MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Neal Brown is currently 27-28 overall and 17-23 in the Big 12 Conference as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, and there is a lot of speculation as to whether he will be back to lead the team in 2024. Here are my reasons why West Virginia should and should not fired Brown following the season.
Why West Virginia Should Fire Neal Brown
If West Virginia University were to fire Neal Brown right now, they would owe him approximately $13.5 million. Former director of athletics Shane Lyons made the horrendous decision to extend Neal Brown’s contract and give him a raise in 2021.
Since then, Brown has proven time and time again that he is not the right coach to lead the Mountaineers. With everything considered, I believe that Neal Brown deserves to be fired for the following reasons:
In his 5th season with the team, Neal Brown is 27-28 overall and 17-23 in the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia is one of the winningest programs in college football history and the last 5 years have been the worst in decades. While Brown and his supporters will point at COVID, NIL, the transfer portal, etc., as reasons why he hasn’t been successful, that is something that every coach in the country has had to deal with. You have to win games in college athletics and Neal Brown just hasn’t done that consistently enough to remain the team’s head coach.
While Brown has told fans to “trust the climb”, there has been little to no growth on or off the field during his tenure in Morgantown. West Virginia finished 5-7 in 2019, 6-4 in 2020, 6-7 in 2021, 5-7 in 2022 and is 4-3 this season. There’s just been no growth. Brown has, on the otherhand, created a culture of mediocrity at West Virginia. Fans no longer expect the Mountaineers to win games and honestly, it doesn’t appear that the players do either. Settling for another .500 or below record is unacceptable for a program that has been so successful historically.
In addition, while Brown supporters point at the culture within the locker room that he’s created as a positive, that means very little when you aren’t winning football games. It’s wonderful that players visit sick kids in the hospital and seem like genuinely nice people off the field, but ultimately none of that matters if the team goes 6-6 or 5-7 again, and that’s where we’re headed.
The Right Coach Can Turn it Around
As evidenced by Sonny Dykes last season at TCU and others around the country, college football is a very different game than it was a decade ago and the right coach can turn a program around instantly. Dykes took a team that was 5-7 in 2021 to a 13-2 record and a national championship appearance in his first season with the team in 2022. West Virginia is an outstanding job that a lot of terrific head coaches would love, and there’s simply no reason to waste more time with a coach that clearly is in over his head and will never get it done at the level that is expected in Morgantown.
$13.5 million is a lot of money, of course, but West Virginia must make the move now to prevent more losses and more damage to the football program.
Why West Virginia Should Not Fire Neal Brown
As previously stated, West Virginia still owes Brown approximately $13.5 million and that’s a lot of money, particularly for a school that is already drowning in debt. If West Virginia fires Brown, they would have to be able to pay a whole new head coach and coaching staff, and that would not be easy for the university to do.
Neal Brown Has Built a Solid Culture
Say what you will about Brown but his players have bought into what he’s selling and the culture is really very solid. Players seem happy at this time and no one has quit on Neal Brown yet. In addition, West Virginia’s current players seem to be legitimately good kids who do not embarrass the university off the field.
Neal Brown is a Good Representative of West Virginia University
Again, say what you will about Neal Brown but you don’t have to worry about him being involved in a scandal, cheating on his spouse or getting arrested for being drunk in a casino. He lives and breathes football, and doesn’t seem to have much of a personal life. Because of this, Brown will never do anything that will shine a poor light on the university, other than lose football games.
West Virginia Could Lose Players on the Current Roster if Neal Brown leaves
The Mountaineers have a very solid core group of players returning next season and if Brown is fired, West Virginia risks losing some or many of those players. I personally believe that most would stay, but there is always some turnover when a coach is dismissed and a new coach is hired.