MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons is pleased with Neal Brown’s progress in his first year as the Mountaineers head football coach, but also said that circumstances make it far too early to bandy about talk of a contract extension for Brown.
Lyons appeared on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval on Wednesday morning.
“All-in-all, if you look at what we were coming into [the season] as a team and the youth we had as a team, and looking at the way we finished out by winning two of the final three games to close out the season, winning a couple road games — which in the past we haven’t done well — I think the trajectory is going up,” Lyons said. “The assessment is what our tagline has been. We’re climbing higher.”
West Virginia finished 5-7 in Brown’s first year of a six-year contract. Lyons said that the cold reality is that record makes it difficult to reward Brown — yet.
“That’s probably not in the cards this year,” Lyons said. “He’s done a very good job. But at the same time, we have a 5-7 record. So it’s a matter of continuing to improve.
“I think if the trajectory continues on the way that it’s going, those are discussions that we’ll have in coming years.”
This year’s Mountaineers struggled mightily to run the football, finishing the regular season ranked 128th nationally in rushing yards per game.
However, West Virginia showed positive strides in multiple areas. WVU spent most of the year among the top 10 teams nationally in punt and kickoff coverage.
There were also noticeable defensive improvements. West Virginia is 22nd in the country in allowing plays of 20 yards or more, compared to 75th last season and 104th in 2017.