MORGANTOWN - When Joe DeForest helped Dana Holgorsen get a job as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator in January of 2010, it kick-started Holgorsen's rapid ascension in the coaching ranks.
Within 11 months he was hired as West Virginia's head coach for 2013 and seven months later he had that job a year early.
DeForest leaves no doubt that turnabout would be fair play.
"It's an opportunity in my career that hopefully will advance it,'' he said.
After spending 11 years at Oklahoma State, mostly as a safeties coach and special-teams coordinator, DeForest finds himself today on Holgorsen's staff at West Virginia. Although no announcement has been made officially as to what his coaching responsibilities here will be, DeForest will at least be the team's defensive co-coordinator.
On Thursday, when recent hire Mike Smith elected to return to the New York Jets, it perhaps increased the possibility that DeForest will have the coordinator title to himself. But that's not likely to all shake out until Holgorsen fills the remaining two positions on the staff.
Regardless of his title, however, DeForest sees the opportunity as one to move up in the coaching ranks.
"The reason I came here is it's an opportunity for me to grow,'' DeForest said. "The reason I stayed at Oklahoma State for 11 years is I promised my daughter I'd let her graduate from high school there. She's graduated from high school, so now I can get up and go.''
So what made DeForest's role in Holgorsen's rapid rise so important? Well, when Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was trying to figure out what to do about a Cowboy offense that couldn't get off the ground, it was DeForest who pushed for Holgorsen. At the time Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator at Houston after having spent eight years learning from - but also in the shadow of - Mike Leach at Texas Tech.
"Yeah, I pushed for him,'' DeForest said.
Part of the reason was personal. DeForest and Holgorsen had known each other for the previous 10 years while both were recruiting the Houston area, and then when Holgorsen got a job at Houston. They'd become friends.
The main reason DeForest wanted Holgorsen on the same staff, though, was selfish.
"I didn't want to defend him,'' DeForest said.
As it turns out, DeForest and the OSU defensive staff were grateful they only had to defend Holgorsen's offense in practice. He took a Cowboys team that ranked 99th in passing and 61st in total offense a year earlier and made it the No. 2 passing offense and No. 3 total offense in the country.
That was just part of an explosion of offense in the Big 12 over the past few years, during which teams like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Missouri and others have followed the Texas Tech lead and become as wide open as any group of teams in the country.
With West Virginia set to join the Big 12 next season, DeForest knows the challenges that will be presented to the defense he is now expected to craft.