STILLWATER, Okla. - Of all the old faces and places Dana Holgorsen is seeing this season, there's an argument to be made that actually Oklahoma State isn't even the most familiar.
He did, after all, spend eight years coaching at Texas Tech. He was born, raised and went to college in Iowa. The vast majority of his major-college coaching career prior to his arrival at West Virginia (10 of 11 years) was spent in Texas.
He spent less than a year at Oklahoma State.
Still, when Holgorsen and the Mountaineers (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) walk out onto the turf at Boone Pickens Stadium for today's 3:30 p.m. game with the Cowboys (5-3, 3-2), this one will be by far the most intriguing reunion in WVU's first swing through the Big 12.
Because of the influence of Holgorsen - whether it be in his one season constructing Oklahoma State's offense or his subsequent raids of the Cowboys' coaching staff - these teams are cross-pollinated like few others.
How will that influence the outcome? Well, perhaps not at all, but it's certainly fuel for the fire.
"Once you get into a game it's not much different than any other game,'' OSU coach Mike Gundy insists. "They're much more familiar with us than we are with them. They've been here. We only know them, we don't know their players. And once the game gets going, in most cases you actually forget who's on the other side.''
Who's on the other side from Oklahoma State today is a group that was instrumental in the Cowboys' rise to prominence the past three years.
Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator who transformed OSU's offense in 2010, hired by Gundy to add a spark and ending up revolutionizing it. He was helped along by running backs coach Robert Gillespie (who had been at OSU a year before) and his joined-at-the-hip graduate assistant, Jake Spavital. Both came with Holgorsen to West Virginia, Spavital eventually getting a promotion to full-time quarterbacks coach.
The OSU influence at WVU isn't limited to the offense, though. Joe DeForest spent 11 years as the Cowboys' safeties coach and special teams coordinator, developing the latter units into some of the country's best. Last winter Holgorsen lured him to Morgantown, as well.