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Brown relies on relationships during challenging times for college coaches

The West Virginia Mountaineers football program faces many of the same challenges as others.
The West Virginia Mountaineers football program faces many of the same challenges as others.

It’s a unique time to be a college football coach.

Dealing with the emergence of the transfer portal, NIL and various other things after coming out on the other side of one of the most unique seasons of all time in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is all a backdrop to the day-to-day duties of the position.

It can be overwhelming at times, but the one constant is that things are always changing. That is the case at West Virginia as well where head coach Neal Brown is entering his third season atop the football program.

“I think this is a challenging time for coaches. What I mean is we’re in an evolving world and I don’t know if anybody necessarily has answers for what the future of our game looks like,” he said.

When it comes to NIL, the Mountaineers have been proactive on that front. But the main focus has been primarily football and academics, with the rest of that stuff being covered in a variety of ways such as with the Fifth Quarter program.

“The important piece with the players is relationships,” Brown said.

Even now with things returning to normal after last year’s pandemic season, Brown is relying on those relationships to help guide his players from an educational standpoint on all subjects. That even includes the COVID-19 vaccine. Brown can’t make players go through that process, but can provide guidance based off his own experiences.

“We bring our medical team in front. I think our team has been well versed. It’s an individual decision. I can speak from personal experience. I’ve been vaccinated. My wife has been vaccinated, 13-year old daughter, my parents, my wife’s parents. So to share personal experience, but as far as advice, that comes from our medical community,” Brown said.

It’s certainly a different time for college athletics, but at West Virginia they plan on relying on the bonds forged with their players to help guide them through it.

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