The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 24, 2014

Gibson: Defensive coordinator job ‘a dream come true’

MORGANTOWN — What had been a nightmare for the last two defensive coordinators was called “a dream come true” for West Virginia University’s newest D.C., as Tony Gibson was finally officially announced as Dana Holgorsen’s fourth defensive coordinator in four years.

Holgorsen took the opportunity presented by the annual pre-spring practice media luncheon on Friday to officially announce Gibson’s appointment that had long been reported on the Internet.

Gibson will not only coordinate but also coach the linebackers, which is a change for him as he has mostly handled corners and safeties.

“Obviously all my experience came in the back end. I coached linebackers at smaller schools, when I was a coordinator there,” he said, referring back to his days at Cumberland (Tenn.) University and West Virginia University Tech.

“To be involved and get a handle on both the run game and the passing game, coaching linebackers is the best place I can be, and I need to be there,” he said.

That means that newcomer Damon Cogdell will coach the defensive line, even though he was a linebacker when he played at WVU; Brian Mitchell will remain with the cornerbacks and Joe DeForest will return to coaching defense with the safeties.

Newly hired Tom Bradley’s defensive assignment has yet to be announced beyond senior associate head coach.

“It’s obviously a dream come true to be in my home state, coaching the Mountaineers in the role I am going to be in,” Gibson said.

This, of course, is just his second season back at WVU and working with Holgorsen, but he doesn’t see that as a problem.

“Everyone says it’s come quickly. Well, this is my 20th year as a college football coach,” he noted. “They say, ‘You’re young.’ Well, no, this is my 14th year at the Division I level. How much longer do you have to go to get your opportunity?”

Still, the choice will surely be second-guessed for the way the WVU defense has performed the past two years with DeForest and Keith Patterson, an experienced coordinator, in charge. There are those who would cry out for someone with stronger credentials than Gibson offers.

Gibson was at WVU with Rich Rodriguez from 2001 to 2007 working with the defensive backs, then went to Michigan with Rodriguez from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, he coached defensive backs at Pitt under Patterson. He then joined Rodriguez at Arizona for one season before returning home last year.

“The thing I’m most grateful for is Dana giving me the opportunity and not shying away from it, attacking it and saying, ‘Hey, it’s your deal; let’s get it done,’” he said. “For someone to have that much confidence in me after working one year with me, he’s going to get the best I have to offer.”

Not that Gibson wouldn’t jump at such an opportunity, for while he is inheriting a defense that struggled a year ago, much of it was due to injury, which meant that a lot of players got experience, especially at the linebacker position he is taking over.

“That was another reason when Dana came to me and asked me if I wanted to coach the defense, I said, ‘Heck, yeah!’ That’s where all the experience is. Guys like (Jared) Barber and (Wes) Tonkery and (Brandon) Golson and Shaq (Petteway), they have played a lot of football.

“You look throughout the defense. We have a lot of kids who played a lot of football last year. They have a feel for it. They’re hungry. Once you play and have that feel, it makes you want it even more. I think that’s where the attitude of our kids is right now … We’re going to attack today and let’s get better and then move on to tomorrow.”

And if he sounds excited, he says his players share the feeling.

“We’ve had good meetings with the players. They understand the role I’m taking on. We’ve talked about the future and are going to forget about last year. It’s over. Let’s move on and get better,” he said.

“We do reference back … ‘Hey, why did we struggle at times?’ and ‘Hey, why did we do well at times?’ I think it all goes back to effort, ‘want to’, keep the schemes simple and give the kids a chance to play fast.”

The result is high hopes of improvement.

“Right now the kids are excited,” Gibson said. “There’s a great tradition at West Virginia. There’s a winning tradition at West Virginia. We’ve always had tough kids that played hard. They’re hungry.

“I like our kids. I like our attitude right now. They’re ready to work and they have been showing that in off-season workouts.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads