Neal Brown A Big Hit At His Introductory Press Conference At WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia’s new head football coach Neal Brown looked out over the standing room-only crowd crammed into the team room in WVU’s Puskar Center assembled for his introductory press conference Thursday morning and had one hope.
“I stood on this stage Sunday night,” the former Troy head coach said in regards to his first meeting with the Mountaineer players four days before. “I was looking at a group that was bigger, stronger and faster than the one I’m looking at now – they had better be.”
Brown’s comments drew laughs from the assemblage made up primarily of media, athletic department employees and WVU administrators. There wasn’t a 4.4 in the bunch, and those that topped 300 pounds weren’t exactly finely-honed athletes, but Brown’s comments resonated with the many non-athletes who made up Thursday’s audience.
Also in attendance where Brown’s wife, Brooke, their three children – Adalyn (10), Anslee (7) and Dax (3) – as well as his parents, his sister and his wife’s parents.
For 28 minutes Brown stood at the podium imparting wisdom, answering questions and drawing laughs.
People like to talk about coaches winning the press conference, and certainly Thursday’s performance by the new Mountaineer coach was a blowout victory.
He explained things he stressed when he met with the team on Sunday.
“West Virginia is going to be about three things,” noted Brown, who has signed a six-year, $19,050,00 contract with the Mountaineers. “No. 1, we are going to develop young men. I love football; I am passionate about football. Football has given me every opportunity I have had in my life, and I think it’s a tool to develop young men. No. 2, we’re going to graduate student-athletes and set them up for future endeavors. And No. 3, we’re going to win football games.
“We accomplish these goals by being a player-first program. We will build our program around our student-athletes. They are why we are here and why we do what we do. This program will not be about me or the other coaches or staff. Anyone who touches this program, it’s our job to help our student-athletes develop in all phases.
“But to those who much is given, much is required. That is true with Mountaineer football,” he continued. “We will provide our student-athletes with every resource needed to be successful both in the classroom and on the field, and that said, our expectations for our student-athletes will be very high. We will ensure they carry themselves in a manner that makes us all proud. We will all be accountable, and we will be disciplined both on and off the field. This is not just coach-speak, but it is a mandate.”
Brown said that he was still in the process of building his staff. Vic Koenning, who served as Troy’s defensive coordinator the past four years, will follow Brown to WVU, stated the new Mountaineer head coach. Brown added that he’s still piecing together the rest of his staff and wasn’t ready to announce any other hirings yet, except for the defensive coordinator.
“Putting together a staff is our priority, but getting it done right is more important than getting it done fast,” Brown stated.
While Brown learned his football from the Air Raid disciples of Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, he’s adapted his offense into what he calls a “get it done” style. His clubs still throw it a lot, but they now run much more than the original Air Raid architects.
He also preached special teams and defense, but the one area Brown emphasized the most was to enjoy what you’re doing.
“We’ll have fun, and it’s important to have fun,” he stated. “It’s about playing, playing football. I want our players to look forward to coming into the Puskar Center. That doesn’t mean we won’t work hard; we will. But we’re going to enjoy ourselves as we go through the process of getting better.”
West Virginia signed 16 recruits during the early period last month prior to Dana Holgorsen’s departure as WVU’s head coach. Brown said he’s already spoken to each of those 16, as he attempts to solidify the class. He’s also in the process of getting to know the returning players, and he’s excited to continue the work of building the Mountaineers.
“Championship football programs are built through both recruiting and development,” Brown said. “A program is only as good as it’s players.”
The 38-year-old Brown is WVU’s 35th head coach all time. He posted a 35-16 record in his four seasons leading Troy, including a 31-8 record the past three years, which also included a 3-0 mark in bowl games.
While Brown may be new to West Virginia, he’s already learned about the Mountaineers’ long-time rival. “They don’t let you sign the contract until you dislike Pitt,” he chuckled.
If Brown remains at WVU through 2022, he’ll get a chance to experience the Backyard Brawl, as the football rivalry will be renewed in four years.