Chuck Landon: West is Chip off the ol’ state
This will be Chip West’s first Marshall Green and White spring scrimmage on Saturday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Let’s just say this isn’t the new Marshall University cornerbacks coach’s first spring soiree.
Far from it.
In fact, this isn’t even his first spring practice in the state of West Virginia.
Why, it isn’t even West’s first spring practice coaching in Conference USA.
Suffice it to say, about eight different schools have taken note of his resume and said, “Go West, young man.”
“I’ve been around the block a little bit,” said West, smiling at his own understatement.
Yet, it certainly didn’t start out that way.
In fact, West was as far away from being a college football assistant coach as he could have gotten back in 1995 when this saga actually begins.
“I was in the business world and had a computer analyst job,” said West.
Then, it happened.
West met the irrepressible Steve Dunlap. Anyone who is acquainted with the former West Virginia University star linebacker and defensive coach realizes it is virtually impossible to say no to Dunlap.
“I stopped doing that to become a graduate assistant at WVU,” said West. “I was a defensive graduate assistant for Coach Dunlap back in 1996-97-98 for about two and a half years.
“Then, Coach Dunlap got me my first job at Colgate back in ’99.”
And who attended Marshall’s scrimmage a week ago to confirm this unusual change in careers? Dunlap.
“I made Chip my computer guy on the staff,” said a smiling Dunlap, who also was Marshall’s defensive coordinator in 2007.
Then, as the circle of coaching life turns, West was hired by then-Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert in 2018, as co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach. So, when Lambert was fired at Charlotte, he returned to Marshall, where he had served as secondary coach under former head coach Jim Donnan.
Naturally, Lambert brought West with him to Marshall.
So, that’s how West attained the unusual distinction of being a member of the football coaching staffs at both of West Virginia’s FBS programs.
There’s not a lot of people who can say that.
“No, there’s not,” he agreed. “There’s not a lot of people who can say that, that’s right.”
Except, of course, Dunlap.
If readers’ heads are spinning right about now, imagine how West feels.
“I am from Hampton, Virginia,” explained West, “but I am making West Virginia my home once again. Second state, right?”
Now, West and Lambert are reunited on the defensive side of the ball again at Marshall — of all places. Fate can be one very curious creature.
So, how does he like it at Marshall?
“I love it,” said West. “I love the fact that I have a job, for one. But, for two, 20-some years ago I was with Doc (Marshall head coach Doc Holliday), as well. I was a graduate assistant when Doc was an assistant coach at WVU.
“It’s good to be back. It’s not like I didn’t know Coach Holliday. I’ve been knowing him a long time.”
That’s a pretty good head start.
“Oh, without a doubt,” said West. “You’re talking 20-plus years of a relationship with Doc and Coach Dunlap.”
That’s where it all started for West.
Here is where it is continuing.
There’s a certain symmetry to that.
It seems Chip is putting the West in West Virginia college football coaching.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.