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FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2017, file photo, Troy head coach Neal Brown celebrates his team's 24-21 victory over LSU in an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La. West Virginia and Troy's Neal Brown are completing a deal to make him the next coach of the Mountaineers, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday, Jan. 4, 2018. The people spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the contract was not yet final. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton, File)

By TOM BRAGG

HD Media

MORGANTOWN, W.Va -Neal Brown is expected to be 34th head coach of the West Virginia University football team, a source confirmed to the Gazette-Mail on Friday. The deal is still being finalized.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports first reported the news.

Brown, 38, is WVU's choice to replace Dana Holgorsen, who left Morgantown after eight seasons to take the University of Houston's vacant head coach job. He joins the West Virginia football program after four seasons as the head coach at Troy University, a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

A native of Kentucky, Brown was born in Louisville and grew up in Bardstown, before moving to Danville. He was an all-state receiver at Boyle County High School, where he completed his prep career as the No. 2 pass-catcher in Kentucky state history.

Brown began his collegiate playing career at the University of Kentucky before transferring to Massachusetts. He began his coaching career at 23, coaching tight ends at UMass. From there, he climbed the coaching ladder. Brown served as quarterbacks coach at Sacred Heart the following season in 2004; spent the 2005 season as the wide receivers coach at Delaware; was at Troy first as the inside receivers coach in 2006 and 2007; then again as offensive coordinator in 2008 and 2009.

Brown gained some experience in the Big 12 Conference, where WVU competes, as Texas Tech's offensive coordinator from 2010 through 2012. From there, he returned to his home state to be the offensive coordinator at Kentucky in 2013 and 2014.

Brown took over as the head coach at Troy in 2015. In his first season, the Trojans posted a 4-8 record. Since then, Brown's teams have been among the best in the Sun Belt.

Troy went 10-3 in 2016, with a win against Ohio in the Dollar General Bowl. In 2017, the Trojans went 11-2, with a Sun Belt Conference title and a win in the New Orleans Bowl against North Texas.

Troy finished 2018 at 10-3 and tied with Appalachian State for the top spot in the Sun Belt's East Division, but missed out on the inaugural league championship game. The Trojans recently completed their season with a 42-32 win against Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl.

Brown was one of three candidates that emerged as Holgorsen's departure became imminent, along with current WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell. All three were interviewed this week, with WVU administrators traveling to meet with Brown and Fickell.

Gibson received strong support from current, former and future West Virginia players and, according to published reports, had the support of several prominent WVU boosters. Brown, however, did enough in his interview to convince West Virginia administrators that he is the choice to lead the Mountaineers' football program.

Stadium's Brett McMurphy reported that Brown will receive a six-year contract from WVU, but no further details were available Friday.

Brown made $810,000 last season at Troy and was due for a $10,000 raise next season. Holgorsen made $3.6 million last season at WVU.

West Virginia has yet to confirm Brown's hiring.

Brown and his wife, Brooke, have two daughters - Adalyn and Anslee - and one son - Dax.

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