What I Think After Another Loss Like That

What I Think After Another Loss Like That

West Virginia v Kansas State
Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

I rarely do this but here is Brown’s post-game press conference. You can listen to the coach and make your own conclusions here but from a guy who’s job requires him to be able to read a room and maintain conversations and relationships, I can sense a coach who is feeling pressure and understands that he is feeling the heat on his seat. I take issue with his statements here but Brown isn’t just speaking to the media in his video, he’s speaking to donors, administration and fans. He’s trying to save his job.

“Its Technique, Not Effort”

Neal Brown was brought into his team to be the anti Dana Holgorsen. He was brought in to be a coach who focused on the details, who managed the game and developed players and techniques. After two years and ten games, what exactly does this team do better than it did against Maryland? What does it do better than what it did against James Madison in 2019?

Brown says in his post game that its not an “effort” issue but that players just aren’t playing with technique. He says that they practice takeaways everyday and they practice tackling everyday. Since I’m not privy to practices I’m saying this as a general coach – if it isn’t working it becomes a coaches job to change it up. Guess what – as a baseball coach I can tell my players until I’m blue in the face that the play goes to first base but if in a game the second basemen continues to throw to second because he sees the runner that isn’t his fault. That is my fault as a coach for not fixing the issue. Find new ways to get the point across. If players are not doing the proper technique you need to find a new way to teach that technique.

And if I may – put yourself in the position of a West Virginia football player. This coach is telling you to do X to win the game. You’ve done that for 32 games and its resulted in a 5-7 season, 6-4 season and now a 4-6 season. Are you thinking that the technique is correct?

“___ Didn’t Beat Themselves, We Did”

Ahh, the same old adage, week in and week out. Rinse and repeat. The other team simply sat back, waited for West Virginia to implode and reaped the rewards. This time it was Kansas State. If you wanted to isolate the game, you could simply believe that this game was frustrating but the players could clean up the miscues and we could move on, but the old adage of “You are who you are” applies after 10 games and when you’ve lost 6 games (and should have lost maybe a 7th to Virginia Tech), its not on the players who beat themselves.

Whatever the coaches are doing isn’t working. There is a reason we continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. Maybe its because its in the DNA of the players – but if that’s the case, why are the same players on the field every week? Maybe its the messaging and how its being received, but that comes down to who is delivering the speech. Whatever the case is, it is a coaches responsibility to figure it out and change it. Where is the change?

Where Is The Change?

It’s obvious at this point in the season that Doege is going to finish out the season as QB1. No amount of calls for a backup quarterback is going to replace him, however, the Mountaineers just went a stretch where they scored a touchdown with 9:25 left against Iowa State and didn’t score a touchdown again until 6:02 in the third quarter against Kansas State. The problem being they played a game in between. That is a stretch of 108 minutes of game play, 6+ quarters of football, and three games.

What did we do to correct, change or fix that issue? The same players played everywhere. Leddie Brown carried the ball every time until the final minute of this game. The same quarterback played and experienced the same problems. The offensive line continued to block and then not block. Receivers got open, then got covered. We ran some plays, and then never ran them again.

WHAT ARE WE DOING? There seems to be a belief that it isn’t the scheme and it isn’t the effort its the technique and execution. How long is it going to be the technique and execution. How long are we going to do the same things and teach the same things and then tell the fans that its not what I’m selling, its the fact points they won’t do what they need to do. Its not me, its them.

Next Week and Next Year

Next week is the final home game of the season. How many fans are showing up? Your team is 4-6 and still theoretically can make a bowl game – likely a bowl game you won’t attend because it will be halfway across the country played in the middle of December on a Tuesday at 3 PM. This may be your last game to see in person this year but the team is 4-6 and is going to play a team that is also 4-6 and just lost to Kansas. When the team was 3-4 and playing the #22 team in the country, 45,000 showed up and since that game the team responded by losing to Oklahoma State badly and giving away a game to Kansas State. Are you spending your money to see this team next week?

What about next year? Are you spending money to see this team, with this coaching staff and this quarterback play:

  • Towson
  • TCU
  • Baylor
  • Kansas
  • Kansas State
  • Oklahoma

Do any of those games move the needle for you? Are you excited about 2022?

This Isn’t Fun

Look, I know Neal isn’t getting fired this year. I get that he likely isn’t getting fired next year because the buyout is 20M for this year (100% of the remaining amount on his contract) and its 16M for next year. Even after 2023 its still 12M and that may be too rich for West Virginia. So I’m not calling for Neal to be fired because I understand logistically it isn’t on the table. Maybe that’s a problem but that’s another conversation.

My issue comes down to that West Virginia isn’t fun. Let me say it out loud, yes I had more fun losing 50-49, 59-56, and any other shootout, because at least there existed a chance. There were big plays to be excited about. There were takeaways. There were things to see improvement in and believe yes, if we fix this one item, we might win. We also were losing to some of the all-time best teams schools have had in decades. We went toe to toe with Oklahoma twice, once when they finished 10-2 and played in the Cotton Bowl and once when they went 12-1 and made the College Football Playoffs. We went toe to toe with Alabama Week One 2014 and did not get shellacked. Take a look at who Alabama plays week one and see the scores. The only other time a team didn’t get run out of the building at halftime was 2009 Virginia Tech.

In between those games, we got games like 2012 Texas, 2018 Texas, 2014 Baylor, etc.

I want to have fun watching this team. I want to be proud to watch this team. I want to enjoy the highs and lows of the game. I want to live and die with this team. I do not want to be tuned out of the game five minutes in because its already 14-0 and I’m certain the offense can’t get out of its own way to overcome that deficit. #MakeWestVirginiaFunAgain #MWVFA