The head coaches of WVU and Baylor football where on opposite sidelines during a historic clash in 2017.
The outcome was a career highlight for Mountaineer coach Neal Brown, and not so much for new Bears coach Dave Aranda.
On Sept. 30, 2017, Brown’s Troy Trojans went to Baton Rouge and knocked off nationally ranked LSU 24-21. That game served as one of the biggest upsets that year in college football, and helped make Brown one of the most coveted head coaching prospects in the nation.
Aranda was the defensive coordinator for the Tigers at the time, and said he has “vivid memories” of that game.
“First of all, he whopped us when I was at LSU,” Aranda said of Brown.
The two coaches will meet once again Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium, and they share a mutual respect for each other.
“Everyone that I talk to feels the same way that I feel — he’s just a great person,” Aranda said. “He treats people right. There’s a lot of respect in the coaching community for him. I’m happy he’s in our league. He makes us all better.”
Though Aranda lost the battle vs. Troy in 2017, he walked away with a national title at LSU before he took the job at Baylor.
“I think he’s one of the top defensive minds in college football over a long period of time,” Brown said. “Obviously coming off a national championship last year, and he’s put together a great staff.”
West Virginia’s head coach expects the same brand of toughness that the Bears brought to the matchup last fall.
“I talked about this last year — when you turn on Baylor’s tape, they’re a tough, physical team that runs very well, and you can tell that they have a really good culture there that [former Baylor head coach] Matt Rhule built, that Aranda and his staff continue to maintain,” Brown said.
Kickoff is set for Saturday at noon ET. ABC will televise the contest.