WVU student intern Kamden Ludwig shares his thoughts on Neal Brown and the Mountaineer football team. 

Since his arrival in Morgantown, head coach Neal Brown has repeatedly asked fans to do one thing. “Trust the climb”.

That’s catchy and works well for a team with the mascot that has the word mountain literally in it, but Mountaineer fans come in 2 types.

There’s the kind that will always be optimistic and believe that no matter who the guy is, the team will succeed and compete for a National Championship year in and year out. Unfortunately, that has not come to fruition.

Then there are fans like me who see Neal Brown do all the right things and hear him say all the right words but are still hesitant. For me the proof will always be in the pudding. I remain hopeful yet realistic.

It is unquestioned that Neal Brown has came in and managed to get almost all of the Mountaineer faithful to stand beside him and climb with him, yet the more everyone follows Brown, the more I venture off the path.

That was especially true when Brown signed a 2-year contract extension in April. I question whether he deserved the extension considering his biggest achievement has been what? A comeback win against an unranked Army team? An overtime win against an unranked Baylor team?

Yet, all these rumors about him leaving or going to another school earlier this year had Mountaineer fans trembling.

All this over a guy who’s 11-11 and has not yet had a signature win for WVU.

Well, since Brown’s contract extension was inked, he has put together a pretty successful recruiting cycle. How far will that get the Mountaineers?

As the past has taught WVU fans, stars do not always matter when it comes to a player’s success. Looking at you Jason Gwaltney. Remember him? In 2005, Gwaltney was the highest recruit WVU had ever signed, but Gwaltney’s career featured as many arrests on campus as games played.

In the class of 2020, the gem is Garett Greene. A mobile quarterback with a killer attitude. Coach Brown followed
up that recruit with 3-star quarterback Will Crowder, who is most known for having an explosive arm. He then proceeded to sign Nico Marchiol, a 4-star quarterback from Arizona who de-committed from Florida State.

But as I sit here and write this, the Bowling Green transfer and returning starter, Jarret Doege, has once again been named the signal caller for the 2021 campaign. Through 10 games last year, Doege had 2587 yard passing with 14 touchdowns. That’s just not good enough for WVU to compete for a championship in the Big XII.

Why hasn’t Brown given Green or Crowder a chance to earn the starting job? Why would he add 3 potential starters in 3 years at the same position and not allow anyone to even entertain the thought of a competition in the backfield?

This really fires me up as I am a firm believer that competition breeds success. Perhaps the ego of Doege can’t handle scrutiny, therefore, Brown named him a starter to build his confidence. A true quarterback competition harkens back to the days of Clint Trickett beating out Paul Millard and Ford Childress for the right to call plays.

But yet, Brown is not allowing that competition to even take place. So maybe Doege has shown something that we have yet to see, but with 2 years experience within the program it feels like there would be flashes of excellence that stood out at some point.

How about Dante Stills? Another big recruit that has seemingly regressed under Brown. He had the lowest sack total of his career in 2020 even though he played more than in his freshman season.

At some point the big name players have to step up and perform the way they have in the past. Is Brown to blame?

Yes, but not all of that is Brown’s fault. Sometimes players get complacent and taper off. However, with Brown we still have more questions than answers,

No signature wins, no competition in the quarterback room, and player regression from top end talent. Until Neal Brown proves me wrong on at least 2 of those 3 accusations you can count me out on trusting the climb. 

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