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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  • wvtd

    after the way this clown left wvu with rr, why the heck would anyone want this person back here? he will be gone in a season or two. best to stay home for a few seasons until the smoke clears. if it ever does.

  • Mike#11

    You got to be kidding me Holgs fires Steve Dunlap to hire Tony Gibbson.Now I know he has no idea about coaches ( only his drinking buddies ). We are in for more real bad defense next year,and by the way the offense won't be very good either. Holgs could not win with 3 possible 1st round draft picks,what has he recruited to replace them ???

    • chad

      Three 1st round draft picks??? Who would that be? I only see Geno projected as a first rounder maybe. Stedman is no first rounder (3rd or 4th at best), nor is Tavon (2nd or 3rd). WVU has never had 3 first rounders on any one team and probably never will no matter who s coaching.

  • Doug

    I don't know if he is a good coach or not. I know the D was better the years he was here than when he wasn't. Also everyone is comparing the numbers from AZ, but they also had a new DC. The same one we had. The same one everyone on here ran out ot WVU for having a bad defense the year before. We have to give these guys a few years to get there system working or no one will want to coach here. The first couple of years is always a rebuild time. They need time to get there guys in their system. It seems that after one or two years, if WVU loses more than 3 games, we want a knew coach. Who would want to coach here knowing that you have two years to win or leave.

  • george76

    What a disapointment, I keep shaking my head no, no, no. This is NOT good.

  • Jeff

    Hiring more of RR guys is just a prelude to the return of the "great one"............LOL

  • thatwasgraphic

    This is simply a terrible hire. I don't care if he has Western PA on lockdown - it doesn't matter if you can't develop the players once they arrive on campus.

    I really question Dana's thought process on this one. I guess he wants to replicate Rich Rod's experience at Michigan and eventually lose his job because his defenses can't stop anyone.

  • JD Alkire

    How many coaches do you think will show up for Holgerson's coaches clinic to hear Tony Gibson and Joe Deforrest talk defense. What a joke!!!

  • Derek

    David lockwood 10x better coach and in a few yes will be a great DC.

  • Pam Burch

    just think maybe if holgerson does not work out in a few years..Rich Rod,back!.....

  • wvufan9

    The same Tony Gibson that was on the famous midnight flight to Michigan? What is going to happen when Rich Rod needs his ***** scratched and Tony leaves WVU (again) to tend to him??

  • WVU 4 lyfe

    This is the start of an era to bring back RR.Slowly bringing back his staff so we are not all shell shocked when he is back making the calls.

  • Scotthighgrad2003

    He's a good recruiter especially in the western PA area, which has a lot of talent! Remember players like eric wicks, Vaughn rivers, pat mcafee, all great players recruited by tony!

  • Tyler

    Your wrong Chad, DeForest has a 1.5 million contract for 3 years. $500,000 a year. If you fire him you have to pay him what's left on his contract. And that is $1,0000.

    • Tyler


      • chad

        Right because a contract in college football means everything

  • Gerald

    What left with Rich, should have stayed with Rich. Don't want him in WV again and defense was as terrible at Arizona as WVU. Stay in Arizona, you traitor, where the grass was greener. Terrible decision.

  • Tyler

    Geez, this goes from bad to worse. We lost Steve Dunlap because Dana simply could not fire his buddies and buy out those big contracts. 1 million for DeForest!
    Will not renew my season tickets.

    • chad

      Assistant coaches don't have buyouts.