Saturday in Morgantown found a little bit of that Mountaineer magic fans, players and coaches alike needed after the Missouri loss the week before. The forecast proclaimed a chance of rain, the professionals said West Virginia was playing at home as the underdogs; just the right mix for some magic to happen.
From the start it was obvious that the Mountaineers are buying into their head coach Neal Brown’s philosophy and listening to what the man in charge says and based off of their week three performance, it’s paying off.
The Mountaineers are not the only Big 12 team with a new head coach, there’s three other teams in the same shoes. This week, the Mountaineers open Big 12 play and take on another new to the conference coach, Les Miles and his rising Kansas Jayhawks.
Miles is very clearly not new to coaching and his resume is one that does not need much review, with a reputation that proceeds him and a new streaming television series on ESPN+, Miles to Go. Coach Miles is also commonly referred to as the Mad Hatter throughout college football and seems to brought some of that madness to Lawrence, Kansas.
Miles and the Jayhawks finished out their non-conference schedule traveling just shy of 1500 miles to take on Boston College in a Friday night match up that many did expect to produce quite the outcome. The Mad Hatter was at it again, as the Jayhawks trounced the Eagles 48-24 and proved Miles still has.
This week, Coach Brown and the Mountaineers will travel approximately 950 miles to Lawrence with the hopes that the magic they concocted in Morgantown is enough to upturn the Mad Hatter’s cap. Both West Virginia and Kansas have been looked at as the bottom tier of the Big 12 for the 2019 season; with West Virginia’s widely known rebuilding year and Kansas . . . well, being Kansas.
Saturday’s match up in Lawrence will be the first step in climbing the Big 12 ladder of teams, and of pride. Both the Mountaineers and the Jayhawks are working on their uphill battle going into conference play and the matchup between the two teams, and their new coaches, is sure to be sixty minutes of entertainment. For one, Miles will likely be donning his Real Housewives-worthy National Championship ring that is both eye-catching and motivation-setting for players to be around. Secondly, this is Brown’s introduction into just what he’s signed up for; nine conference games where every week is a battle regardless of the location.
While neither Brown nor Miles are new to coaching, or the Big 12, they were both new faces to their teams prior to this season. Mannerisms, quirks, and personalities have to be learned and adapted to, with both coaches bringing something different to their teams. Miles brings his record, his background, his Mad Hatter persona and his joie de vivre for the game (remember the grass snacks?). Brown brings his calm and collected personality, family-first mentality, and his knowledge of the game and in-game planning (evidenced by Saturday’s kneeling instead of the PAT). Both coaches will be looking to secure their first conference wins of the season come Saturday with a game of the Mad Hatter versus the magic the Mountaineers manage to concoct.