MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Maybe the cherubic mug conveys inexperience. Perhaps the reputation of a celebrated recruiter leaves fans wondering if he actually has the coaching chops. Maybe factions of Mountaineer Nation simply will never condone Tony Gibson once leaving their nation for the not-so-promised land of Wolverines.

But here’s the thing: Gibson returned to West Virginia a year ago because he wanted to, not because he had to, and he did so by untethering himself from the very same Rich Rodriguez he notoriously followed to Michigan in December 2007.

Also, as Gibson pointed out after Friday’s public acknowledgement that he’s becoming the Mountaineers’ new defensive coordinator, he’s not new at this at all.

“Everybody says it came quick, but this is my 20th year as a college football coach,” Gibson said. “Everybody says, ‘Ah you’re young’ … well no, this is my 14th year at the Division I level.”

That nervousness peppered across the fan base? It springs from Dana Holgorsen entrusting his defense to a first-time D-I coordinator, which already happened once. In 2012. With statistically-comical results.

Yet let’s not overlook that Gibson has worked under a two-time Super Bowl-winning coordinator (Greg Robinson), a Broyles Award-nominee turned head coach (Scott Shafer) and a former Big East coordinator of the year (Jeff Casteel). Having seen solid coaches successfully orchestrate a defense, it’s his turn to put a stamp on his own defense.

Also don’t underestimate the peer power Gibson will draw from longtime friend Tom Bradley, whose Penn State units were darn salty from 2000 to 2011. Not the arrogant sort, Gibson will seek and absorb Bradley’s ideas. (The stance that Bradley should have been Holgorsen’s choice as coordinator is a non-starter, because Bradley wouldn’t be coming to WVU if not for his connection with Gibson.)

Enveloped by reporters at a spring kickoff luncheon inside the Milan Puskar Center, Gibson thanked Holgorsen for pushing through the promotion, “for attacking it and saying ‘Hey, man, it’s your deal—let’s go get it done.'”

Added Gibson: “For someone to have that much confidence in me after one year of working with him, he’s going to get the best that I have to offer.”

Squarely in Gibson’s favor was Holgorsen’s longing for at least a sliver of continuity. With WVU about to tap its fourth defensive coordinator in four years, the boss heavily factored how Gibson shared the philosophy of the departed Keith Patterson, which also meant sharing terminology and giving players a comfortable point of reference. If statistical gains were sorely lacking in 2013, at least the defense could benefit from some elements of familiarity.

As for concerns that Gibson’s promotion might hamper his ability to keep pulling recruits from Pennsylvania, well, those worries are entirely reasonable. So reasonable that Holgorsen raised them to Gibson when Patterson’s exit started the latest round of staff-shuffling.

“That was one of the first questions Dana asked: ‘Now, this isn’t going to affect recruiting, is it?'” Gibson said.

He trusts the relationships with high school coaches in his territory are deeply rooted enough to remain fertile.

“Phone calls and writing letters (to recruits), that’s going to get a little harder,” he admitted. “But that’s time I’ve got to find, whether it’s in the morning or at night. That’s all good. My wife’s all in—she doesn’t want me at home anyway.”

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  • Mister Man

    Great hire!!

  • tw eagle

    If Mr Gibson is good at breaking down opponents film , finding the tells, and mentally assimilating the tendencies of the offense in certain situations he'll do very well . . . Mr Cogdell will more than likely handle the Mounties D personnel & their lineup and assignments on the field . . .
    I see this triumvirate turning a very talented group of Mountie D-men into a tough kick-ass
    Mountaineer defense . . .
    BELIEVE . . . all the right ingredients are in the right place ( WVU) . . .

  • Robin

    I have no problem with this. Just wish he would fire Dumbforrest

  • Low Rider

    I'll give Tony Gibson a chance…but I think it would have been wiser to give the DC position to Tom Bradley. Tony's career was made on the coat-tails of RR. When he left for Michigan and David Lockwood came to Morgantown the DB's at WVU were ecstatic.

    When Tony left Michigan with RR the Michigan fans were ecstatic. I am starting to see a pattern here. I think he will be in over his head…but maybe with the guidance of Bradley (a great hire for WVU and Holgorson). He can help Tony survive.

  • Jim Moltzer

    Thanks Allan for this good works! We might need to give Keith a thanks too (for leaving) ! Remember that Rome was not built in a year, I know that our coaching staff has taken a major step forward in all phases. I know that Tony will do a great job at DC. I don't know what our fans know about Tom Bradley other than he coached at Penn State. We got one heck of a coach, a recruiter, and a person in Tom Bradley that all WV fans will be happy to know about. He will help to put our pride back into our defense and our defense back into the national contention.

    • TJ

      You mean we should be happy that we hired Jerry Sandusky's BFF? Yippee?

      • Mountie in Maryland

        OMG, TJ! Reading that link sent shivers up my spine. Obviously all of Happy Valley was deeply betrayed.

      • NWFLEER

        What classless move! Jerk

        • Mister Man

          Classless for sure. Most coaches on the same staff are friends.

        • TJ

        • TJ

          It is called Google. Those two were pals. Truth hurts.

      • JWG66

        That's really sick thihking TJ. Totally u
        nfair to make a connection like that.

  • WVU_93

    We have the coaches in place that can sell WVU and we have some continuity in the scheme, now it's time for us to get back to Mountaineer Football. Before we jump to criticizing Coach Gibson too much for following the traitor to Michigan and Arizona please take into account that Casteel stayed and he left Arizona after Casteel arrived, maybe something there to consider.

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I for one am behind you all the way. We are on our way to soaring to new hights. Lets Goooooo Mountaineers and Coach Gibson.

  • mark

    Just hope that we can establish some sort of continuity and loyalty for the next several years. Anytime a WV boy has a prominent position it makes me proud. Good luck Tony.

  • In da stickes

    It saddens me to see the venom spewing from the naysayers over what should be
    a red letter day in Mountaineer athletics.
    We get an up and comer in Gibbie and a
    proven veteran in Coach Bradley. Rome
    wasn't built in a day but I like the direction
    Holgy has our program heading. Results
    matter and come January 2015 we shall
    know if these and the other moves Holgy
    has worked on since last year's mess of
    a season ended bear fruit. Gotta remain
    optimistic. HailWV!

  • Aaron

    Nice article Allen. I think you hit the nail on the head by pointing out that Gibson's been in coaching for quite some time.

    "That nervousness peppered across the fan base?"

    I won't speak for the entire fan base as to why they are nervous but I can comment on what I see from Metro news articles and that's not so much nervousness as it is that most, not all but most who speak out so vehemently against this hire are mostly uninformed.

    There are those who rant and rave, making the most asinine of comments about Holgorsen, WVU and what should be done and the simple truth, their comments are not made out of concern or loyalty for West Virginia University, they do so out of petty jealously.

    Proof of that is that even though you pointed out that were it not for Gibson, Bradley would not be coming to WVU; they still insist Bradley should be the coordinator.

    • Pfffffttttt

      So, you're basically saying that those of us who dislike Holgorsen immensely, are jealous, and that we don't want what's best for our beloved alma mater? Are you serious???!! Or are you just high?

      Way to be open-minded and accepting of differing viewpoints. Y

      You need to understand that after the first game, when Alabama kicks our ass,, you'll have more people who think like me, then think like you. More people will be screaming for Holgorsen to be fired, than saying "give him another year or two."

      Mark my words. In the mean time, try opening up your mind to differing points of view.

    • Pfffffttttt

      Why are the people who speak out about the hire "uninformed?" What makes you so INFORMED because you like the hire?

    • mad hatter

      i concur

    • mad hatter

      well said sir, i concur

    • Country Roads

      @ Aaron I agree with your post. a good one. Sometimes I think we got a lot of want to be coaches because they maybe sometime in the pass coached a little bit in high school something along that line think they know it all.

  • jay zoom

    what about that loser we got from Penn State, if they got rid of him can't be to special if he was in broadcasting for two years. THANKS OLLIE and your buddy Dana. oh by the way who is in line for the D.C. next year.

  • wvrefugee

    Smoke and mirrors! Traveling your FB team to Wheeling and Charleston to recapture $$$ lost the past two seasons for Spring Ball.....Luck's Carnival! The worst thing for Tony is that between Bradley and Deforrest, he will be the one making the least amount of money! Smoke and Mirrors!!

  • Stanley

    good luck guys. I think the head coach picked the right man. nice article Mr. Taylor.

  • wvajoker

    It should never be hard to find a coach. All one would have to do is read the comments section here and find all the experts.

    • Greg

      So true!

  • mad hatter

    i just will have to wait and see,,, no , i wouldn't have given him the job, but it's not up to me. Bradley probably would have been a much better choice.
    But , Gibson is the choice, i feel the D can only get better , it has been so bad the last two yrs..
    I just hope Bradley has a lot of input into the schemes, and people placement as he gets used to the personnel.
    Someone will need to teach cogdell about his position, but hopefully they won't put too much pressure on him and things will work out in the long term..;l
    It;s gonna be interesting just what the duties of bradley will be,,, is he Dana's assistant head coach? i think maybe luck is kinda preparing us for a HC change if things don't work out this or next yr, and Bradley just may be the replacement.

    • Protechcpa

      I am all in on this one. Not saying the decision has been made, I do think Holgorsen will have the opportunity to salvage his career at WVU. But I do think the table is being set for a stable transition if we see more of the same. Am I giving Luck too much credit?

    • Ut Oh

      And Coach Mad Hatter, can we go ahead and dispense of your credentials so that all these non believers can see that you do IN FACT know what your spewing about. We just need to see that YOU are the one qualified to give Holgy and Lucky the guidance that can push us over the top and never lose a game again. Well I for one can't wait!

      • mad hatter

        well said , you migrated inbred, mutant , one eyed hillbilly...

    • KeatonsCorner

      More smoke and mirrors from the WVU Athletic Department in an effort to sell tickets.

      After the first game, WVU will be 0-1...and it will only go down hill from there.

      Just sayin...

      • Pfffffttttt

        You're absolutely spot on.

      • Jim Kinzer

        Since we are stealing user names, I'll just use your real one here....

        Folks don't know the coaching talent that comes out of the drunks at the Eleanor, WV VFW..... Right Jim?

        • mad hatter

          like you

    • Leroy j Gibbs

      Good point about coaching change