be a Mountaineer. It is not about accomplishments, it is not about striving for your own popularity, it is about being here for one another and treating all with the upmost respect. Nobody could ever have us “Trusting the Climb” like Neal Brown, and it is simply because he cares.

Let’s Go Mountaineers!