Morgantown, West Virginia – On the most recent episode of the Mountaineer Insider podcast, West Virginia’s Director of Athletics Shane Lyons opened up on a variety of topics, but none were more interesting than his reasoning behind giving West Virginia head football coach Neal Brown a raise and a contract extension at the end of last season after a 10-10 record in two seasons with the Mountaineers.
When asked about this, Lyons gave a long, candid, thorough answer saying, “You know, things don’t change overnight and I believe in Neal Brown and in his vision. I know what this football program can be. And I looked at it and felt like last Spring our football program was in good hands. I knew we were still young coming into this football season, but felt like Neal’s name had been brought up a couple of different times about other possibilities.
What I was trying to do was lock down Neal in case we had a better season than we did (this year). 6-6, I get it, people talk about the mediocrity, but we’re a couple of games also from being 8-4, 9-3, etc. If you look at the number of job openings this year, Neal Brown would have been a guy that would have easily been picked off from other schools. So I had to take his buyout to a higher amount but by doing that, I had to change the contract.
If that happened, the fanbase would be asking just the opposite. Why did you let this happen? If he had 9 wins and his name was mentioned a lot, people would’ve said ‘Why didn’t Shane Lyons do this earlier?’
I look at it just I like I do with everything in business. I believe his stock is going to continue to rise and I believe in what we’re doing as a whole. A lot of people just see what happens on Saturdays on the field, I get to see what happens seven days a week. Yes, it’s result-oriented and I’m not getting away from that, but it’s also a lot of other things that go into that.
Every time you make a coaching change, you’re setting yourself back at least another 3 years. So I’m looking at it as Neal is in year three of contract and I expect to really see the results in the next couple of years.
Going back to the recruiting class, he has the #22 recruiting in the country, the highest we’ve ever had, so the results of that should be in a couple of years that we’re going to be a lot better than a 6-6 team.”
Lyons may have made the worst decision of his career by extending an unproven head coach. If Brown is unsuccessful over the next couple of years, the university will be locked into a fairly large contract and will have a very difficult time firing him.
Clearly, rumors of Neal Brown having interest from high-profile schools like Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina were exaggerated. Lyons feeling the pressure to lock Brown down before a larger school stole him could prove to be a major misstep.
Despite the lack of success on the field right now, the Mountaineers have their best recruiting class ever coming in and Lyons expects results from the team in the next couple of years. It appears that Neal Brown has at least two more years to prove himself and get the team where it’s expected to be. Overall, it was great to hear Shane Lyons be so open and honest about his reasons for moving forward with Brown, but one has to wonder still if this was the appropriate decision to make at this time.