Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

March 28, 2013

Was WVU football defense worst ever?

MORGANTOWN — Were you satisfied with West Virginia University’s football defensive unit in 2012?

I most certainly wasn’t. Late in that season, Joe DeForest, then the men’s defensive coordinator at $500,000 pay annually, was demoted and assigned other duties.

Now we are being told WVU paid DeForest’s buyout debt of $305,500 to Oklahoma State. That’s where DeForest was hired by current head football coach Dana Holgorsen and brought him to Morgantown.

The two had worked together at Oklahoma State for one year and apparently had become good friends.

The financial manuscripts on DeForest were obtained by The Dominion Post in response to its Freedom of Information Act request.

DeForest, who joined the Mountaineer staff in January 2012, previously was OSU’s assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach.

Counting his base salary of $500,000 and the $305,500 buyout to obtain his services, DeForest is the highest paid assistant football coach — by far — in the history of WVU’s football program history.

Obviously, the university agreed in DeForest’s highest-ever assistant coach contract to pay “liquidated damages” to Oklahoma State on his behalf.

Jeff Casteel, former WVU defensive coordinator, is now in a similar role at Arizona. He was paid $400,000 then and that made Casteel the highest paid assistant here. He resigned, with two other assistants, shortly before Holgorsen hired DeForest.

Casteel was an excellent coach and his defensive units were, in my opinion, far better than the one last season.

The Mountaineers struggled on defense throughout the 2012 campaign, finishing with a deeply disappointing 7-6 record – and a third straight loss to an underdog Syracuse team in the Pinstripe Bowl at New York’s frigid, snowy Yankee Stadium.

How bad was that 2012 football defense?

West Virginia wound up ranking 114th nationally (out of 120 Division I teams) in scoring defense (38.1 points per game). That is the most in WVU history.

The team was ranked 108th in total defense (472.5 yards per game) and 118th in pass defense (312.5 yards per game).

The Mountaineers allowed more passing touchdowns (38) than any of that year’s teams except Colorado (39).

Keith Patterson was named defensive coordinator before the post-season bowl game.

DeForest still is on the staff as special teams coordinator and associate head coach. It’s assumed that he’s still being paid $500,000 a year under his continuing contract.

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MICKEY FURFARI