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WVU’s Neal Brown is no cookie-cutter football coach.

Neal Brown seems to be different.

In fact, West Virginia University’s new head football coach seems to be extremely different.

Suffice it to say, Brown was not a cookie-cutter hire.

Everybody knows the types.

Schools have been hiring Nick Saban wannabes for a while now. They emulated anything and everything the West Virginia native does at the University of Alabama.

Why colleges aren’t hiring Dabo Sweeney posers is a mystery to me.

Then, there’s the Mike Leach school of coaching, which embraces both coaching like a pirate and behaving like one personal life-wise. Former WVU head coach Dana Holgerson was a disciple of this school of coaching.

Former Ohio State and Florida head coach Urban Meyer has his disciples, too, who feign class and fake discipline while posturing as straight-arrow, do-everything-by-the-book types.

But Brown?

The 39-year-old Kentucky native seems to march to his own unique rhythm of X’s and O’s.

For example …

College football coaches are infamous for their ever-so-long work days. Before sunup and well after sundown is the usual work schedule.

But not for Brown. And that’s because he’s a family man. So, as a recent Sports Illustrated.com article pointed out, Brown spends his early-morning and late-night hours working at home.


So, he can drive his three children to school in the morning and eat dinner with his family in the evenings.

Brown might be the only Power 5 head coach in America who does that.

Well, good for him. It shows Brown has a firm grasp on reality and realizes what is really important in life.

That’s not the only way he’s different, either.

Ever heard of a coach with his own book club? That’s what Brown has. Sort of an Oprah Book Club with shoulder pads.

Brown asks both his on-field and off-field staffers to get together a couple of times each month in WVU’s team room to talk about the inspirational book Brown has assigned them to read.

I’m not making this stuff up, folks.

The book of the Mountaineer month is “Developing the Leader Within You,” authored by John Maxwell. Interestingly enough, the most recent chapter discussion dealt with the difficulty of change.

Under the circumstances, that’s a very timely read for Brown and his WVU coaching staff as they prepare to embark on their first season in the Big 12.

Is this the way Holgorsen would have done things? No. It isn’t how Rich Rodriguez would have handled it, either.

But guess what?

They aren’t WVU’s head coach anymore.

It is Brown’s job now and I like the way he’s doing it. He seems different, but in a good way.

Different is good sometimes.

I believe this time is one of them.

n MU HOOPS: The Marshall University men’s basketball program is putting the finishing touches on its 2019-20 schedule.

The Thundering Herd recently signed a home-and-home series with the College of Charleston in South Carolina, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. The Cougars will take on Marshall in the Cam Henderson Center in 2019-20 and, then, play a return game in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2020-21.

Marshall also has renewed a four-year contract with the University of Toledo.