Neal Brown’s Worst Mistake At West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia – Neal Brown has handled several difficult situations – the Vic Koenning/Kerry Martin fiasco, multiple players transferring, etc. –  with class and maturity.  However, one particular moment stands out as particularly hurtful to the West Virginia football program and was a real turning point for Brown.

After Vic Koenning was fired, Neal Brown had to make a decision about hiring a new defensive coordinator.  However, instead of hiring a defensive coordinator, he chose to name Jordan Lesley the defensive coordinator of the front of the defense and Jahmile Addae as the defensive coordinator of the back of the defense.

That season, in 2020, West Virginia’s defense was one of the best in the nation and ranked 4th nationally, giving up only 291.4 yards per game.  While this arrangement was successful at the time, Addae not being named the defensive coordinator caused a ripple effect that led to a downward spiral.

Addae, who was a four-year starter, two-time captain and two-time All-Big East defensive back for the Mountaineers, realized that he would not ever likely be named the Defensive Coordinator at his alma mater.  Addae then made the difficult decision to leave West Virginia to become the new defensive backs coach at the University of Georgia.

While Jordan Lesley has been a tremendous asset to the West Virginia football program,  choosing to promote him at the same time as Addae was a clear sign that Brown wasn’t ready to make either his defensive coordinator.

Jahmile Addae was beloved by his players and was ultimately the more valuable of the two coaches.  Given the fact that he was a former player at West Virginia, that alone should have made him the obvious choice.  When Addae left, that was the end of the climb and the beginning of the decline.

Tykee Smith, West Virginia’s overall best player and one of the top defensive players in the country, followed Addae to Georgia.  Another starter in the secondary, Dreshun Miller, transferred to Auburn.

If Addae was named the defensive coordinator at West Virginia, not only would Tykee Smith and Dreshun Miller still be Mountaineers, Neal Brown would have one of the top young defensive coordinators in the country who was a tremendous presence in the locker room and an even better recruiter.

Jahmile Addae, a real Mountaineer and a truly outstanding coach, was not treated with the respect he earned and deserved, and ultimately the decision to not name Addae the Defensive Coordinator at West Virginia will haunt Neal Brown for years to come.