MORGANTOWN - The intermingling of coaches at midfield prior to West Virginia's game with Maryland last week was rather unusual.
There was almost none.
Save for West Virginia assistant coach Steve Dunlap jawing with Maryland head coach Randy Edsall, everyone else pretty much stuck to their side of the field during warm-ups. Of course, given that Dunlap and Edsall were pretty much the only coaches with much of a history together, perhaps it wasn't all that unusual.
Expect more handshakes and conversations today when West Virginia and Baylor meet at Mountaineer Field. Sure, it's the first meeting of the teams, but most of the coaches go way back.
The head coaches, WVU's Dana Holgorsen and Baylor's Art Briles, were on Mike Leach's staff at Texas Tech from 2000 through 2002. West Virginia offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh was there, too. West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest spent 11 years at Oklahoma State and played Baylor every year.
Then there's Mountaineer defensive line coach Erik Slaughter, who has coached with or against Briles almost forever. He was on Briles' staff at Stephenville High School in Texas for nearly a decade from 1990 through 1998. When Briles - after spending these three years at Texas Tech - was named the head coach at Houston, he hired Slaughter as a linebackers and strength coach.
And as recently as last season Slaughter was coaching against Briles when Slaughter was at Stephen F. Austin.
"He's a great football coach,'' Slaughter said of Briles, who is now in his fifth season at Baylor. "He's a great motivator and he knows how to handle kids. He gets kids to play hard. You'll see that.''
That familiarity with Briles and the Baylor coaches can only help West Virginia today. In many ways, every Big 12 game this season will be like a bowl game for the players as far as learning about new opponents. But with such a core of coaches who have faced Big 12 opponents for years, the learning curve won't be nearly as steep.
That's particularly true given all the connections to Baylor.