MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has agreed to join the West Virginia coaching staff, industry sources told MetroNews on Friday.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen subsequently confirmed the hiring hours later with an announcement that Bradley would become senior associate head coach and work with newly promoted defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.
“Tom brings numerous years of successful college coaching experience and versatility,” Holgorsen said. “He is an excellent defensive teacher, has high energy and intensity and gives us a proven recruiter with regional and national ties. I look forward to Tom joining the Mountaineer family, and I know he will work extremely well with Tony, our defensive coordinator. The two have known each other for quite some time and share many of the same philosophies. We have put together a strong defensive staff under Tony’s leadership.”
The 57-year-old Bradley becomes the most experienced member of the West Virginia defensive staff, having served 33 seasons under Joe Paterno at Penn State—and even spending a four-game stint as interim head coach when Paterno was fired late in the 2011 season. Bradley was an assistant on two national championship teams, three Big Ten champions and coached in 26 bowl games.
“I am truly excited to join the West Virginia football program,” Bradley said in a statement issue by WVU. “I want to thank Coach Dana Holgorsen and Oliver Luck for this tremendous opportunity to contribute to the continued growth and success of the Mountaineer football program. Tony Gibson and I have recruited against each other in Pennsylvania for a lot of years, and it will be good to finally be on his side. I look forward to working with my friend to build a strong defensive unit at West Virginia.”
Holgorsen confirmed during a spring media luncheon Friday what MetroNews previously reported: that Gibson was being promoted from safeties coach to defensive coordinator. Gibson will now work with linebackers, according to Holgorsen, who said the newly hired Damon Cogdell would coach defensive linemen and Joe DeForest would return to coaching safeties on top of last year’s role as special-teams coordinator.
Holgorsen joked during the luncheon that he was interviewing coaches and seeking to fill the final staff vacancy with the “best available candidate” for the staff, whether that be offensive or defensive. Coaxing Bradley back into coaching obviously represents quite a coup, particularly since the hire was made only nine days before WVU opens spring practice on March 2.
Bradley’s specific coaching assignment remained unclear, though sources said he likely would focus on the defensive front seven. His career track certainly has been one of versatility.
A former two-year letterman for the Nittany Lions at defensive back, Bradley spent 20 years coaching Penn State’s running backs, receivers, outside linebackers and secondary before succeeding Jerry Sandusky as defensive coordinator in 2000. Bradley served in that capacity for 11 seasons until revelations of the Sandusky scandal forced Paterno’s ouster and ultimately led to a retooled staff under Bill O’Brien.
Bradley’s units enjoyed a stellar run from 2004 to 2009, repeatedly ranking among the nation’s top 15 in total and scoring defense.
During his two seasons out of coaching, Bradley worked with the Steelers broadcast network and, most recently, served as a CBS Sports football analyst.