Neal Brown leaves legacy to build on for next head coach

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

It was just four years ago that Neal Brown stepped off of a plane at Troy Municipal Airport to begin his tenure as head coach of the Troy Trojans.

We were not unfamiliar with Brown – he first served a two-year stint as an offensive assistant with Troy and served as offensive coordinator for the program in 2008 and 2009.

Still, nobody could have predicted the heights Brown would take the program to in his tenure as head coach.

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Last week, Brown returned to the Troy Municipal Airport to board a plane head for West Virginia, where he takes over for Dana Holgorsen as the head coach of the Mountaineers.

The Trojan nation has been reeling from the loss of Brown since reports came in Friday that he had taken the job.

Of course, we knew this day had been coming for quite a while.

After back-to-back 10-win seasons and bowl victories with the Trojans, Brown’s name began to surface for numerous head coaching vacancies across the country.

This time last year reports surfaced that he had interviewed at Arizona. Former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin ended up being named to that role though and Brown returned for a third season at the helm.

Then earlier this season Brown’s name surfaced again with many people confident he was headed to coach at Louisville in his home state of Kentucky. His name was also connected to openings at Kansas State and Texas tech around that same time.

Then the coaching carousel seemed to slow down and Trojan fans began to warm to the idea that maybe – just maybe – Brown would return for one last hoorah with the Trojans.

Then the West Virginia job opened up and the rest is history. It’s a good move for Brown and a well-deserved one. He will be better-paid and have a chance to prove himself on the larger stage.

And the Trojan nation is supporting him, despite the sense of loss at his departure.

What’s amazing is Brown was only here for four seasons – 51 games. And yet it feels like we have lost a Troy legend, it seems as if Brown has always been a part of Troy.

That has something to do with his success, but it also has to do with his character, his sense of community. Brown has fit in here since day one and instantly became a part of us. That’s what we think hurts the most.

But as Brown said to fans at the Troy Men’s basketball game against Appalachian State Saturday, “the best days of Troy University are still ahead.”

The love and passion that Brown brought for the program, the university and community has given new life to the city and sets a course to follow for the future.

We have had many highlights under Brown’s tenure, including historic victories against LSU and Nebraska on the road in some of the most prestigious stadiums in the country. We’ve been among the top of the Sun Belt each year and our players have played with heart and will to accomplish the lofty goals he set out for them.

So we want to officially give our thanks to Brown. If the next head coach of the Trojans can find just a fraction of the class and dignity that Brown brought on and off the field every day, the program will be in good hands for many years to come.