"I visited West Virginia three years ago to research the offense," Jones told BlueGoldNews.com in an exclusive interview. "That was the first contact I had with the program, but I got to know Coach Rodriguez a bit then. I was taking over as offensive coordinator at Central Michigan, and we were moving to more of a style that West Virginia played – no huddle, spread. Also, when I was an intern at Tampa [the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers], Calvin Magee was still playing. I've known Calvin for a long time."
Those ties put Jones on the short list of Mountaineer candidates, and after a lengthy interview with Rodriguez, he was offered the job.
"I met with Coach Rod for a long period," Jones recounted. "We talked and got to know each other. We talked about the philosophies of the offense, his beliefs and what he wanted out of the wide receiver position. They were pretty much the same as mine, so I think it was a perfect match."
Jones will have a bit of a leg up on the job, as he has been coordinating an offense that shares many strategies and philosophies with the Mountaineer attack.
"I do think that will help," Jones said of running the same offense at his previous stop. "It's important that I ran what West Virginia runs. It's a little different than your traditional offense, so learning the offense will probably come a little bit easier for me.
"Getting the temp is probably the biggest thing, I'll have to learn, and communication is a big key too. When I was the offensive coordinator under Coach DeBord [at Central Michigan] we were entirely no huddle. And Coach Kelly also runs a no huddle style offense, so I've been doing this a little over four years."
Now that he's on board (he begins his duties at WVU on Friday), Jones is eyeing the first steps he will have to take in familiarizing himself with the Mountaineer program. He hasn't talked specifics yet, such as how he will be involved in signaling plays and such, but he does have some specific goals in mind for his first few weeks on the job.
"The first thing is I need to do is get to know the current players," Jones said. "I need to learn about them and the program, their backgrounds, and their strengths. I think that meeting people and getting to know them and establish the foundation of relationships is very important.
"I don't think it will be difficult getting to know the kids," Jones continued. "I've worked for three different head coaches in seven years [at Central Michigan]. So every time there, you work with new assistants and meet new people. I'm looking forward to that part of it."
"Coming in to next year, we will all be kind of new, so to speak," Jones said, describing the youth on the Mountaineers' receiving roster. "But I think we can build that trust as we go. We'll all be in it together, so I think that can help the process a little bit. It's all about building relationships.
You have to know your kids. Some you have to get after, and some you may have to take them aside and give them a little love. It's an individual process. As a coach, you have to know the right buttons to push.
Jones, who has recruited in the Chicago area and on the west coast of Florida, among others, likewise hasn't been told much yet about his recruiting duties, but he has no doubts he can be successful.
"I feel if you are a good recruiter you can recruit anywhere," Jones said. "I don't know what specific areas I will be in yet. We'll probably talk about that once things settle down and recruiting finishes up for this year. I'll do whatever they ask me to do. I'm not sure how involved I will be in this year's class."
Jones' familiarity with the offense might put him in a position to contribute a bit more quickly than other new assistants coming in, but he wants to make sure he knows his players before anything.
"The great thing here is that West Virginia has a great offense. They have a great philosophy, and have been very very successful. I'm sure that when we get in staff meetings, when there's something I can bring to the table I'll share it, but one thing I have to do first is know the personnel and figure out what they can and can't do and then build from there. I'm looking forward to working with the offensive staff."
Jones had a good job at CMU, but couldn't turn down the opportunity to coach at West Virginia. While a graduate assistant at Rutgers, he made one trip to Mountaineer Field, and was impressed.
"I said to myself, ‘What a great place to play. I would like to have the opportunity to coach here some day. The atmosphere, the fan support was great,' Jones recalled. "You are looking at a program that has great tradition. It says a lot to step on the field every Saturday and have a chance to win. I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of it."