STILLWATER — The familiar setting provided an unfamiliar feel for Joe DeForest.
As Stillwater celebrated around him, toasting a huge late-season conference win, the long-time Cowboy assistant somberly slumped in the halls of Gallagher-Iba Arena, quietly answering the now-weekly questions about his struggling defense.
What happened to West Virginia in its 55-34 defeat at the hands of OSU, a fourth consecutive loss for a team once ranked in the top-10?
“We made some elementary mistakes out there today, which is hard to live with,” DeForsest responded.
What was the main reason?
“It's a combination of everything. It's discipline, execution, everything,” he quipped.
The expected questions kept rolling in. And DeForest's quick answers kept coming back out.
But as the media crowd began to dwindle, a more reflective DeForest glanced around at his surroundings.
The Fallen Cowboy statue to his right, Heritage Hall less than 10 feet behind him. Much of it felt common to DeForest, an 11-year OSU veteran adopted into the Stillwater community.
But the postgame feel, now preparing for a two-hour flight home instead of a two-minute drive, was a bit different.
“Yeah, it's strange,” DeForest said. “The visiting locker room. It's just a different place.”
From a personal standpoint, DeForest deemed it a special reunion. He saw family and friends, visited old places and chatted with former colleagues, reminiscing on his underrated role in the historical transition of OSU's football program.
“I didn't talk to Gundy, but the other assistants I did,” DeForest said. “It was great to see them, talk to them some and rekindle some old friendships.”