Morgantown, West Virginia – While Neal Brown has fairly faced criticism for his performance as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, it seems that the two people that matter the most in regards to his future, director of athletics Shane Lyons and West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, both still believe in Neal Brown and the direction of the football program.
After the Mountaineers started 0-2 with losses at Pitt and at home to Kansas, Lyons released a statement of support of his head coach: “I know and deeply care that our fans are frustrated with the start of the football season, but so are our coaches and student-athletes, who have busted their tails getting ready for the year.
As athletics director, I am as disappointed as the fans, but I see how much our coaches and players care and want to win and make our fans proud. Everyone involved knows that the on-field results have not met expectations and absolutely no one is satisfied. There are 10 games left in the season and the focus is still on getting the results that we all expect.”
Essentially, Lyons said that he still very much believed that the Mountaineers would turn their season around in the final 10 games of the season. Now, at 3-3 through the first 6 games, President Gee has also made a public statement of support for Brown.
In an interview with Mitch Vingle of Wheelhouse Creative, Gee had the following to say about the football program and Brown: “I think we’re playing in one of the most competitive leagues, if not the most competitive league top to bottom, so you we have to be prepared every week. Frankly, our football team is better than our record. We’re a few plays from being undefeated. So, I have great confidence in what we’re trying to do. We have to continue to trust the climb.”
Although fans of the team are clamoring for immediate results, it appears that the people with the most power at the university to make a coaching change remain patient and trusting of Brown, at least publicly.
Shane Lyons said prior to the season that he expects progress and for the Mountaineers to be competitive in the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia now has six regular season games to show progress. “Progress” would be a record better than last year’s 6-7 overall, 4-5 in the Big 12 Conference and a bowl game. With a very challenging schedule remaining, finishing the season with a winning record seems extremely difficult, but according to Lyons, that’s what it will take for Brown to show real progress and perhaps keep his job.