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Neal Brown Feels It’s Taken Years to ‘Cleanse’ WVU Football Locker Room



Neal Brown West Virginia

Even while talking about the future of the Mountaineers, WVU head coach Neal Brown still could not help but reflect on the past. During his press conference about his 2024 class on National Signing Day, Brown took a bit of a shot, inadvertent or intentional, at some of his former players.

Brown explained the importance of recruiting high character guys. He even mentioned how he tries to examine the character of the person while also evaluating the athlete. And Brown admitted that the reason he now is so concerned about the type of personalities he brings in the locker room is because of who was in there in the past.

Brown said it’s taken years to “cleanse” the locker room and he likes the type of character guys he has now. He then added that he wants to ensure he gets good character guys moving forward.

He didn’t call anyone out in particular, although that caused some former Mountaineers to wonder who their old coach was referring to, but it was clear Brown pressers the atmosphere around his current team, and the one he’s building for future seasons, to what he had in his first few seasons at West Virginia.

But using the word “cleanse” to describe what a coach feels needed to happen to a locker room is going to come off as hinting there were problems with team chemistry and the vibes weren’t the best. That’s not exactly surprising to be the case during a period Brown had an overall losing record at WVU prior to 2023, but it’s still not something everyone expects to hear during a conversation about a solid recruiting class.

The only caveat is that this isn’t the first time Brown has referenced dealing with locker room issues. When asked if he has any regrets from him time as leader of the Mountaineers by WVSN’s Mike Asti on a show before the 2023 season, Brown brought up wishing the current Transfer Portal existed back in 2019.

Brown said he may have tried to flip most of the roster in 2019 if it was possible at that time. 2019 was Brown’s first season with West Virginia and forced him to take over a team that saw most of its key contributors out of eligibility or pursuing the NFL. Apparently, some of those that were still around didn’t help to create the vibe Brown hoped to achieve.

“We would have flipped the roster more in 19. The rules weren’t the same, but if I had the rules that are there now, I probably would’ve been a little more aggressive,” said Brown. When asked to clarify if this thinking is due to the difference in system between Brown and Holgorsen, Brown said that would not have been the main reason.

Neal Brown Wishes He Could Have Flipped WVU’s 2019 Roster to Improve Culture

“No, it’s not that. There’s some things buy-in wise.” Brown then brought up the culture of the program, seemingly hinting at it not being what he wishes it was.

WVU went 8-4 in Brown’s predecessor Dana Holgorsen’s final season in Morgantown in 2018, but then finished the 2019 season with a 5-7 record. The next season in 2020 Brown did go 6-4, capping it off with the only bowl win of his time at West Virginia. His team finished 2021 at 6-7 with a bowl game loss and ended 2022 with a disappointing 5-7 record. Obviously, the vibes are better now coming off an 8-4 regular season.

Watch Brown’s full press conference below.

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