West Virginia did not need a lot of time to replace Dana Holgorsen. Only a few days after Holgorsen left Morgantown for Houston, the Mountaineers have hired Troy's Neal Brown as their next coach. The school officially announced the hire Saturday.
"I am excited that Neal Brown and his family have decided to call West Virginia University their next home," said athletic director Shane Lyons. "When I started this national search, I learned very quickly that he checked all the boxes of what I was looking for in our next football coach. There is no question that the Mountaineers are West Virginia's team, and I know our fans are going to love his energy, passion, work ethic and excitement that he is going to bring to our program. I look forward to working together and supporting him and his staff to bring championships to Morgantown."
Brown comes to West Virginia after four seasons at Troy in the Sun Belt Conference. Brown went 35-16 overall with the Trojans, but that includes a mark of 31-8 the last three seasons and 20-4 in conference play with a Sun Belt championship in 2017. Brown's teams also picked up major nonconference road wins against both LSU in 2017 and Nebraska this past season.
Brown, who is only 38, is a native of Danville, Kentucky, which is roughly a six-hour drive from Morgantown, and began his college playing career at Kentucky before transferring to UMass.
According to a Yahoo report, West Virginia interviewed Brown twice this week, and school officials were impressed by his "charm and charisma." In Morgantown, Brown will inherit a team that went 8-4 this season, but loses a lot of key contributors, including quarterback Will Grier and leading receiver David Sills. While it's not a full-on rebuild, odds are Brown will need some time to change the identity of the team. Like Holgorsen, Brown comes from Air Raid roots in his coaching tree, but his teams at Troy were not of the Air Raid variety. They were built more on physicality on both sides of the ball, and Brown's Troy teams ran the ball more often than they passed. The Trojans ran the ball on 55.4 percent of their offensive plays in 2018, which ranked 49th nationally. West Virginia ranked 114th, running the ball 46.1 percent of the time.