The Morning After: Placing the Blame Where it Belongs

Morgantown, West Virginia – Typically, when West Virginia has played poorly in recent years, the offensive line takes the blame from coaches and fans alike.  “The offensive line” is a vague, general excuse for the offense struggling.  It’s not one person, it’s the “entire offensive line.”

West Virginians do not like to place the blame on just one person.  After all, these are “just kids” and they’re “out here doing their best for our state.”  That is a commendable sentiment by the good people of West Virginia but it’s in no way accurate or representative of what’s happening in reality.

There are people – actual individuals – who have negatively impacted the West Virginia football program.

Neal Brown

Let’s start with the man himself, Neal Brown.  Brown had great intentions when he came to Morgantown 3 years ago, but he has failed.  That’s not an opinion or anyone driving a narrative, it’s a factual statement rooted in his 15-16 record since he’s been the head coach of the Mountaineers.  By any measure, a below .500 record is failure.  

Brown’s Trust the Climb has an expiration date and it’s nearing that date now.  Improvement is expected at some point and there simply hasn’t been any improvement from last year to this year.  In fact, West Virginia has regressed in virtually every way since last year’s team that finished 6-4 with a bowl win.

West Virginia does have its best recruiting class ever scheduled to arrive next season, but Brown has made it clear that he’s uncomfortable playing young players.  Just ask Kaden Prather, Garrett Greene, Justin Johnson, etc.  At what point will we actually see the future of the program on the field?  

Again, Brown has had great intentions, but he’s lost several key players to transfer, he has made questionable play calls and personnel moves on the field and the team just hasn’t gotten any better.

Shane Lyons 

When Lyons offered Neal Brown a two-year contract extension that will run through 2026 and gave him an almost $1 million a year raise, Brown was 10-10 as the head coach of the Mountaineers.

Lyons said the following upon giving Brown a raise: “I’m pleased with the upward trajectory of the program and its culture.”

Is the program still in any way on an “upward trajectory?”

Giving Brown a raise and an extension for mediocrity was a mistake that Lyons must own.

Jarret Doege 

Although he’s “only a kid”, he’s a 5th year starter and a lot of the blame for the poor performance of the Mountaineers this season should be placed on Jarret Doege.

By all accounts, Doege worked hard in the offseason to improve his body, mechanics and pocket presence, but unfortunately it just hasn’t shown up on the field.  Again, Doege is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the history of college football and there should be some growth.  Instead, he continues to make the same mistakes and his numbers continue to decline.

While it’s easy and convenient to blame the offensive line for the team’s struggles, Jarret Doege’s lack of mobility and pocket presence makes it impossible for the West Virginia offense to be successful. Every quarterback in college football faces pressure, but most can scramble and make things happen outside of the pocket.  Doege puts his head down and takes sacks.

Playing Jarret Doege one more down for the rest of the season just doesn’t make sense for the future of the West Virginia football program.  This season is lost and Neal Brown must give Garrett Greene or Will “Goose” Crowder an opportunity to prove themselves.