Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss West Virginia’s firing of athletic director Shane Lyons, and debate if this spells the beginning of the end for head coach Neal Brown.
DAN WETZEL: West Virginia fired Athletic Director Shane Lyons. He's been there since 2015. Seems like Neal Brown's tenure would then be precarious. Am I reading those tea leaves right? Brown was awesome at Troy down in Alabama, three 10-win seasons. Just not been able to get it going at WVU, which is just in the wrong league. Maybe the Big 12 gets a little better for them when Cincinnati joins and some other East Coast teams, but is West Virginia going to get a new coach? What are we hearing?
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah. Yeah, it doesn't bode well for Neal Brown that the man who hired him, one of the more respect athletic directors in the country, Shane Lyons is, I think, is a West Virginia grad from the state and spent some time in the SEC at Alabama for a while and is on most of the most significant NCAA governance committees. He's on the Transformation Committee that's kind of coming up with policies to transform the NCAA governance. And he's on the Board of Governors. He's a representative on the Board of Governors since he is the Chair of the Division I Council, which the Division I Council is like the lead legislative arm group of the NCAA.
It's shocking and somewhat unprecedented for somebody of that stature to be let go. I think most ADs would say Shane is a top 20 or 30 athletic director in the country. So the fact that he was pushed out and-- you know, I think some of it's been written, but, you know, I think there are people at West Virginia that certainly want Neal Brown fired. You know, he's been just-- they've been just OK there. 5 and 7 in his first year in 2019, 6 and 4, 6 and 7, and then this year they're 4 and 6. So at least four losses-- in three of the four years at least six losses. The thing is, it happened--
--a day after a huge upset of Oklahoma that snapped this long losing streak they had to Oklahoma. But there are people at West Virginia that want Neal Brown gone and I think that Shane Lyons pushed back on firing Neal Brown. I think he has pushed back a little bit on it. And I don't know if that was the cause of the issues, but I'm sure that was part of it.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, I can kind of imagine some sort of meeting where Shane or somebody on his behalf is like, look, man, like, I'm one of the most connected people in the NCAA and I have a lot of respect and I know what I'm doing here. And they're like, well, here in West Virginia, we don't care how many committees you're on. We think our football coach sucks and we'd like him fired, and if you're not going to do it, guess what? You're fired, too. That may or may not be the way it went down, but it's not hard to imagine that.
And, you know, Neal Brown had long run out of support and one of the reasons why, boy, they scheduled hard this year. They started with Pitt, lost that game, lost, got upset by Kansas. It's 0 and 2 and it's like the snowball was just rolling at that point and that was a difficult-- too much to overcome. So by now the fan base is fed up. The problem, and another reason why, OK, Shane Lyons may be on a bunch of committees and stuff, but he also gave Neal Brown a terrible contract extension, which makes him expensive to fire. It would be, I think, $16 million after this year?
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah, and that was one of the-- that was even the bigger thing. Right.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. We see it time and time again. Missouri just gave Eli Drinkwitz a contract extension that makes no sense.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah. What-- what was that? Where was Drinkwitz going.