WEST LIBERTY - Scott Cook has known brand new West Virginia University offensive line coach Ron Crook for 26 years.
Cook, today the dean of enrollment and student services at West Liberty University, was a second-year football player for the Hilltoppers in the mid-1980s under Larry Shank when Crook arrived on campus from his native Parkersburg.
Six years later, current Hilltoppers head football coach Roger Waialae, then a coach at Bethany College, met Crook through his wife, Karen, who worked then - and still today -with Oglebay's golf program.
Waialae moved from Bethany to West Liberty mainly because Crook urged him too. Crook, then WLSC's offensive line coach, went so far as set up Waialae's interview because the Hilltoppers were in search of a quarterbacks coach and he thought Roger would be a perfect fit.
Both of these guys think WVU is getting one heckuva coach, just as soon as he officially signs a contract that will lure him away from his current workplace - Stanford University.
Palo Alto may seem to be a long way from West Virginia, but to hear these guys tell it, you take the home from the boy but not the boy from his home.
Crook twice coached at West Liberty - 1990-92 and 2000-2001 - and had stints at two other West Virginia Conference schools in Glenville (1997-98) and W.Va. Tech (1999).
Other stops along the way were Cincinnati (1992), Clarion (199-96), Illinois (2002), and Harvard (2003-10) prior to Stanford the last two years.
Through it all, Crook never lost track at his pals back at West Liberty. He has such affinity for the place, he married his wife, Stacy, on campus, with Cook serving as one of his groomsmen. Stacy once held a position in the WLU admissions office.
Cook said every time Crook was in town on a recruiting trip - think St. Clairsville - they'd get together. Waialae said it wasn't uncommon for the two to meet up and enjoy a few Pepsis at various coaching conventions.
Last year, the whole gang from the 1992 West Liberty staff - Waialae, Cook, Crook, Ted Gorman, Keith Phillips, TC Chapelier, and head coach Bob Eaton - met up at T.J.'s and reminisced about the old times.
Even back then, those guys knew Crook was going places.
''He would go to any clinic, any conference to learn football,'' Cook said. ''He was driven to be as much as he could be.''
It was along that path that Crook met Harry Hiestand, an offensive line coaching guru who is on the staff at Notre Dame these days and is well-respected throughout the industry for his work.
Crook met Hiestand at Cincinnati and again worked with him at Illinois. Any disciple of Hiestand's is thought to have a shot to go places.
''People want people who know what he's teaching,'' Waialae said.
Working with tight ends and offensive tackles at Stanford the last couple years, where the tight ends were as good as any in the country, also helped Crook's resume. So did a connection with WVU athletics director Oliver Luck, whose son, Andrew, played his senior year at Stanford under Crook.
''Once he was at Stanford and all of their success, I kinda figured WVU would bring him in when I saw they had an opening last week,'' Waialae said, speaking of Bill Bedenbaugh's decision to defect to the University of Oklahoma.
''It's not surprising to me that he's landed at high profile school,'' Cook said. ''I'm very happy for him. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. He's gone back and forth throughout the country. I'm glad to see him back.''
Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org