Morgantown, W.V. – Since taking over as head coach of the Mountaineers, Neal Brown has implemented many subtle and not so subtle changes to and new ideas to the program and has also given his players a little more freedom in their own decision making for the team. One visible change that fans could see during Saturday’s home opener? No jerseys during pregame warmups.
Saturday’s pregame without pads and jerseys first made it harder for fans to identify players on the field. The players were conducting their normal, weekly pregame warmups without their numbered jerseys, but rather with t-shirts emblazoned with the what has now been identified as the team motto for the season, “Trust the Climb.”
Head Coach Neal Brown addressed the pregame attire during his Tuesday coach’s conference when asked why players were warming up without pads. Brown pointed out the idea came from his days at Troy, where players were warming up and playing in extreme Alabama heat. Brown went on to point out that his players were losing water weight during warmups and making the decision to not put pads on until game time kept his players more fresh for the first snaps of the game.
Brown presented the idea to his team’s Leadership Council, another new concept the head coach has implemented, explained what his players did during his time at Troy and let his players decide. The players liked the idea of the new attire, feeling it may give them a leg up or a bit of a mental advantage going into the game.
For Brown, if it helps his players feel like they have an advantage, be more mentally prepared as well as physically prepared, the head ball coach is all about it.
Coach Brown has taken a different approach to some of the decision making for his team, deferring back to his players and their Leadership Council on matters that don’t necessarily affect the head coach. The pregame attire being one, music they want to listen another.
As the season goes on, it will be interesting to see what other decisions Brown defers to his players and what other changes will be made. One thing is for sure, fans are going to have to identify players more by their faces before the games than their numbers.