Neal Brown is one of four new head coaches in the Big 12, and he has already caught the eye of the conference’s commissioner.
During his press conference Monday to open Big 12 Media Days, Bob Bowlsby said that while Brown doesn’t have a national championship on his resume like new Kansas head coach Les Miles or Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman, he does have potential to be a successful coach in a major conference.
“Neal Brown is somebody that I’ve been advised to keep an eye on for a number of years,” said Bowlsby. “He is one of the really outstanding up-and-coming young coaches.”
But all four teams that feature new head coaches are ranked as the bottom four teams in the league’s preseason media poll. With so many talented WVU players gone from a season ago, Bowlsby noted Brown has a very challenging task in front of him, as do the league’s other new coaches.
“I don’t envy the task that any of the four of them have,” said Bowlsby. “They all have to come in and build programs, they all have lots of work to do and they all have the vision right in the front of their consciousness that there aren’t a lot of days off in the Big 12. Every week during the season is going to be a brutal contest.”
While Bowlsby said all four new coaches in the conference are “seasoned,” the teams at the top of the league include some established college football powers — namely Oklahoma under the leadership of Lincoln Riley.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson, who has led the Horned Frogs since 2000, doesn’t foresee a major shakeup in the league due to an influx of new coaches. He thinks that because of the round robin nature of the Big 12 regular season schedule, teams can quickly become familiar with any coaching staff’s style.
He also noted that he has coached against Brown during his stint at Texas Tech, and has a relationship with new WVU defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, who was his teammate at Kansas State.
“Over the years, you catalog how everybody plays each other, so I start looking at certain ballgames because certain people play other people better than what other people do because you see them year after year,” said Patterson. “So when you have a new person coming in, you don’t have to invent something new gameplay-wise because you haven’t played them yet, so this in some ways makes it easier.”
Riley thinks the addition of new coaches will help the league continue to evolve.
“I think there are too many good coaches, too many good players, too many good programs that maybe have been down for a few years that are showing a lot of promise right now. You can name several right now just off the bat in this league, and so I think that’s very healthy for the league,” said Riley. “I think great offense will be played in this league, I think great defense will be played in this league and I think the future for this league is as bright as any league in the country.”
Bowlsby predicts some “great games” will be played this fall.
“This will be yet another terrific football season for our conference, and I couldn’t be more excited to get going with it,” said Bowlsby.