Tony Gibson has agreed to return to West Virginia as secondary coach, five years after he left WVU to join Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, a source told MetroNews late Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, Arizona announced Gibson was no longer with the program.

University of Arizona photo

Former WVU assistant Tony Gibson spent the 2012 season at Arizona.

Gibson’s hiring will fill one of two openings on the Mountaineers’ defensive staff after head coach Dana Holgorsen fired Daron Robert and Steve Dunlap.

The other opening could soon be offered to Brian Mitchell, who was fired Jan. 3 after three seasons as East Carolina’s defensive coordinator.

The 40-year-old Gibson is a native of Van, W.Va. who played defensive back at Glenville State from 1990-93. After launching his coaching career with Division II stops at Glenville, Cumberland University and West Virginia Tech, Gibson joined Rodriguez at WVU from 2001-07, serving as defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

The Mountaineers went 60-26 in that span, highlighted by three Big East titles and two BCS appearances, but Gibson and Rodriguez resigned in December 2007, leaving for Michigan four weeks before WVU upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

Gibson assisted Rodriguez during a calamitous three-year stint with the Wolverines, and after the staff was dismissed, he spent the 2011 season at Pitt, working as secondary coach alongside current WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson.

This past season, Gibson reunited with Rodriguez in Arizona, where he served as assistant head coach and oversaw the safeties and defensive special teams. The Wildcats went 8-5 with a 49-48 New Mexico Bowl victory over Nevada, but ranked 117th nationally in pass defense (292.8 yards per game), 118th in total defense (499 yards per game) and 84th in pass efficiency defense.

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  • Casual fan

    Recruiting skills and connections might have been a major factor in this hire. He knows how to coach...although Steve Dunlap did too. There is more to the job than just coaching. Glad he has WV roots.

  • Don

    Didn't anyone notice the defense of national champs. Wake up WV, defense wins titles,

    • True Blue & Gold

      What are you even talking about? He's an awful defensive coach

  • WVFL

    This is not good news. Another downer for WVU fans, its been a tough year all around post TX win. Gibson has alot to prove on the field. One good thing is he has alot of connections with PA high schools so maybe we get a little nasty. Our biggest need coaching wise is Barwis, given Dana is a not a rah rah guy and our team plays soft.

  • Earthgate21

    Oh my! Is this really true? I am in shock over this hire. I think it was Ellis Lankster that said, "he learned more in a month from Lockword then in the two years with Gibby?" wow!

    • Boothe

      That nay be so, but Lockwood was on the same Arizona defensive staff as Gibson this past season. And Arizona wasn't that much better than WVU defensively.
      If anyone here knocks Gibson based on Arizona's performance this year, remember, Lockwood - along with Casteel and Kirlav - were part of that picture too...

  • John

    He'll be coaching safeties not corners.

    • Earthgate21

      He also was one the guys involved in RR leaving and all of that mess.

      • Earthgate21

        Wasn't Gibby the one that contacted WVU recruits when they left for Michigan?

        • JTJ

          yes he did. he tried to get jenkins to turn

  • Tom

    Please tell me I have been asleep for three months and it is now April 1!

  • Michael

    Guys, do you realize that we had 8 or more freshman that played most of the season and our senior leader was Pat Miller? I am not one to bash on any kids, but no one wanted him out of 11 possible players, 9 were considered underachieving by most. Give our kids time to get better. Who knows, maybe Gibby will be just what our kids need.

    • unclec

      Have to agree very young, need to be coached. Hope they can lead them .

      • Earthgate21

        We only started two fr on defense. I am not sure were all the young stuff comes from.

        • Jped

          And one of those was an absolute beast. Karl Joseph.

          • Protechcpa

            Now, now. Remember people, WVU played 159 freshmen on defense this year and our coaching staff did everything possible to mold them into shape, but they were so green that even if we had put them ALL out there at once and told them to line up from sideline to sideline, holding hands, (which they tried a couple of times) they still were just not capable of stopping ANY offense we faced this year. Too many "trick plays" that just cannot be stopped, like "magic", as Deforest explained. Coincidentally, Gibson faced the very same problem in Michigan and then again in Arizona. Like "magic". But unbeknown to all of you, Holgorsen has a coach on the interview list named Gandalf and this guy is a real defensive wizard.

  • Jay

    The only pass defense that was almost as bad as last year ? you guessed... When Gibson was here... Check Michigan's pass D... Arizonia...
    Now I have lost almost all confidence in the current powers... The my reward... More fall fishing...

    • wvtd

      sure beats a day of hoping they can score more than 70 points to win.get ready for some long seasons. another buddy hire.

  • unclec

    At least there is some WV blood there. Hope this is a good beginning.

  • cwest37802

    I would say this was alot of Oliver Luck doings not Dana's but I'm willing to give Gibby another shot welcome back Gibby.

    • True Blue & Gold

      This was Keith Pattersons doing..they worked together at Pitt two years ago

    • Chalkdust


  • protechcpa

    Coming from a defense with rankings of 117th and 118th, he should fit right in. Another amazing hire. How does Holgorsen do it?

  • Jped

    Good grief. This is a little like going from bad to worse. Well, I guess maybe if we were 118 in total defense it is a little better than 120.

  • George

    Are you kidding me? This has to be the worst administrative blunder in the history of WVU Athletics.

  • Wvuopie

    Dana is going to lose a lot of respect with this hire. This will be the beginning of the end!!!!!


    And why are we hiring him if Arizona "ranked 117th nationally in pass defense (292.8 yards per game), 118th in total defense (499 yards per game) and 84th in pass efficiency defense." Not to mention the fact of his questionable loyalty, following Rich Rod to the "Big House."

    • Chalkdust

      I am overjoyed that so many people are investing their time and effort in our states great love affair...Mountaineer Football ! But folks, you're all over the lot on this one. He's good, he's bad , it's a commentary on Holgorsen, Oliver Luck, ect..... Take a deep breath, Tony Gibson is a good coach, wait and see, he'll help bring Mountaineer football back.

      • True Blue & Gold

        No, not "he's good, he's bad", he's DEFINITELY BAD! The proof is in the numbers, he's never coached a position to a ranking higher than 108th....he has a connection with Patterson, only reason for hire..he sucked when he was here before, he'll suck again!

        • NortherWV

          He coached and helped recruit Pacman, Ryan Mundy, Mike Lorello, Jahmile Addae, Erik Wicks, and others and coached the players who held Sam Bradford to under 250yards and 2tds 1int, id say thats a lot better than we had the past 4 years

      • Roy

        Surely you jest???I agree with USAFA!!