Then and now: WVU coaches had some serious swag back in the day

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .



In hopes of sweeping out of your midseason doldrums, I decided to entertain us all. I emailed a staff member at the alma maters of each of the top four West Virginia assistant coaches -- Dana HolgorsenJoe DeForestShannon Dawson and Keith Patterson.

It seemed like proper blackmail for making us all sit through a three-game losing streak the last month. On Tuesday, I showed these photos to the assistants to get a few thoughts.

Mt. Pleasant (IA) High School Class of 1989


Long before Holgorsen coached at West Virginia or Oklahoma State or Houston or Texas Tech or Wingate or Mississippi College or Valdosta State, he played at Iowa Wesleyan. Before that, he was a 1989 graduate from Mt. Pleasant High School in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

The Daily Mail's Mike Casazza had a great profile on Holgorsen and his hometown upbringing earlier this year.

Scot Lamm was the one who was able to find the yearbook for me. Here's his little message: "I was a couple years younger than Dana in school. His younger brother and I were classmates. He was always the third-best athlete in his family. I ran hurdles with him in high school and went to Iowa Wesleyan College with him for a year in football, so it's okay if you throw me under the bus for giving you these pictures. I am sure I owe him a few embarrassing moments. Hope this is what you were looking for."

And it was.

So, I asked the obvious question:

Would you recruit that kid?

DAWSON: [laughs] [pauses] [laughs again] "Probably not." 



Titusville (FL) High School Class of 1983

joe3Deforest, a Teaneck, N.J., native, went on to play college ball at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and then a few short stints with the Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints and the Calgary Stampeders (CFL).

But, man oh man, his yearbook photo is an absolute doozy.

DEFOREST: "Hey! That's my high school graduation picture. Well, I think that's where Nick O'Toole got the idea for his porn stache."

DAWSON: "That's Joe DeForest!" [bursts out laughing] "I would have to recruit him."

If you could give your 18-year-old self a message, what would it be?

DEFOREST: "If you could live your life in reverse, you'd be a lot smarter."




Silliman Institute (Clinton, LA) Class of 1996

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.17.49 AM

Dawson played under Holgorsen at Mississippi College and Wingate, but first he was a four-time all-district quarterback at Silliman Institute. He was district MVP as a junior and senior, passing for 1,495 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior in 1995.

Didn't get this photo until this morning, so didn't get a chance to ask him about this photo. Quite note, because you were curious: Kaylan Ledet, who sent me the photos, said Silliman men weren't allowed to have facial hair back then. But, let's be real, our actual questions and concerns are about his other photos below.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.18.12 AM

The second photo is the 'Mr. and Miss Silliman' photo.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.18.28 AM

This one is for 'Overall Most Athletic.'


Marlow (OK) High School Class of 1982


Patterson was a defensive back for East Central (Ada, Okla.) for four years before turning to coaching. He did just about everything at Marlow HS ... listed beneath his yearbook photo was: Baseball, 1 yr.; teacher's aid; play, 2 yrs.; student council, 3 yrs.; FCA, football, tack, basketball, 4 yrs.

He had the best reaction to my reveal on Tuesday, taking my phone and scrolling through the photos, chuckling in wonder at photos from 31 years ago.

"That's probably my dad's jacket and tie," he said. "I didn't even have to shave back then."

Would you recruit that kid?

DAWSON: "I think Keith was a much better player [than Dana]." When told was homecoming king and vote best-looking. "Oh, good gracious. Good for him."

If you could give your 18-year-old self a message, what would it be?

PATTERSON: [laughs] "Don't have a haircut like that. 18 years old, my gosh. I don't know what I'd tell myself. Boy, I was skinny, wasn't I? I needed to eat more. I wish I was still that skinny."


The left photo is for homecoming king and queen, the right for 'Most Beautiful and Handsome.'

PATTERSON: "Boy, you really did dig." 

Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.