Morgantown, West Virginia – While the drums continue to beat louder every day for West Virginia to make a coaching change by firing head coach Neal Brown, the heat within the offices of director of athletics Shane Lyons and university president E. Gordon Gee is getting hotter and hotter.
Lyons, who has steadfastly supported Neal Brown since hiring him in 2019, remains optimistic that the Mountaineers will find a way to turn their season around and somehow finish in a positive way.
Neal Brown is now 20-23 overall and 12-19 in the Big 12 Conference, but according to sources close to the athletic department, Lyons has received tremendous heat and criticism from boosters and big donors that might push Lyons to make a move to fire Brown, particularly if the team loses 7 games and falls out of bowl game eligibility. West Virginia is currently 3-5 with a brutal Big 12 Conference schedule upcoming in which the Mountaineers are not favored to win any games, and so a bowl game seems very unlikely at this point.
However, Lyons wants nothing more than to give Neal Brown another year, his 5th in Morgantown, before deciding on the team’s future. Although he may be forced by boosters and donors to make a change, there are several reasons why Lyons wants Brown to remain the head coach through next season:
- Lyons Remains Hopeful About the Future of the Program
If West Virginia loses the remainder of their games, which is entirely possible, they will finish 3-9 overall. However, Lyons believes that if Brown can get through this season, the team has a lot of returning talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, and have a tremendous recruiting class incoming, and that next season is the year that he’s targeted to see real, tangible, authentic growth on the field.
2. Contract Buyout is a Concern
In addition, the massive contract buyout to fire Brown is hanging over Lyons like a dark cloud. He no doubt regrets the contract extension and raise that he gave Brown, but at this point, he has to show him unrelenting support or he would essentially be admitting that the decision he made in regards to extending Brown was a huge mistake. This, of course, would put Lyons on the hot seat as well, as it would inevitably cost the university a huge amount of money to fire Brown.
3. Lyons Knows that His Future is Now Tied to Neal Brown’s Success
Lyons is likely going to take a major beating from the West Virginia fanbase and major donors this year and throughout the offseason, but ultimately it’s his hope that the Mountaineers will somehow find a way to make this season a success, and if they fail, that he can weather the storm until next year when he expects the team to be much-improved.
Although firing Neal Brown is clearly what’s in the best interest of the football program, Shane Lyons does not want to admit defeat and knows that his own future at the school is now tied to Neal Brown’s success or failure as the head coach of the Mountaineers.