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Hope For The Climb

Hope For The Climb

In any marriage, trust is absolutely essential.  Trust is built over time and is made stronger with time.  Even if a partner is unfaithful or gives their partner a reason to lose trust, trust can be rebuilt with transparency and effective communication.

West Virginia fans are in a marriage of sorts with Head Coach Neal Brown.  We love and adore the West Virginia Football program and he is essentially the program as the leader of the team.  His personality is imprinted all over the team, he decides on which players eventually come to Morgantown to play for the Mountaineers and he makes the rules and creates the vision.  Neal Brown is West Virginia football while he is the Head Coach.  As his partner in this, we love him, we want to trust him, but trust of course is earned over time.

Demanding that we trust his climb is unfair and goes against everything we as human beings are emotionally capable of.  We can certainly hope that things go well and give him every chance in the world to prove himself, but trust takes time to develop.

There have been many areas that Neal Brown has earned my trust.  He is an outstanding representative of West Virginia University and our state.  He will not embarrass our state or university in any way.  In fact, he will always act appropriately and in the most distinguished, respectable way.  Unlike previous coaches, we will never have to worry about Neal Brown saying the wrong thing or being caught up in a scandal of any kind.  He is a clean, safe, good person.  He has earned that.

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hope more than anything that Neal Brown is massively successful at West Virginia, that he wins many, many Big 12 Championships and competes for National Championships.

He has my full and unwavering support as he attempts to climb to the top, but I don’t trust that he’s going to be capable of winning big in Morgantown yet.  I will continue to question him fairly and hold him accountable and push him to be better.  I love West Virginia University and our state so much, and I only want what’s best for it.

When Neal Brown promised to “hit the reset button” during last week’s press conferences and make changes in the offense, I was excited.  This was what I was hoping to hear for weeks.  Brown lost some trust when very few changes were made against Baylor and the offense accounted for a mere 219 yards.

That trust can be regained and I fully expect that it will, but you know what I trust now?  I trust that the West Virginia defensive line will play their asses off and that they are capable of stopping a really, really great team like they did on that incredible goal line stance against Baylor.  I was so proud of them that I could cry and I trust that they will do even more amazing things in the future.  They earned that.

Marriage isn’t easy.  To be successful, you have to be transparent, you have to communicate with your partner effectively and you have to prove yourself every day until trust is earned.   

Trust isn’t given, it’s earned and it’s developed over time.  Just like being in a marriage is often hard, being a head coach in the ultra-competitive college football landscape is hard and requires support, hope and a little bit of luck.  I will always support Neal Brown for as long as he’s the Head Coach of the Mountaineers, but I will also always question him, push him and demand the best from him.

Brad Smith is a Senior Writer for Mountaineer Sports. Smith is among the most influential sports writers in the state of West Virginia and is a proud West Virginia University Graduate. Smith lives with his beautiful wife and children in Morgantown.

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