'It fits my DNA,' WVU Coach Neal Brown says of his new job with Mountaineers

West Virginia University Coach Neal Brown makes his first public comments Thursday as the Mountaineers' new football coach. (West Virginia University Athletics)

Donning a blue jacket, gold tie and a flying WV logo, West Virginia University Head Football Coach Neal Brown said that he and his family decided he would take the job because the school and program fit their top three criteria – culture, vision and passion.

“It fits my DNA,” Brown said during a news conference Thursday in Morgantown when he made his first public comments.

After remarks introducing him by WVU President E. Gordon Gee and Athletic Director Shane Lyons, Brown said it was “an honor and privilege to stand before you today as the coach of WVU.”

The former Troy University coach takes over from Dana Holgorsen, who led the Mountaineers for eight seasons before taking a job as head coach recently at the University of Houston. Brown introduced his family at the news conference, including his wife, Brooke, and three children.

Brown said he and his family could tell quickly through their meetings with WVU officials that West Virginia is a special place, where great things can happen. He said the culture, vision and passion he and his family were looking for matched in so many areas, from the fact that WVU’s football program is the 14th winningest program in college football history to the hard working, blue collar people of West Virginia to the state’s anthem, “Take Me Home Country Roads.”

The coach also thanked the Troy community, the university and the players there who made many individual sacrifices to achieve great team success. During the last four seasons as the head coach at Troy University in Alabama, Brown led the Trojans to a 35-16 record and was 3-0 in bowl games.

Over the past three seasons, the Trojans went 31-8 and were tied for the highest winning percentage among FBS schools (.795).

Already at WVU, Brown said he has met with players. He said there will be three things in the program he will emphasize primarily – developing young men, making sure that players graduate and are set up to achieve their future endeavors and winning games.

Players, who he referred to as student-athletes multiple times, will always be the top priority while he is the head coach of the Mountaineers, Brown said.

“They are why we are here and what we do. This program will not be about me,” he said.

Brown said the expectations for WVU players will be to always carry themselves in a professional manner. He said they also will be expected to compete in every area, from the classroom to the field.

“We will have fun. I want our players to look forward to coming into the Milan Puskar Center. We will work hard, but we will have a good time,” Brown said.

The new coach invited former WVU great players to be involved in the program.

Brown made his first announcement about his staff. He said Vic Koenning, the defensive coordinator at Troy, will become the defensive coordinator for the Mountaineers' football program. He said other announcements about coaches joining his staff could be made in the next several days as contracts are finalized. He asked everyone to be patient, however, as he puts his staff together over the next several weeks.

As far as his playing strategy, he said WVU will get playmakers in space, take shots down the field, have a strong running game, play aggressive and be physical. Special teams also will be emphasized, Brown said, pointing out that Troy led the nation in efficiency on special teams.

When asked whether he hates Pitt, one of WVU’s longtime rivals, yet, Brown’s comments drew lots of laughs from those attending the news conference.

“They will not let you sign the contract until you dislike Pitt,” Brown said.

Gee, the WVU president, opened the news conference, welcoming the new coach and his family.

“This is a very special day, and a very special moment,” Gee said. “To the Brown family, West Virginia is a place of family.”

Lyons, the university’s athletic director, said the job interview with Brown lasted seven hours. He said he wanted a coach who, along with his family, embraced the university and program’s culture and embraced the mission. He said he also wanted someone who believes in the student-athlete experience, has a proven record on the field and a strong work ethic. He also said NCAA compliance is important.

“Every box I talked about was being checked by Neal Brown,” Lyons said.

The athletic director also said he likes the attitude of the teams that have been led by Brown.

“His teams play with a chip on their shoulder and with a blue collar mentality, which fits us perfectly,” he said.

Brown, who was officially named WVU’s 35th head football coach on Saturday, is one of just six FBS coaches to win 10 or more games in each of the last three seasons.

A native of Danville, Ky., Brown signed a six-year contract to be the Mountaineers’ head coach worth more than $19 million.

Brown's first game as the WVU head coach will be on Aug. 31 when the Mountaineers take on James Madison.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off