Football, Sports, WVU Sports

The Mountaineers delivered on Neal Brown’s preseason promise

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In July, Neal Brown called his shot. By December, West Virginia had more than delivered on it.

After being picked last, dead last, in the Big 12 preseason media poll, Brown took the stage in Dallas, Tx. and said then and there that his Mountaineers were better than that.

The team backed Brown up as the Mountaineers reached nine wins for the first time since 2016 and just the third time since joining the Big 12 with a 30-10 victory over North Carolina in Wednesday’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

“I really thought being picked 14th in our league wasn’t very good reporting,” Brown said. “Never did I think that’s where we were and at our media days in Dallas, I said that.”

The entire team bought into fulfilling Brown’s promise and the players used that No. 14 as motivation all season.

“Personally, that’s been my (phone) lock screen ever since those polls came out,” said quarterback Garrett Greene, who was named Mayo Bowl MVP. “It kind of pissed everybody off. We knew we were a better team than that and a nine-win season shows that.”

WVU won five of its final six games of the season and scored at least 30 points in seven of its last eight contests.

“We had a chance to win 11 out of our 13 games,” Brown said. “We were competitive in the Penn State game late and didn’t play very well against Oklahoma, that was really the only non-competitive game we had. Then we led two games late in the fourth quarter that we’d like to have back. Where would be if we could finish in the fourth quarter against Houston and Oklahoma State?”

Brown said he believes the Mountaineers deserved to be ranked when the final Top 25 polls are released next month.

Future success is never certain, however, as Brown and WVU’s coaching staff will get right back to work on roster management and the transfer portal.

“I think this was a significant step for us,” Brown said. “We’ve got to continue to hold our roster together, the next week to 10 days is big.”

What is certain, however, is that after proving so many people wrong this season, there’s no chance the Mountaineers will be picked last again next year.

“I think it really speaks well to what we can be and what we could be in 2024,” Brown said.