Morgantown, West Virginia – With the hiring of Wren Baker as the new director of athletics and the announcement that Neal Brown will return in 2023. Brown, who is 22-25, is undoubtedly in the crosshairs and his evaluation will continue throughout next season.
Neal Brown Will Have to Show Real Improvement
This is Neal Brown’s final chance. He’s had four seasons of mediocrity and disappointment, and despite what former AD Shane Lyons said recently, he’s been in Morgantown four full years. Every coach in the nation has had to face the very same challenges that he has and there will be no more excuses made for him moving forward.
With that said, anything less than a winning record and a bowl game would be considered failure. In fact, Baker may have even more lofty expectations for Brown. He may look at Brown’s performance over the past four years and demand 7 wins or 8 wins or even 9 wins in order for him to keep his job.
Brown, for the first time since arriving in Morgantown, will have real expectations. He no longer has his buddy Shane to fall back on and he doesn’t have COVID or NIL or any other excuses that he can make for his poor performance.
Assistant Coaches Will Be Fired
Brown hiring his friends instead of real, proven assistant coaches was one of the major downfalls of his time at West Virginia. Despite an obvious need to replace assistants over the past four years, Brown has been unwilling or unable to fire any of his friends.
Several assistants, namely Matt Moore (offensive line), Sean Reagan (tight ends), ShaDon Brown (defensive backs), Dontae Wright (safeties), Jeff Koonz (linebackers) are all friends of Brown who have no business coaching at this level of football.
Tony Washington, Jordan Lesley, Graham Harrell, Chad Scott and Andrew Jackson should all be evaluated by Mr. Baker based on their overall performance. Lesley has had strong defensive units during his time at West Virginia, but this past season’s performance was his worst yet. Harrell has likely not been given enough time to make a real determination about his future after only one season with the Mountaineers. And Washington, Scott and Jackson have been very solid assistants by all accounts.
Brown will now be the leader of the program and with new, proven assistants in place, he will trust them rather than micromanaging everything. It was clear that Graham Harrell was not calling plays in 2022. That will no longer happen. Brown will be held accountable for everything that happens on the field and he will have to start holding his assistants accountable as well.
West Virginia’s roster is even more challenging next season than it was this year. It will be extremely difficult for Brown to meet the high expectations of his new boss and ultimately, Baker will evaluate Brown not just on next season but also on his previous four seasons. Although many are disappointed that Brown is returning in 2023, his future in Morgantown looks very, very bleak.
— The Voice of Morgantown (@voicemorgantown) November 30, 2022