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Neal Brown: The Latest Rising Star of West Virginia Football

Neal Brown is an American college football coach and former player who is currently the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Brown has been leading the Mountaineers since 2019, after a successful stint at Troy University, where he won three bowl games and a Sun Belt Conference title. Brown is known for his innovative and fast-paced offense, his charismatic personality, and his ability to develop players and staff. In this article, we will take a look at Brown’s background, career, achievements, and challenges.

Neal Brown Background

Brown was born on March 11, 1980, in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Boyle County High School in Danville, Kentucky, where he was an all-state wide receiver. He played college football at the University of Kentucky under head coach Hal Mumme and his assistants, Mike Leach and Tony Franklin, before transferring to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He graduated from UMass with a degree in sport management in 2002.

Brown started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at UMass in 2003. He then worked as an assistant coach at Sacred Heart, Delaware, and Troy, before becoming the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2008. He was the youngest coordinator in the FBS at the time. He helped Troy win two Sun Belt championships and rank among the top offenses in the nation.

Career of Neal Brown

In 2010, Brown was hired as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech under head coach Tommy Tuberville. He implemented his NASCAR spread offense, which aimed to snap the ball within eight seconds after the previous play. He coached several record-breaking players, such as quarterback Seth Doege and wide receiver Eric Ward. He also earned national recognition for his coaching performance, especially in the 2011 upset win over Oklahoma, when he was named the Rivals.com National Coordinator of the Week.

In 2013, Brown returned to his alma mater, Kentucky, as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under head coach Mark Stoops. He faced a rebuilding challenge, as the Wildcats had gone 2-10 in the previous season. He improved the offense in terms of scoring, yards, and tempo, and recruited several talented players, such as quarterback Patrick Towles and running back Stanley Williams. He also mentored future NFL stars, such as wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. and tight end C.J. Conrad.

In 2015, Brown got his first head coaching opportunity at Troy, where he had previously worked as an assistant. He inherited a program that had gone 3-9 in the previous season and had not been to a bowl game since 2010. He turned the Trojans around in a remarkable fashion, leading them to four consecutive winning seasons, three bowl victories, and a Sun Belt championship in 2017.

He also achieved some historic feats, such as beating LSU in 2017, ending the Tigers’ 49-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, and finishing the season ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history. He also developed several NFL players, such as cornerback Blace Brown and wide receiver Damion Willis. He was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2017 and was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards.

In 2019, Brown was hired as the head coach of West Virginia, replacing Dana Holgorsen, who left for Houston. He became the 35th head coach in the program’s history and the first one with Kentucky roots since Jim Carlen in 1966. He faced a tough transition, as the Mountaineers had lost several key players, such as quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sills V, to the NFL.

He also had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the 2020 season. Despite the challenges, Brown has shown steady improvement, leading the Mountaineers to a 5-7 record in 2019 and a 8-4 record in 2020, including a win over Army in the Liberty Bowl. He has also recruited well, landing several four-star prospects, such as quarterback Garrett Greene and wide receiver Kaden Prather. He has also hired and retained a quality staff, such as defensive coordinator Chad Scott and tight ends coach Blaine Stewart, the son of former WVU coach Bill Stewart.

Achievements

Brown has achieved several accomplishments in his coaching career, both individually and collectively. Some of his notable achievements are:

  • Winning 65 games as a head coach, with a 65-45 overall record and a 4-1 bowl record.
  • Winning the Sun Belt Conference title in 2017 and the Sun Belt East Division title in 2018 with Troy.
  • Finishing the 2017 season ranked No. 22 in the AP Top 25 with Troy, the highest ranking ever for a Sun Belt team.
  • Beating LSU in 2017 with Troy, the first win over a ranked SEC opponent in school history and the first loss for LSU to a non-conference opponent at home since 2000.
  • Beating Army in 2020 with West Virginia, the first win over a ranked opponent since 2018 and the first bowl win since 2015.
  • Being named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2017 and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson, Paul “Bear” Bryant, and George Munger national coach of the year awards.
  • Coaching several players who went on to play in the NFL, such as Lynn Bowden Jr., C.J. Conrad, Blace Brown, Damion Willis, Will Grier, and David Sills V.

Challenges

Brown also faces some challenges in his coaching career, both on and off the field. Some of his current and future challenges are:

  • Competing in the Big 12 Conference, one of the toughest and most competitive conferences in college football, against teams like Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa State.
  • Developing a consistent and balanced offense, especially at the quarterback position, where he has used multiple starters in his tenure at West Virginia.
  • Improving the fan support and attendance at home games, which have declined in recent years due to various factors, such as the pandemic, the distance from other Big 12 schools, and the lack of marquee matchups.
  • Maintaining his staff and players, who may be lured away by other programs or opportunities, such as the NFL or the transfer portal.
  • Dealing with the uncertainty and instability of the college football landscape, which may undergo significant changes in the near future, such as conference realignment, playoff expansion, and NIL legislation.

Conclusion

Neal Brown is an American college football coach and former player who is currently the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Brown has been leading the Mountaineers since 2019, after a successful stint at Troy University, where he won three bowl games and a Sun Belt Conference title. Brown is known for his innovative and fast-paced offense, his charismatic personality, and his ability to develop players and staff.

He has achieved several accomplishments in his coaching career, such as winning 65 games, beating LSU and Army, and finishing ranked in the AP Top 25. He also faces some challenges in his coaching career, such as competing in the Big 12, developing a consistent offense, improving the fan support, and dealing with the uncertainty of the college football landscape. Brown is one of the rising stars of West Virginia football and one of the most promising coaches in the nation.

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Written by 365PodCast

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