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Trouble In Paradise

My momma calls it “the fog.” The dense veil that new love binds on the figurative eyes of anyone lucky enough to be caught in its spell. It prevents a person infatuated, with their boyfriend or girlfriend early on in a romance, from seeing the flaws or potential barriers in the relationship. It’s fun if it’s right. Not so much if there are real problems that will make it all wrong. Such is the current relationship between Coach Neal Brown and WVU. It’s why this marriage may spell doom. You see, the fog is a metaphor for what happens to your ability to “see” the other person early in a romance. If it’s right, it’s a fun haze. If it’s wrong, it’s a treacherous darkness that leads to destruction. The stakes aren’t quite as high when it comes to football but the lesson remains: Early on it's often impossible to see the flaws in someone you want to love. It’s an awesome problem to have. Some schools never do LOVE their new coaching hires. Neal Brown has been regarded as a home run by all involved and even the outside spectators. In Morgantown, Brown can do no wrong. From his own track record to a near perfect mix of personal hires as well as hiring qualified alumni to keeping an entire class in tact after being hired late, Neal has really knocked it out of the park. The social media team and his availability to the public have just pushed everything into overdrive. Yet with all of this momentum he could only manage to get less than 19k in official Gold / Blue game attendance. The 18, 800+ is 3rd all time for spring game attendance. TCU head man Gary Patterson, like WVU last year, didn’t even have a spring game. Power 5 school, North Carolina, had less than 2,000 for their Spring scrimmage. So why do I say “only?” 19k when it comes to Browns Mountaineers?

Do we have a new coach?✔️

New staff?✔️

Quarterback competition?✔️

New uniform unveil?✔️

All of those things added a steroid shot to the already intense love fest between Brown and Mountaineer nation. The uniform unveil alone sparked so much conversation, speculation and debate that it bordered on a fun way. It all added up to what felt, to me, like a foregone conclusion: The Spring game attendance record would fall. It didn’t, and I’m not sure what to blame it on. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cool. The tickets were only $10. It was the first chance to see a new system with new coaches and new leaders. A glimpse at the new uniforms that so many had clamored for,, a new Mountaineer mascot and the battle for MoutainGrEER’s replacement were all on the table. On top of all that, Neal Brown and the WVU brass practically begged us to show up. What more could we ask for?

It wasn’t enough. We didn’t show up in droves. We certainly didn’t sell the place out. We had a really good turnout but the numbers weren’t great. And for all of us in “the fog” it might be a reminder that while our partner is great, coach Brown is not a miracle worker. For me, the fog got a little less dense after the annual scrimmage. We are who we are and what we’ve been, for a reason. Peaking out of the top of the middle of the pack. And truthfully, it’s very impressive. A largely impoverished state with less than two million in population regular accomplishes more than places with far more advantages. But, it also means the population and poverty barriers to success still exist and it’s gonna take a lot more than Neal Browns social media and enthusiasm to overcome them.

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