WHEELING, W.Va. — Adorned in a V-neck sweater-and-tie combo straight out of the JoePa collection, Tom Bradley discussed his move to West Virginia, a job for which had 33 years of seasoning at Penn State.
Bradley was jovial and folksy while speaking with WVU beat reporters for the first time since his February hiring. His addition became THE story of the Mountaineers’ offseason and only became possible because of his friendship with new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.
“That had an effect on it,” Bradley said Saturday, who reportedly declined West Virginia’s first approach before agreeing to come aboard because of Gibson’s persistence.
“It’s a good opportunity to help Tony in any way that I can. He worked me good. He recruited me.”
And now it’s Bradley who’s beginning to work—and deconstruct—the defensive linemen. Not around for their recruitment, he’s trying to learn their backstories, even through informal conversations at the training table. Beyond what he sees on tape, Bradley wants to know what buttons to push on his new players (just as Gibson recognized what buttons of Bradley’s to press in luring him to Morgantown).
“As (the players) begin to trust you, they’ll tell you more and more,” Bradley said.
Having coached in 27 bowls and on two national championship staffs during his three decades at Penn State, Bradley was considered only a peripheral figure in the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal that toppled the program and caused Joe Paterno’s ouster.
It also led to Bradley spending two seasons out of coaching, though his foray into broadcasting wasn’t a dead period for professional development.
“You go out and do those television games, you sit down with the coaches and the coordinators,” he said. “You talk and they get on the board and you get on the board, and you have a lot of fun in that.”
He’ll need to continue the learning curve as he adjusts to coaching defensive linemen, one of the few units he didn’t oversee during a diverse career at Penn State.
“I’ve coached wide receivers, I’ve coached running backs at Penn State, secondary, special teams, linebackers, I’ve coordinated and been head coach,” Bradley said. “Coaching’s coaching.”