When unranked Texas Tech plays host to No. 5 West Virginia at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, there will be at least one person standing on the Red Raiders' sideline who knows both the Mountaineers and their second year head coach Dana Holgorsen.
In his third season at the Texas Tech helm, Tommy Tuberville became familiar with WVU when he was the head coach at Auburn from 1999-2008. During his tenure with the Tigers, his teams won 85 games. None of those, however, came against the old gold and blue.
Tuberville, who entered the 2008 campaign on the coaching hot seat, brought his Auburn squad to Morgantown to take on Bill Stewart's Mountaineers and standout quarterback Pat White. The result was a 34-17 setback-one of seven suffered by the Tigers that season-and one more reason for the Auburn faithful to clamor for his departure.
The Arkansas native stepped away from the game for a short period of time before resurfacing in Lubbock in 2010 as the newest head coach of the Red Raiders. His first team recorded an 8-5 mark (3-5 in the Big 12 South) and won the Music Ticket City Bowl.
However, last year was not as successful as Texas Tech dropped to a 5-7 overall mark and only 2-7 in the Big 12. Rumblings again were heard during the offseason and as the veteran head coach headed into the fall.
A 4-0 start to open this season had many believing that Tech was prepared to challenge for the Big 12 crown, but a 40-20 loss to preseason favorite Oklahoma last weekend has rekindled the talk surrounding Tuberville's fate.
Now, the 1976 graduate of Southern Arkansas University finds himself faced with another WVU team-coached by former Texas Tech offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen-led by another outstanding quarterback, Geno Smith.
"No. 1, you have to have a quarterback," Tuberville said during Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "And, they have a good one and they trust him. I don't think he's throw an interception so he understands the importance of taking care of the football.
"He'll stay in the pocket for as long as he can and if he has too, he'll take a sack because he knows that the important thing is to remember there is always another play."
Smith is coming off of a 4-touchdown passing performance in the win over then-No. 11 Texas, but Tuberville was just as impressed with the Mountaineers' running attack.
"Dana's been around it (the spread) for a while," said Tuberville. "Dana understands running the ball. It takes the pressure off of your quarterback. And, they are very physical with their running game."
A running game that produced 271 yards on 35 attempts the last time a Tuberville-led team met WVU-207 rung up by Noel Devine.
"There really are two types of spread offenses," said the coach.
"One tries to spread you out to run the football while the other spreads you out with the idea of throwing the ball."