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Asti: WVU Made Former AD Shane Lyons a Scapegoat, But That’s Okay

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Shane Lyons clearly feels like he was scapegoated by West Virginia University. And quite honestly, he’s right, but that doesn’t mean his removal wasn’t still warranted.

“I’ll always be a West Virginian. Can’t take that away from me. West Virginia University…I’m still gonna support. I’m disappointed the loyalty to some people…” Lyons said to WV Metro News’ Hoppy Kercheval in his first interview since parting ways with WVU.

“There will be bitterness there,” said Lyons. Then when asked if he meant WVU president Dr. Gordon Gee: “Yes.” He then added, “They call themselves friends and did blindside. That’s not the way I do business.”

It’s pretty obvious Lyons isn’t happy about being fired and that it wasn’t something he was expecting to happen until closer to the hammer actually coming down. But it’s also clear that no matter anyone’s opinion of Lyons, a reasonable person can see right through the actions of WVU. Firing an athletic director when your football program has produced the same number of losing seasons in a four-year stretch as it had the previous two decades isn’t controversial or surprising, but when he’s the only man to go and it happens in a manner that blindsides the departing person, it comes off as incorporating a fall guy.

Former WVU AD Shane Lyons Offers Honest Feelings About Neal Brown, Football Program

Some type of change needed to be made. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity and it’s only natural to switch things up, even a little bit, in the midst of falling below expectations. However, WVU’s opinion on the matter and of the football program are becoming increasingly evident. WVU knew some change had to occur. But WVU was not sold on that change being head coach Neal Brown. So WVU deemed it necessary to scapegoat Lyons, fair or not, and there’s an argument it’s fair since his tenure was far from the greatest athletically, especially football wise and that’s the most important program to worry about.

Asti: WVU Football Fans Should Expect More, But Need to be Reasonable

Now Lyons made it known that he supports having Brown return. “You make a coaching change, you’re taking 3 years backward steps. You’re not moving forward. You’re going to lose kids to the portal. You’re going to lose a very good recruit class that he has right now,” said Lyons, making it clear he would retain Brown if it was still his decision. He also labeled the 2022 season as Brown’s second season and not his fourth due to taking over a depleted roster and having to deal with the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, although oddly enough, the 2020 season is the year that led to Brown’s only bowl win with the Mountaineers.

While Lyons does make a solid point about potentially taking a step back in recruiting, the pandemic was not exclusive to WVU by any means, making using that as an excuse not something people are going to want to hear.

Decisions on the coaching staff, beyond just Brown himself, could still come. And if they do, maybe then it won’t feel as if Lyons was a scapegoat as much, but as things stand now and based on reports about Brown continuing on for at least another year, Lyons took the bullet for everyone and the university made the call to start at the top down and then re-evaluate from there.

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