MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Today, Melissa Patterson will board a plane back to her home in Marlow, Okla., two doors down from where her husband, West Virginia co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, was raised.
She'll rendezvous with her son, Kelby, and later a few other parents of players on the local high school football team. They cook the kids dinner the night before a game.
Kelby is a receiver and a defensive back for the team and Melissa will cheer for him from the stands, catch a few hours of sleep and then take an early flight east Saturday to be in her husband's corner when the ninth-ranked Mountaineers make their Big 12 Conference debut at noon against No. 25 Baylor (FX).
Ashley DeForest is a freshman at Oklahoma State who finagled a schedule that has her off on Fridays. She'll take a flight Friday and travel to the WVU campus to root for her father, defensive coordinator Joe DeForest.
It turns out everyone wants to see what the two coaches have up their sleeves. This is the occasion for which they were hired.
WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen targeted Patterson, even though he had just accepted the defensive coordinator's job at Arkansas State, because Patterson knows how to disarm spread offenses. Holgorsen learned as much when Patterson's Pitt defense stumped the Mountaineers last November. He talked Patterson into a fourth job in 14 months. The hook? "Come on," Holgorsen said, "it's the Big 12."
Prior to that, Holgorsen did what others could not and pried DeForest from the Oklahoma State staff because DeForest knows the Big 12 and can help his players understand it quickly. That is the reputation that precedes him this weekend when he readies for the first of five opponents he's faced between three (Iowa State) and 11 times (Texas and Oklahoma) in the Big 12. That doesn't count Oklahoma State and Coach Mike Gundy, with whom DeForest spent seven seasons.
"It doesn't mean they can't trick you," he said. "Everyone, through film study, knows the opponent, but when you go against somebody for 11 years, you know the little things about them. That helps, but they've got to execute what we transfer to them. I think the information we can give them this week will be helpful if they take that in and use it to their advantage."
As much as their work can benefit the Mountaineers, it is working for the Mountaineers that benefits them. WVU is the 10th high school or college Patterson has worked for since 1986 when he began as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, East Central Oklahoma.
His father, Bob, was a high school coach, but Keith's mother wanted her son to get a degree in business and pursue something less volatile. Keith just wanted to coach, so he took assistant coaching jobs at two high schools before becoming a head coach at Oklahoma's Edmond Santa Fe in 1994.
He did that for a year before taking a job as an assistant at powerhouse Allen High in Texas.
After two years, he was again a head coach, this time at Ardmore High in Texas. After three years, he was back at Allen in 2000. Patterson was out of coaching in 2001 and focused on his master's degree so he could one day be a college head coach.