West Virginia fans are getting restless with the Mountaineers off to another slow start. While the season is far from over and there’s still a chance head coach Neal Brown could turn things around enough to gain some trust back, many feel the future of the program is currently in doubt and a change needs made.
This leads to the question on everyone’s mind whenever anyone brings up the possibility of a coach being fired – who should replace him?
So for a hypothetical, and understanding Brown’s buyout situation and strong recruiting class will likely factor in him returning next season no matter what, if WVU does move on from Brown, who should take over the job? That’s a whole debate in and of itself.
West Virginia natives Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher were not included due to either of them coaching WVU next season being incredibly unlikely, and yes, that is the case regardless what Fisher said about “never say never” when asked about coming home.
Tony Gibson has obvious West Virginia and WVU ties. These are so strong for him and his family, there’s almost no way he would not jump at the chance to lead the Mountaineers. After running stellar defense during his second tenure in Morgantown from 2014 to 2018, he moved on and has helped to build North Carolina State into a ranked team, mostly due to success on defense. He was nominated for the Broyles Award, which is warded to the nation’s top assistant coach in 2021.
Matt Rhule’s name wasn’t being brought up until the Carolina Panthers decided to fire the former college coach after a 1-4 start. It’s fair to argue the Panthers’ struggles were not entirely his fault based on the roster he was working with, but it’s also possible he’s more of a fit as with a college program. Rhule made his name with another Big 12 program, in fact the one WVU is playing this week in Baylor, and used his only great season in 2019 to get to the NFL. The Bears won 11 games before losing in the Sugar Bowl. Despite not that much success wins wise besides the 2019 season at Baylor, Rhule is credited with building back up the program that was on the heels of scandal and being partly responsible for Baylor’s conference title year in 2021. Prior to Baylor, Rhule had back-to-back 10 win seasons at Temple.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 10, 2022
Would Rhule see WVU as an attractive job? Does he just want to take some time off since he’s financially secure? He’s on the list because, unlike some of the others, he is now completely available.
Shawn Clark would still be representing the Mountaineers if he decided to leave Appalachian State for to go home to West Virginia. Separate from being a Charleston native, Clark’s name gets brought up for what he’s accomplished in a short time at a Group of 5 school. He won 20 games in just over two seasons and two bowl games before the start of this season. While App. State has not been as dominating at their level this year, sitting at 3-3, and he doesn’t have tons of experience as a head coach, his young age and West Virginia connection will surely make him someone WVU fans would find to be an attractive candidate. It does need said that some of the criticism of Brown is that his success at Troy is not translating with a Power 5 program. Hiring Clark would likely give some pause since it would be the same situation as Brown in that regard until he proves otherwise.
Maybe the next head coach at WVU is already someone on the staff? Graham Harrell has never been a head coach before, but his offenses have all performed everywhere he’s been, in particular as offensive coordinator at North Texas and USC, and hiring a young offensive guru is a trend in football, both at the college level and in the NFL, no matter their resume or experience as a head coach. Harrell would fit that bill perfectly. He’s also from the Mike Leach coaching tree and only 37-years-old as of now. It’s quite possible if WVU does not either give him a significant raise or make him their head coach that another program will grab him first.
These are just a few names that often come up when the idea of replacing Brown is discussed by WVU fans and media. Are you sold on any of these guys as the next head coach or is there someone else who you feel would be a better fit?