Nearly a week after Neal Brown was hired to be the head football coach at West Virginia University, Brown was able to address the media, boosters and fans late Thursday morning. After complimentary introductions from WVU president Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Shayne Lyons, Brown headed to the podium to address Mountaineer Nation.
As he stood in front of everyone and laid out his vision for the program, how he talked about the rich football history stuck out to me.
“What an honor and privilege it is to stand before you today as the head football coach at West Virginia University.” Boasted Brown during his opening statement. “It’s important to me to tell you why it’s such a privilege. We’ve had a lot of success over the last few years at Troy, that’s why I’m here. And when you have success it creates opportunities. And other schools want to talk about jobs. And when you get those opportunities, you get an opportunity to find out about that schools’ culture about their administrative vision and the fan bases passion for their program. Culture, vision, passion. Those are the three things that have always been very important to me and Brooke (Neal’s Wife).”
“Those are three criteria that have factored in to each move we’ve made and every opportunity we’ve evaluated over the years.” Continued Brown. “When I think about culture, when I think about vision, when I think about passion, I think about coach Nehlen and the incredible legacy he left here. Over two decades of success. And I appreciate the time he spent welcoming me to town and to this university Sunday afternoon. He provided great insight and I appreciate that.”
“I think about the 14th winningest program in all of college football. I think about the 15 conference championships. I think about the flying WV and the hard-working blue-collar people of West Virginia that WV represents. I think about ‘Country Roads’ and I think about one of the best environments in all of college football. West Virginia is culture and it is vision and it is passion. It fits my DNA.”
Listening to Neal Brown in his opening statements was a breath of fresh air. The Kentucky native had a deep understanding of the pride the state of West Virginia has for the football program and the university.
Brown stood tall as he talked about the history of Mountaineer football and could hear the pride in his voice. Knowing sacrifices players made to make the program what it is today, Neal wanted to let former Mountaineers, they’re welcome to come home.
“There’s been exciting former players” bragged Brown. This should be a visible part of our program. I want them to know they are welcome here.”
“Jeff Hostetler, he’s doing wonderful work with the Children’s Hospital. Marc Bulger who reached out to me on Twitter” Tavon Austin, Major Harris, Pat Harris (meant Pat White and has apologized for the mistake), Bruce Irvin, Darryl Talley, just to name a few. I want all former Mountaineer football players. Ya’ll come see us. Please be a part of the next chapter of Mountaineer football.”
Embracing the traditions, history along with former plays has seemingly won over the fan base early in his tenure. It’s more than just the words, it’s the conviction in which he says them.
Brown ended his statement with, “Cue Country Roads. Let’s Go Mountaineers!”