The 2021 WVU football season will be here in less than 100 days and if Neal Brown’s coaching history tells us anything, it’s that year three could be the one to take the program to new heights. 

Brown spent four seasons as the head coach at Troy before taking over the reins in Morgantown. In that span, he compiled a 35-16 record and went 3-0 in bowl games. His first year with the program saw a 4-8 record but three 10+ win seasons followed. 

In his first season with the Mountaineers, they finished 5-7. Year two was obviously a unique one but it ended with a 6-4 mark, including his first bowl win as the head coach of the Mountaineers. That postseason victory also snapped the program’s streak of three straight bowl losses. So, what could be in store for year three in Gold and Blue? Perhaps the best season yet in the Neal Brown era. 

His third season at Troy saw his highest overall win total, finishing 11-2 and 7-1 in conference play. The 11 wins were the most in the school’s FBS history. He also led the team to the Sun Belt Conference Championship and was tabbed the league’s coach of the year. Brown’s signature win in 2017 was a 24-21 victory over then-No. 22 LSU in Baton Rouge. It spoiled the 49-game non-conference home winning streak for the Tigers. The Trojans finished the year on a seven-game winning streak after claiming a 50-30 win over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.  

Brown was able to turn things around in a big way from year one to two at Troy and continued to build on it from there. Under his leadership at West Virginia, the program seems to be on the same trajectory. Its win total increased from year one to two, but the improvements it made during that span, including the ground game, were more impressive than the record. Last month, the athletic department showed its commitment to Trusting the Climb by signing Brown to a two-year contract extension that will keep him in Morgantown through 2026.

Could year three at West Virginia be just as successful in terms of wins as it was for Brown at Troy? The Mountaineer football program has only seen two 10-win seasons in the last decade, the most recent was 2016. 

A new, highly anticipated year begins Sept. 4 at Maryland. That season-opener will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.