Cover Photo: Kenny Kemp, Gazette-Mail
Morgantown, West Virginia – Neal Brown’s days as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers are numbered. Multiple reports and sources have suggested that Brown will likely be fired at the end of the season, regardless of how the team performs in its remaining games.
The main sticking point with firing Brown has been the massive contract buyout that he was given by director of athletics Shane Lyons. West Virginia will owe Brown approximately $16 million if/when he is fired after this season. It’s been suggested that the university could not afford to pay such a large amount of money and would be unwilling to fire Brown because of that.
However, according to a report by Brandon Marcello of 247 Sports, paying the contract buyout is not an issue at all for West Virginia University. In Marcello’s “2022 Coaching Carousel: Ranking Coaches on the Hot Seat”, Neal Brown’s seat is listed as “Warmer” and he is the #2 most likely head coach to be fired.
“Brown’s $16 million payout is not an issue for WVU’s pocketbooks, we’re told,” Marcello said. If true, this seemingly eliminates any obstacles in the way of firing Neal Brown.
In addition, Marcello went on to suggest that Shane Lyons could also be in trouble. “What is interesting to watch is whether boosters and power players tie athletics director Shane Lyons to Brown’s hip and if so that could make this decision more difficult as it would open up the possibility of completely revamping the department with a new athletics director and a new football coach.”
Boosters have reportedly been very unhappy with Lyons, primarily due to the fact that he extended Neal Brown’s contract and gave him an extension after an 11-11 start with the Mountaineers. This put the university in a tremendous financial mess and many donors feel that he should be held accountable for potentially costing the school millions and millions of dollars.
If Lyons wants to save himself, he has to not only fire Neal Brown, he has to also convince major boosters that he will hire the right head coach next time and get the football program back to prominence immediately.