OPINION: We Have a Mess in Morgantown

(Photo by WVU Athletics)

If you would have told me that the Mountaineer Football team would be in this position when Neal Brown was hired in 2019, I would’ve said there was absolutely no way. Things could never possibly get that bad. Not for the WVU Football program.

Well, folks, it’s a reality. Mountaineer Football is in shambles.

This began all the way back on April 22, 2021 – my 23rd birthday of all days. It was announced by WVU that Neal Brown had been signed to an extension. This would increase his salary and give him more time, but it would also give him an outrageously high buyout.

West Virginia was coming off of a 2020 season that saw them win the Liberty Bowl over Army, and field the nation’s best defense. The extension made sense at the time despite Brown only having an 11-11 overall record. Rumors were swirling that a team from the SEC could swipe up Brown, and WVU wanted to do everything they could to avoid that.  They really believed they had their man.

Since that day WVU has accumulated an 11-14 record, Shane Lyons has been fired, several star players have left through the transfer portal, and Brown is on the hot seat.

This is not exactly what the program had envisioned at all. In fact, this thing has went the complete opposite way.

Shane Lyons spoke with Hoppy Kerchival of MetroNews earlier today, and really shed some light on what is going on behind the scenes in Morgantown. Not only did Lyons claim that he felt betrayed by some at WVU, but it also sounds like his vision for the program doesn’t line up with those in charge now.

Lyons sees a positive trajectory with the program under Brown, and fears that a change could potentially set the program back up to three or more years. This isn’t necessarily the case in today’s College Football, but he had a very good point. Firing Brown now would almost certainly destroy the impressive 2023 class, and many star players on the current roster would leave.

For continuity’s sake, it makes all the sense to give Brown at least one more year.

But with WVU being quick to pull the plug on Lyons, it also puts Neal Brown on uncertain waters. His top advocate is now gone, and E. Gordon Gee will be bringing in a new mind to lead the athletic department. This not only leaves the future of Brown up in the air, but with the uncertainty flowing in the program now, you can almost bet some recruits will begin to look elsewhere.

Hell, who could blame them? Why would you go somewhere in the middle of major change? The coach you committed to could literally be gone the next day.

So here we are, in a complete and utter mess. If we’re being honest, WVU pulled the plug on Lyons way too soon, and should’ve given him the chance to re-evaluate at the end of the season. It would let the players have an idea as to where this thing could go next instead of stringing them along.

This situation isn’t right to players or recruits about to sign their next four years away. I’m afraid it will take more than a new athletic director to clean up this mess. We are in need of a giant overhaul in Morgantown.

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Clark Johnson
Clark Johnson is a Football Columnist for The Voice of West Virginia. He is a student at Concord University and is majoring in History with a minor in Political Science. He became a Mountaineer fan at 9-years old and has not missed a WVU football game since 2008. He is honored to bring new perspective and fresh content to the best fanbase in the nation!