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Neal Brown is a planner.

What a surprise, huh?

After all, he is a guy and being a planner kind of goes with the DNA.

Besides that, Brown also is West Virginia University’s head football coach, which is tantamount to putting a planner on steroids.

Yet, Brown has had to suppress his planning nature and instincts, which wasn’t easy, because of COVID-19 and all the havoc it has wreaked. So, Brown has had to park his planning tendencies at the door and simply fly by the seat of his pants.

That’s asking a lot of a guy.

And it’s asking even more of a head football coach.

Yet, some how, some way Brown has managed to pull it off as the second-year coach leads the Mountaineers into their season-opening game against Eastern Kentucky at noon Saturday in Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.

So, how’d he do it?

“I think it is an adjustment,” said Brown. “But I think it talks about change. I talk about this a lot. I think change is difficult. Change is difficult for males a lot of times. It’s even more difficult with football coaches.

“So, I think you either adapt or die. And in this game, dying is losing. So, we’re adapting. I knew this was going to be an issue when this started playing out in March and April. We feel like we’ve adapted. Whether it’s COVID protocols or whether it’s practice requirements or how we go about conditioning. Any of these things that have been fluid, I think we’ve been able to change.

“I really believe that your players feed directly off the staff. If the staff is able to handle things when there is adversity or change, then I think your players handle it. So, we tried to set the standard for that.”

Kudos to Brown on that.

Yet, he is the first to admit that as COVID continued to put all of our lives on hold for nearly six months, he had some doubts about whether or not a 2020 season would take place.

“It’s finally time for football,” said Brown. “Reflecting back, really, over the last several months, I honestly didn’t know that we would get to this point — at certain times. I didn’t know if we’d be able to play.

“And here we are, just a few days away from kickoff — 12:03 p.m. at Mountaineer Field. I am really humbled to have the opportunity to coach after everything that has gone on over these last few months.

“I know our players — speaking for them — they’re extremely excited to compete, as you can imagine.”

Even with no fans allowed to attend the game, Brown knows his players still will be excited.

“This is a week where it’s about us,” he said. “We are excited to play. We are a work-in-progress. It’s time to play. We’ve practiced long enough. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

“You really don’t know what you have until you go out and play somebody else. You have a scrimmage. Let’s say the offense has a good scrimmage. Is that good offense or bad defense? You always wonder as a head coach. If you have a scrimmage and the defense has success. Is that good defense or suspect offense? You don’t really know until you line up and play somebody else.”

That’s why Brown is looking forward to this game so much.

But only this one.

“There are no long-range plans,” said Brown firmly. “We basically have plans for this week and next week and that’s about it.”

Wow.

Sounds like Neal Brown joined “Planners Anonymous.”

Ahem, wonder when the meetings are?

I’m asking for my buddy.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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