The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 9, 2012

DeForest back in familiar place

WVU assistant faces old team on Saturday

MORGANTOWN — When West Virginia University defensive coordinator Joe DeForest was on the sidelines calling his defenses, he was always the most recognizable figure down there, which may not have been a very good thing considering how badly it was playing.

But there he was, his baseball cap on backward with his headphones put on over them.

Last week, however, head coach Dana Holgorsen moved him to the coaching box to call plays, a move that seemed to have an improved effect upon his performance. But, even in the warmth and quiet of the box, the hat remained on backward.

“Do you know what means?” he asked the other night when the subject came up.

Assured that the listener did not know, he explained.

“It means ‘Hi!’ to my Mom,” he said. “That’s the only reason I do it. It started 23 years ago as a way to let her know I knew she was watching when I was at Rice.”

Now DeForest is preparing for a return trip to what was home, Stillwater, Okla., to face the school where he had coached for more than a decade in a game with huge meaning to both schools and maybe even more meaning to DeForest himself.

“It makes me more motivated,” he admitted, taking a few moments before continuing on as he gathered his thoughts. “I don’t want to say this game means more to me than any other game, but it’s more heightened for a lot of reasons.”

He then began listing those reasons.

“I recruited a lot of the kids on the team. I was there for 11 years. I have a lot of friends and family there. My daughter goes to school there,” he said.

Think, if you will, of this in personal terms, of you and your own family, of living 11 years in a community.

Think of the ties you have to the convenience store, and how you have favorite restaurants, maybe even places where you go for quiet rather than entertainment.

You might even have told yourself that your car knows its own way to work and back home or maybe to the Little League field where you take your kids.

True, we live in a mobile society, and the ties are not as strong or as lasting as they once were, but it is hard to move away from your established territory, territory you liked so much that you avoided moving previously to keep his daughter, Ashley, in school there.

DeForest is a strong family man and openly misses his daughter.

“She was here last week. We’re excited about the game. We circled this one on the calendar for a long time,” he admitted.

Still, he’s now the enemy, the man trying to take things away from friends and neighbors, things they considered important and pulled for him to accomplish when he was living in Stillwater.

“There are times guys at the grocery store rooted against me when I was there, too, just like everywhere else. It depends on whether you’re doing well or not doing well. There are ups and downs to everything.”

Ups and downs, yes, but there is no hesitation when asked if it doesn’t create inner turmoil.

“Is it going to be uncomfortable? No,” he said, interviewing himself at the moment. “I’m working for West Virginia, and I’m going to try to beat Oklahoma State the best I can. It’s actually going to be a more fun environment for me because there is more at stake or more involved in the whole situation.”

While the situation may be abnormal for DeForest, it is what it is — a football game.

“They are just another opponent to me. It’s just the next team on the schedule. I know that’s hard to say, but it is. We need this win to become bowl eligible,” he said.

No one would have imagined that going into the season’s ninth game WVU would need a victory to reach the required six for bowl participation, not back when they were the No. 4 team in the country. But a lot has happened. The offense has staggered, and DeForest’s position as defensive coordinator because the hottest seat in the house.

The defense was stopping no one, ranking last in the nation in total defense, giving up big plays, bad plays, and there were rumblings about the job he was doing.

So it was in the TCU game, a game that would be a loss but one in which the defense played much better, Holgorsen made a subtle change.

No, he didn’t fire DeForest or give him a leave of absence. He simply took him off the sideline and put him in the coaching box to make his calls on defense.

“I just felt like we needed a change. I thought it would help Joe to be in a sterile environment,” Holgorsen said. “There are a lot of bullets flying on the sidelines, and there is a lot of stuff going on.”

There were times when you were worried if they were real bullets, so ineffective was the defense and so unhappy were the fans.

“It is not uncommon for an offensive or defensive coordinator to call it from the box. It’s because it is quiet and he can see better. With Joe being more of a back-end guy than a front-end guy, he can see that back end a little bit better,” Holgorsen explained.

DeForest said I worked.

“There’s no emotion involved; there are no distractions. This is the game plan we had, and I wasn’t distracted by the emotion after a good play or a bad play. I could let the situation dictate what we had planned to call,” he said.

“It was just easier. First time in 23 years I was in the box, and I wish I’d done it earlier. It helped me concentrate.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter@bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos