The texts and Twitter messages came at a fast and furious pace after the WVU Mountaineers were stuffed by Minnesota 18-6 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl late Tuesday and into Wednesday.
Coach Neal Brown’s “trust the climb” mantra was especially taken to task.
Mike J. Asti on Twitter: “There is no one who can convince me the West Virginia football program is currently climbing.”
Indeed, it was a long, brutal night for the Mountaineers.
On Twitter, West By God Virginia said, “4 weeks to prepare, and we score 6 points.”
There were calls for action.
“Better be shaking up the coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball,” wrote Ryan Ward. “That offense is embarrassing.”
Bob McDonough said simply, “Time for Neal Brown to get an OC.”
Indeed, WVU athletic director Shane Lyons or Brown need to make some moves, if for no other reason than to show they care and won’t stand for losing seasons.
But the bigger challenge is to unveil something to grab both fans and recruits moving forward. And it’s not only a need, but a must.
Wrote R.E.W.WVU on Twitter:
“Four B12 teams hired new [head coaches] in 2019
- Matt Wells fired by TT eight games into his third season 13-17 record.
- Les Miles fired after 2 years at Kansas 3-18 record.
- Chris Klieman current Kansas State HC, 19-16 record.
- Neal Brown current #WVU HC, 17-18 record.”
Brown’s seat probably isn’t sizzling hot, but it’s certainly warm to fans.
“WVU football,” tweeted former Mountaineer and ex-NFL player Terence Garvin. “Decent season. Hard fought all year. Need a couple more weapons in there. Majority of that defense come back! That’s a positive. Spring ball will be important. Build the offense! Find plays that score and players that make consistent plays! Not all on QB! Compete.”
Indeed, WVU needs to build a better offense. Much better.
“I saw a West Virginia offense that lacks dynamic ability, that lacks explosiveness,” WVU announcer Tony Caridi told Hoppy Kercheval Wednesday morning. “This offense has got to be dynamic. You have to have guys that make you go wow… At this point, we do not have that.”
Instead, WVU has an offense that makes you go hmm. Someone with a rich background in football told me today the Mountaineer offense looks like vanilla pudding.
And that’s seems a fair description. It seems WVU is just out there running plays without a clear objective or focus. After 52 quarters of football, we should have known what the focus of the offense was, right?
We certainly did with Don Nehlen. And Rich Rodriguez. And Dana Holgorsen.
Let’s face it, WVU doesn’t land many five-star linemen. That’s why the coach needs creativity, especially on the offensive side. There needs to be pizzazz.
“Sad,” wrote Terryma15767724 on Twitter. “Just sad, in respect to the Mountaineers past. That’s all I’ll say. It’s sad. Ugh.”
Somehow, some way, WV needs to turn that around, not only to win, but, perhaps more importantly to the program, to sell tickets.
I remember way back, ex-WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong got upset with Nehlen because he left spring drills without naming a starting quarterback. If memory serves, the fans wanted Jake Kelchner. The athletic department needed to sell those tickets.
Of course, many WVU fans are hoping they’ll see Nicco Marchiol, perhaps the lynchpin of a highly rated recruiting class, at QB next season.
“It’s Nicco in 2022 or fans will check out,” tweeted James Clark III. “And by fans I mean me. I’m done guys. 2021 was a bust. Goodnight.”
It would be difficult, of course, for Brown to hand the QB duties to Marchiol right away. But something clearly needs to be done after the bowl performance.
“I have to clear out the cobwebs and go back to Frank Cignetti to remember games as bad as this year,” wrote CheddarBear. “And to wrap up a bowl like that is humiliating.”
Bowls, of course, don’t mean everything. If that were the case, Holgorsen’s tenure at WVU would have been all rainbows and sunshine after the 70-point pasting of Clemson.
But clearly WVU has much work to do. Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12, but isn’t Cincinnati, that Big 12-team to-be, playing in the College Football Playoff? Didn’t Houston just beat Auburn in its bowl?
We shall see how it all gets addressed. But I’ll leave you with one last tweet. It came from Brandon Phoenix, who is already looking ahead to next season’s schedule.
“Please just beat Pitt,” he wrote. “Please.”
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.