MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Steve Dunlap has been through 34 seasons coaching Division I football as a graduate assistant, part-time assistant of full-time assistant and that it was the most recent offseason at West Virginia that prompted this review.
"Strange," he said.
Dana Holgorsen finished his first season as head coach with a 70-33 victory in the Orange Bowl and a few days later lost defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to the University of Arizona. Casteel took with him defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich and cornerbacks coach David Lockwood.
The general and acceptable assumption was that those three were looking out for their longevity as much as they were looking for an opportunity. Holgorsen had agreed to keep the defensive staff in tact for the 2011 season, but there were no guarantees beyond that.
It left Dunlap, who has spent 25 years on the sideline at his alma mater, where he won three letters and made a lot of tackles as a linebacker from 1976-78, in an uncertain predicament.
If observers had questions about his future, then so, too, did Dunlap. Casteel, Lockwood and Kirelawich were gone and no longer a part of the situation they were forced to go along with when Holgorsen arrives.
No one said anything to Dunlap.
"I was here probably four or five days before I was in Dana's office on, like, a Sunday and we were planning a recruiting trip and he said, 'We need to go here and here and here,'" Dunlap said.
Dunlap stopped things before they went any further and addressed the obvious.
"That means I still have a job?" he asked.
Holgorsen smirked. "Yeah, why do you ask?"
Dunlap was reintroduced Monday as WVU's full-time special team's coordinator, meaning the man who was in charge of WVU's kickoff and punt defense last season and who has had some influence various units since he returned to WVU in 2007, will run the outfit in 2012.
"You've got to have somebody to blame," Dunlap said. "Now you can call me in after the game. 'OK, what happened?' "
What happened to Dunlap is he was maybe never in danger of losing his job. He worked with Holgorsen more last year than did the three coaches who left and Dunlap figures that helped him and Holgorsen get to know one another quicker and better.
"I have a little different relationship with Dana as far as being a defensive coach because I was always involved in special teams," Dunlap said.
"I had to communicate with him a lot more, whether we punt or don't punt, things like that. Our relationship was pretty good."