High School Football

Highlights from Neal Brown’s introductory WVU news conference

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — New West Virginia football coach Neal Brown had a lot to say in his first appearance in front of the media and a variety of West Virginia boosters.

Here are a few of the highlights from Brown as well as university president Dr. E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Shane Lyons.

WVU President E. Gordon Gee

On the importance of getting Brown’s hire right

“Our football program, our basketball programs and our athletic programs in general really do carry the flag of West Virginia, and they have done so successfully for a long period of time. Today is a very special day because we have a new flag carrier; a very special one.”

How his conversation with Neal and Brooke Brown made him realize this was the right hire

“We sought. We believed in it. He believed in us. Brooke believed in us. We had the most wonderful conversation, and for that, we are grateful.”

WVU athletics director Shane Lyons

On how long Brown has been on his radar

“Probably after the second year at Troy with the 10-win season. It’s hard to win 10 football games. I don’t care if you’re in the Group of Five or the Power Five. Then the second year he wins 10 ballgames as well. That was the year they beat LSU away. This year they beat Nebraska. I was watching constantly.”

“I probably watch games differently than most people. Watching the coach, their mannerisms, how they handle themselves with the press after a loss. How are their student-athletes performing on the field? Are they disciplined? All of that is in the evaluation across the board.”

On his surprise that other programs had passed on Brown

“I was kind of surprised watching some of the other searches that were out there. You’re thinking is this guy going to be gone — I didn’t know how high he was on the list, but he was on it. When our position became available, the good Lord works in mysterious ways. He was available as a coach, and we went after him.”

WVU coach Neal Brown

On importance of recruiting

“Championship football programs are built through recruiting and development. I grew up in this area; I’ve recruited this area. I know the type of players in our footprint. They will know who we are and what we’re about. Our coaching staff will be active, they will be visible. We have a tremendous product to sell here, and our staff will be expected to work extremely hard to evaluate, build relationships and close on the best prospects that fit our program. Keeping the best players in the state at home is a top priority.”

On where he plans recruiting outside of West Virginia

“We’ll recruit regionally. All the states that touch our home state. And then, obviously, we’ll have a really strong presence in the southeast. Alabama, Georgia and into the state of Florida.”

On discipline

“We will all be accountable. We will be disciplined on and off the field. This is not coach-speak. This is a program mandate from Day 1.”

Offensive philosophy

“We’ll be a fast-paced, attacking offense. We’re going to get playmakers in space and put points on the board. We’re a get-it-done offense, by any means necessary to win the game. We’re going to shots down the field, create explosive plays. We’re also going to be very physical up front, we’re going to run the football.”

Defensive philosophy

“We’ll be aggressive, playing fundamentally-sound football with one goal: getting the ball back. We want our players reacting, not thinking.”

On his coaching staff

“We’ll introduce staff in the next couple days. I will call plays. However, the structure of our offensive staff has yet to be determined.”

“It’s more important to get it right than get it done quickly.”

On his conversations with current players and signees

“What I told our players in our initial team meeting was I chose them. To me, coaching is about building relationships. They’re all our players now, and it’s about building relationships, understand who they are, what they are about. Understand that relationships are about love, care and trust. And it’s the same with the recruits that are signed. I had the opportunity to talk with each of them on the phone, and I look forward, as we build our staff, getting out and seeing them.”

“I think it was important for me to sit down and them to understand who I was as a person, and for me to get to know them.”

On leading with vulnerability

“I think that vulnerability is probably something that males, in general, struggle with, especially males in leadership. So, I think it’s important when you’re dealing with young people that they understand that you’re going to make mistakes.

“I always say this: As we get later in game weeks, a lot of times at the hotel before he go to the stadium, I’ll say, ‘Listen, I want you guys to play loose, I want you to play free. There probably won’t be anybody that makes any more mistakes today than me.’

“Now, I don’t tell them that I have to make more decisions than the rest of them, but probably nobody will make more decisions. It’s not necessarily when you make the mistake, it’s how you respond. But I think it’s important for our staff, it’s important for our players, all our support people, is to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. Don’t be scared to put yourself into a relationship, don’t be scared to put yourself out there and give it all you have.”

Why coaches should have fun instead of being hotheads

“I look at some people around this profession – I don’t want to be miserable. I get it. The pressure is high. The money is a lot. But at the end of the day, I’m coaching football. Come on. In a lot of ways, you don’t have to grow up. There’s work time and play time. You can do both. I don’t think there’s anybody having more fun than Dabo Swinney right now.”

On getting program alumni more involved

“This should be a visible part of our program. I want them to know they’re welcome here. Jeff Hostetler, who’s doing wonderful work with the Children’s Hospital. Marc Bulger, who reached out to me on Twitter. Tavon Austin, Major Harris, Pat [White], Darryl Talley, just to name a few. I want you all to come out and see us. Please be a part of what is going to be the next chapter of Mountaineer football.”

On the recruitment of transfer players

“You always have to be open-minded when you go about building your roster. You need to evaluate the grad transfer market. We have good recruiting ties in the junior college areas in Mississippi and Kansas. One thing we’ll do different is we’ll recruit those players for a year-plus, like you would high school players.”

Obligatory Pitt hatred

“They don’t let you sign the contract until you dislike Pitt.”

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