Tuesday, July 17, 2019
Arlington, Tx. – West Virginia’s Head Coach Neal Brown made his press conference debut Tuesday morning as the second head coach to take the stage during this season’s Media Days. Coach Brown opened his conference out with his pride for representing the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia University football program here in Texas. Coach Brown gave a humble and honest approach to where his team is going into the season.
“Our players and staff, I can’t compliment them anymore of how they bought into what we’re doing and how we’re building our program. We’re young, very inexperienced. What we’re going to look like in the fall I’m not sure yet. I’m really not,” the head coach presented. “We have had 15 on- field practices. We’re going to be a group that really grows and improves as we go through our Big 12 Conference and what is a very challenging schedule, but I do like our guys. I like our guys. They’re hungry, very humble, and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Coach Brown opened the floor for questions from the media and was first asked about his warm reception from West Virginia and the West Virginia fanbase. His answer did not sugar coat anything, but was still humble and honest stating: “I think it’s because we’re undefeated. No, it’s a couple things. I think our marketing staff and the people within our administration have done a really good job presenting us to the state,” Brown said. “I think there is a lot of relate ability from Kentucky, Brooke and I, my wife, we’re five hours from our hometown and I can’t say enough about how we’ve been received, really, and not only myself and my family but also our staff and their families. It’s exciting. We’ve got our hands full.”
Brown pointed out that he was aware of the difficulty of his team’s schedule this season, as well as seasons past and still to come. Brown is not shocked by this strength of schedule, highlighting his awareness of the schedule when taking the job. What would interest most West Virginia fans was Coach Brown’s insistence on playing known, more geographic rivals given the team’s geographic location.
“I do think that we have to, being where we fit geographically. I think it’s important for us to play natural rivals, the series with Pitt is coming up, we play Virginia Tech. Some of those type games make sense because it’s hard for our fan base to travel, you know, so those geographic games and natural rivalries, I think they’re important for us to play.”
Coach Brown was impressed by one member of the media’s level of research, digging into a former player of his at Troy; Zacc Weldon, and how his recruiting helped the now West Virginia head coach.
“First of all, I’m impressed that you came up with Zacc Weldon. I’m really, really impressed with that. Zacc Weldon was a walk-on for us at Troy, because I’m sure you may be the only one in this room who knows who Zacc Weldon is, and I hope his mom is listening. Zacc Weldon was an S- back, what is a fullback in our system, and he walked on for us and ended up playing 40-plus snaps over the last 3 years. So good research,” Coach Brown said with a big smile. “The good thing about that is if you look at who we are as West Virginia University, who we are as a football program, who we are as a state, really at the core we’re hard-working, blue collar people that are prideful and that lends itself to finding guys like that, that are unselfish, they’re giving and so we’re in the hunt for that position. We’ve got a couple of guys that are competing to do that.”
Coach Brown’s final question again stayed on trend for the two days; asked about the four new coaches in the Big 12 and the levels of success had. Coach Brown answered his final questions before breakout sessions with “I think there were quality hires across the league. This is a league of tremendous coaches and really innovative coaches, guys that have won at different levels. I grew up in a family of educators, really been around sports almost all my life. What I really respect about the group of head coaches in this league is so many of them worked their way up from lower levels, lower positions and worked their way up to really the highest level of Power 5 college football.”
With that, Coach Brown left the stage relatively unscathed before continuing on in his first foray into Big 12 Media Days.