The second year for a college football coach can be an important one. After a full calendar year of implementing their philosophies and ways of doing things, the program really starts to become theirs.
Throughout the 5-7 first season under Neal Brown, you could start to see the West Virginia football program take the shape Brown wants. As the season went on, more young players started to produce, veterans seemed to take more responsibility and the team continued to improve on the field.
Brown’s enthusiasm and dedication has WVU fans excited for the 2020 season if nothing else just to see what the program will look like after a full year of Brown’s leadership. The COVID-19 outbreak and the cancelation of the Spring period, however, have put those expectations on hold for right now.
“As far as expectations and all that kind of stuff (for the 2020 season), we’re just waiting through it,” Brown said on a video call Wednesday morning. “We need to win operating the program remotely.”
Brown said making sure the team wins during this remote period is more important than worrying about winning football games in the Fall.
“What does that look like? I think it’s everybody staying healthy, I think it’s everybody staying safe, I think it’s growing our relationships, I think it’s doing well academically,” Brown said. “I think it’s making sure we continue, from a nutrition standpoint, maintaining out body weights when we left, I think it’s being in some type of shape for when we return, not to go backward we can hit the ground running whenever we get back.”
Brown said he has been extra aware of the mental health and wellbeing of his players and staff. He said everyone is in different situations so it is important to be aware of what everyone is going through. Brown said the second he sense and kind of frustration or distress from someone, they immediately pull back from the football stuff and focus on the person.
That is not to say there is no progress being made to improve the program, however.
“This, from a coach standpoint, has made us better teachers,” Brown explained. “It’s allowed us to inspect what we expect and be better at that. How do we quiz, how do we make sure these guys are getting the material we’re trying to teach. I do think, as coaches, we’ve improved as teachers and we’ll continue to grow as we do this virtual learning.”
When this all blows over and they can get back to team activities, is when Brown says he will starting worrying about winning games.
“We’re focused on winning this time right now, when we actually get back to the football aspect, we’ll start worrying about that then.”