WHEN WEST VIRGINIA plays James Madison this Saturday, rest assured the Dukes' coach will be familiar with the Mountaineers.
He knows the program. He knows the coaches. He knows the state.
And all know Mickey Matthews, a former assistant for Jim Donnan at Marshall from 1990-95.
"My kids," Matthews said, "still call Huntington home."
As mentioned, he knows WVU's coaches - past and present.
"[Steve] Dunlap is a great friend," Matthews said. "And I know [Dana] Holgorsen. Hal Mumme and I worked together in Texas and [Holgorsen] is a Hal Mumme disciple. I know [ex-WVU assistant Bill] Kirelawich. I knew [ex-head coach] Rich Rodriguez when he was at Glenville. He'd come down and watch us at Marshall.
"Heck, West Virginia is just two mountains over [from Harrisonburg, Va.]."
Matthews also knows the Mountain State through tragedy. He last saw Dunlap and Kirelawich, for instance, at the wake of former WVU coach Bill Stewart.
"I went to the wake and saw Dunlap and Kirelawich there," Matthews said. "It was kind of hard on all of us. Bill was a great friend."
Matthews also has received support. See, the story of his son Clayton is perhaps the most touching in all of college sports. In August of 2003, Clayton Matthews improbably broke his neck twice in separate car accidents, leaving him paralyzed below the chest.
Today, however, the son, confined to a wheelchair, is his father's assistant coach for wide receivers and kickers. Clayton lives independently. He coaches with veracity. He recruits.
"His tongue ain't paralyzed," said the father.
After Clayton and his mother, Kay, were returning from a medical visit in Charlottesville, Va., and crashed in a rain storm, the family was devastated when Matthews broke his neck for the second time.
"But we probably received the most support from those in West Virginia," said the head coach.
Perhaps that's why his kids consider the state home. But this Saturday all will be trying to defeat the Mountaineers at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., a suburb of Washington.
"It'll be great," Matthews said. "When I was approached about it, I figured it would be just like a home game. D.C. is JMU country. The problem is, I didn't realize the tickets would be $100 apiece.
"I thought we'd have 20,000 people there, but we won't because of the price."