After AD hired, West Virginia gives Neal Brown another chance No. 4 USC falls to Utah in Pac-12 Championship, damaging playoff hopes No. 23 USTA tops North Texas 48-27 in C-USA title game


West Virginia football coach Neil Brown while retaining his job, the decision came shortly after the hiring of new athletic director Ren Baker was announced.

Brown is 22-25, the worst four-year stretch in West Virginia since the football team fell 17-27. Frank Chignetti from 1976-79

The Mountaineers have won two of their last three games to finish the season 5–7, the second time they have failed to qualify for the cup under Brown and the fourth time since 2000. West Virginia’s Brown teams have never been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, fifth in the Big 12.

But Baker, West Virginia president Gordon Gee, acting athletic director Rob Alsop and others decided to spare Brown for now. The university’s statement did not provide a specific timetable. Brown had four years left on his contract, which included a buyout of about $17 million if he was fired.

Alsop said he and Gee were impressed with the team’s efforts in the final weeks of the season. Alsop said Baker and Brown “already agreed on the future of the program. As a result of all these efforts and discussions, it became clear that Coach Brown should continue to run our football program.”

West Virginia appointed Baker, athletic director of North Texas, to the same position as the Mountaineers. It replaces Shane Lyonswho was fired earlier this month. Baker received a six-year contract that will pay him $1.1 million a year plus benefits, the university said in a statement. Baker will start on December 19th.

“With renewed vigor that comes with new leadership, it’s time to rally around Ren’s leadership as we rapidly move forward to recruit more top student-athletes into our program and continue to develop the incredibly talented group of returning players who are an integral part of our climbing family. Alsop said.

Lyons, who hired Brown in 2019, extended his contract after his only winning season in 2020. Lyons drew the ire of fans for both the renewal and the expensive buyout.

When the West Virginia started the season 0-2, losing to Pittsburgh and Kansas, the Lions took a wait-and-see approach to Brown. But West Virginia had seen enough of Lyons after nearly eight years on the job. Gee then said there would be no other changes until a new athletic director was hired.

West Virginia finished second to last in the Big 12, scoring 30.6 points per game and conceding 32.9. A defense that recorded just four interceptions was rebuilt after several key veterans entered the transfer portal earlier this year.

Baker has been with North Texas since 2016, and since he took office, Mean Green’s athletic programs have won 17 conference and division titles. North Texas plays in the Conference USA Football Championship on Friday with UTSA No. 23. The Mean Green will join the American Athletic Conference in July.

Baker, from Oklahoma, has previously worked in Memphis and Missouri. His biography in North Texas states that he ran a record fundraiser for Mean Green and three other schools.

Baker said he was “incredibly grateful” for this opportunity and that West Virginia “boasts a strong brand reputation and a storied academic and athletic history. My family and I can’t wait to get to Morgantown to mend our relationship and help take mountaineering to even greater heights.”

Baker will oversee 18 varsity sports and the department will have a budget of more than $90 million.

“When we started this search, we were determined to find someone who could lead the modern realities of intercollegiate athletics and build on the legacy of their predecessors,” Gee said. “We needed someone who clearly understood the dynamics of a rapidly changing sports environment and succeeded by being at the forefront of this new world that includes NIL and portal management. We considered several highly qualified candidates and, in the end, Ren met all of our requirements.”

LAS VEGAS – No. 12 “Utah” drove a lame, bloody Caleb Williams and swept past No. 4 in Southern California 47-24 on Friday night to win the Pac-12 championship and cast doubt on USC college football playoff hopes.

A loss to the Trojans (11-2) could pave the way for Ohio State (11-1) to a playoff berth. USC is fourth in the CFP rankings, the Buckeyes are a step behind.

Ohio State was supposed to be Utah’s biggest fan. The Buckeyes moved up the playoff rankings, with Michigan 12-0 in second place in Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game, giving the Big Ten Conference two playoff teams for the first time. It will also extend the drought in the Pac-12 playoffs – Washington in 2017 is the last team in this conference to make the playoffs.

Utah (10-3) is heading to the Rose Bowl, but the Utah have already gone there regardless of the outcome of the title game. They are only responsible for USC’s losses, beating the Trojans 43-42 on October 15 in Salt Lake City.

In the rematch, Utes had 533 offensive yards and cam growth walked for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

Williams threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns. He entered the game as a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy but turned around after suffering an injury in the first quarter.

The Trojans looked like they were about to run away with the game, taking a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter after some stellar play by Williams.

He appears to have injured his left knee or leg in the first quarter of a 59-yard run, at the end of which he was hit hard, and suffered a severe cut on the little finger of his throwing hand. He limped for most of the game and was not the same after a flawless first quarter, in which the Trojans beat Utah 194-70 on aggregate and Williams scored both touchdowns.

After USC failed to pick up fourth and eighth from Utah’s 37-yard line, Utes scored two touchdowns in the last 3:55 of the first half and suddenly the game was tied at 17. Instead of a rout, the game was beginning to look like the shootout that Utes won in October .

The game took on this tone at times in the second half, but USC had no answer to slow Utah, who outscored the Trojans 44-7 in overcoming a two-touchdown deficit.


An announced sold-out crowd of 61,195 made it the biggest Pac-12 championship on a neutral ground. He broke the previous record of 58,476 fans. who watched Southern California-Stanford in Santa Clara, California in 2015.

SAN ANTONIO – Frank Harris threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 49 yards and another scoring run to elevate UTSA’s No. 23 to its second straight U.S. Conference Championship with a 48-27 victory over North Texas on Friday night at the Alamodome.

UTSA flew out of North Texas for the second time in six weeks. In the October 21 game, Harris needed a 10-yard pass to De’Corian Clark 15 seconds left to give UTSA a 31–27 victory.

Not wanting a repeat of their regular season finale a week earlier, in which UTSA found themselves down 24-0 against UTEP, the team started shooting from the start, scoring on first possession.

Trailing 10-7, the Roadrunners scored 17 unanswered points, including 10 in the final 1:12 of the first half to take a 24-10 lead at half-time, and never fell behind again.

Harris and the offense, which has scored at least 30 points in 12 of 13 games this season, continued to put pressure on him with 571 offensive yards. Harris had assists for 32, 14, and 39 yards senior. Zachary Franklinand his fourth, a 16-yard shot to youth tight end Oscar Cardenas, sealed the win with 4:07 left.

junior defender Austin Aungwho engineered a scoring shot that left North Texas 34–27 early in the fourth quarter, threw for 194 yards and scored, but was knocked down twice.

The Roadrunners, who have been leading the conference this season, have improved to 11-2 and will be waiting for an invitation to the bowl. Predictions include a potential New Orleans Bowl bid. North Texas fell to 7-6 and is eligible for the bowl.


The title game was the last Conference-USA game for both programs, which are due to join the AAC next season. UTSA walks away with straight crowns and UNT walks out with two straight title defeats. The Mean Green lost to Florida Atlantic 41–17 in the 2017 C-USA Championship.


Harris, a sixth-year senior who still has one year of eligibility, has not yet decided if he will return next season as the Runners’ signal caller. He set UTSA passing records for yards in a season (3,865), career (9,158), and touchdowns in a season (31) and career (73).


While Franklin held the UTSA record for most career touchdowns, UNT’s Aune’s single scoring shot gave him a UNT season-high 32 touchdowns.