West Virginia athletics director Shane Lyons wanted to have a new head coach named by the weekend. Mission accomplished. Neal Brown has officially been named as the new head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, becoming the 35th head coach in program history.
Brown signed a six-year contract valued at $19,050,000, as announced by West Virginia on Saturday. He will be the highest paid first-year coach in the Big 12 Conference in 2019, topping the salaries for new Big 12 head coaches Matt Wells at Texas Tech, Les Miles at Kansas and Chris Klieman at Kansas State. Brown replaces Dana Holgorsen, who was hired away by Houston earlier in the week.
“I am excited that Neal Brown and his family have decided to call West Virginia University their next home,” Lyons said in a released statement. “When I started this national search, I learned very quickly that he checked all the boxes of what I was looking for in our next football coach. There is no question that the Mountaineers are West Virginia’s team, and I know our fans are going to love his energy, passion, work ethic and excitement that he is going to bring to our program. I look forward to working together and supporting him and his staff to bring championships to Morgantown.”
Brown comes to West Virginia following a very successful stint at Troy. Brown accumulated a record of 35-16 in four seasons as the head coach of the Trojans with 10-win seasons in each of the past three seasons and three consecutive bowl victories for the program. Brown took over the head coaching job at Troy for his first head coaching position, although he previously was an assistant at Troy from 2006 through 2009 before becoming an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2010 through 2012. Brown replaced Lincoln Riley as offensive coordinator for the Red Raiders in 2010 following a coaching change with the program from Mike Leach to Tommy Tuberville. Brown moved to Kentucky as the Red Raiders made another coaching change from Tuberville to Kliff Kingsbury. After two seasons in Lexington, Brown got his first head coaching opportunity at Troy.
Brown coached Troy to a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2017 and a division championship this past season. West Virginia has hired a coach who knows how to win. Now it will be about transferring that success to the Big 12, where Oklahoma remains at the top of the conference and Texas is claiming to be back. Brown will quickly be able to begin the transition as the Mountaineers figure to have some new looks on the roster next season following a few key departures from the program such as quarterback Will Grier.
Troy is now opening up their own search for a new head coach. Troy and Temple are the only FBS programs currently without a head coach.