It would take a complete meltdown for WVU Head Coach Neal Brown to lose his job in 2023.
Morgantown, WV – For the last three years, fans from all across the Mountain State have been calling for Neal Brown to be replaced as the Head Coach of the WVU Football program. Since arriving in 2019, Brown has been subpar, finishing three of his four seasons with losing records, and missing a bowl game twice. He currently sits at 26-28 overall, and has yet to have the Mountaineers ranked in the AP Top 25 during his time in Morgantown.
This is simply not good enough for a football program as proud as West Virginia. However, this does not mean that he will be fired at the conclusion of the season.
In fact, I believe that Brown’s job is completely safe heading into 2024, barring a complete and utter meltdown in the second half of the season.
Let’s start with the obvious – this team was expected to be bad in 2023. The media picked the Mountaineers to finish dead-last in the Big 12 Conference, and some outlets even went as far to project them to have a one-win season. Despite recent struggles, the team was able to get off to a hot start winning four of their first five games. This puts them in prime position to qualify for bowl season down the stretch.
If Brown can lead WVU back to the postseason, and possibly even finish with 7 or 8 wins, it will be hard to make the argument to fire him.
Something else that will be considered is the talent on the team. Firing Brown likely means that many of his players will enter the transfer portal, leaving the Mountaineers’ cupboard even more bare to begin the 2024 season. WVU has a solid young core that has the opportunity to build off of a solid end of 2023 for future success.
It will be too difficult for Wren Baker to simply part ways with that.
Finally, the elephant in the room – the contract buyout. With Brown’s contract extension in 2021 came a hefty buyout for the next couple of years. If we are being honest, this is likely what prevented him from being shown the door following the 2022 season. Unless boosters and donors of the programs decide to flex their deep pockets, it is hard to fathom that the university will be willing to pay Brown off following the 2023 season (Brown’s buyout will be roughly $16 million if fired this year, according to The Smoking Musket).
Any negativity surrounding the program from fans is certainly garnered at this point. This is year five, and the program should be at this place. While it may spark some excitement to move towards new beginnings if things continue to go south, there is simply too much working against Brown’s departure at this time.
I could be wrong, as I have been many, many times before, but I will be shocked if Brown isn’t WVU’s Head Coach in 2024.
(Photo by WVU Athletics)