MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — If West Virginia University were to fire Neal Brown right now, they would owe him approximately $13.5 million. Former director of athletics Shane Lyons made the horrendous decision to extend Neal Brown’s contract and give him a raise in 2021.
Since then, Brown has proven time and time again that he is not the right coach to lead the Mountaineers. With everything considered, I believe that Neal Brown deserves to be fired for the following reasons:
In his 5th season with the team, Neal Brown is 26-28 overall and 16-23 in the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia is one of the winningest programs in college football history and the last 5 years have been the worst in decades. While Brown and his supporters will point at COVID, NIL, the transfer portal, etc., as reasons why he hasn’t been successful, that is something that every coach in the country has had to deal with. You have to win games in college athletics and Neal Brown just hasn’t done that consistently enough to remain the team’s head coach.
While Brown has told fans to “trust the climb”, there has been little to no growth on or off the field during his tenure in Morgantown. West Virginia finished 5-7 in 2019, 6-4 in 2020, 6-7 in 2021, 5-7 in 2022 and is 4-3 this season. There’s just been no growth. Brown has, on the otherhand, created a culture of mediocrity at West Virginia. Fans no longer expect the Mountaineers to win games and honestly, it doesn’t appear that the players do either. Settling for another .500 or below record is unacceptable for a program that has been so successful historically.
In addition, while Brown supporters point at the culture within the locker room that he’s created as a positive, that means very little when you aren’t winning football games. It’s wonderful that players visit sick kids in the hospital and seem like genuinely nice people off the field, but ultimately none of that matters if the team goes 6-6 or 5-7 again, and that’s where we’re headed.
The Right Coach Can Turn it Around
As evidenced by Sonny Dykes last season at TCU and others around the country, college football is a very different game than it was a decade ago and the right coach can turn a program around instantly. Dykes took a team that was 5-7 in 2021 to a 13-2 record and a national championship appearance in his first season with the team in 2022. West Virginia is an outstanding job that a lot of terrific head coaches would love, and there’s simply no reason to waste more time with a coach that clearly is in over his head and will never get it done at the level that is expected in Morgantown.
$13.5 million is a lot of money, of course, but West Virginia must make the move now to prevent more losses and more damage to the football program.