By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen completed his coaching staff in a big way Friday, naming veteran Joe Paterno assistant Tom Bradley to the newly created position of senior associate head football coach.
No definition was given of what Senior associate head football coach is, and while it was acknowledged that Bradley, 57, would coach defense, as he had for 33 years at Penn State, his duties were not outlined.
The announcement came shortly after Holgorsen held his annual pre-spring media luncheon during which he announced that Tony Gibson would be defensive coordinator and coach linebackers and that Damon Cogdell would coach the defensive line.
Holgorsen said at the time he had candidates for the final coaching position but did not expect to make a hire until next week.
However, shortly after the media session ended, various sources had stories saying Bradley was Holgorsen’s choice.
“Tom brings numerous years of successful college coaching experience and versatility,” Holgorsen said in a statement. “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 (Gibson), 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.”
West Virginia’s defense ranked near the bottom nationally among Division I colleges in each of the past two seasons.
It will be extremely interesting to see how the chemistry works as Gibson is just beginning his first year as a defensive coordinator while Bradley’s experience is almost mind-boggling.
Nicknamed “Scrap,” Bradley was defensive coordinator under Paterno from 2000 to 2011, replacing Jerry Sandusky when he retired.
When Paterno was fired in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Bradley served the final four games of the 2011 season as interim head coach at Penn State.
He was a key figure in 13 seasons with 10 or more victories at Penn State, 20 seasons with at least 9 victories and 26 bowl appearances, including the 1982 and 1996 national championship games.
“I am truly excited to join the West Virginia football program,” Bradley said the school’s release. “I want to thank coach Dana Holgorsen and (athletic director) 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.
“It has always been my primary goal as a coach and educator to help the student-athletes succeed on the football field, but more importantly as students and future graduates. I look forward to meeting the team, coaches, support staff, faculty, administration and West Virginia alumni. West Virginia has a great history and tradition, and I am honored to be a part of its future. “
After his tenure at Penn State, Bradley worked on the Pittsburgh Steelers Broadcast Network and as a Clear Channel Radio analyst. In 2013, he joined the CBS Sports Network broadcast team and made his debut for the network as an analyst for Army football games.
During the 2011 season, the Penn State defense ranked in the Top 20 nationally in four of the primary categories, including scoring (5th, 16.8 ppg), pass efficiency defense (6th, 107.2), pass (17th, 190.6 ypg) and total defense (20th, 323.9 ypg).
From 2004-09, he guided the defense to six consecutive Top 15 finishes in total and scoring defense. The 2008 unit was one of only four nationally to rank in the Top 10 in rushing, total and scoring defense and lead the Big Ten in rushing and total defense.
In 2005, Bradley was named one of the Top 10 recruiters in the nation by SportsIllustrated.com. That year, his defense was one of only five in the nation to finish in the Top 20 in rushing (7th, 93.0 ypg), pass efficiency, total and scoring defense (10th, 17.0 ppg) and had three All-Americans. He coached Alan Zemaitis to first-team All-Big Ten honors and second team All-American distinction.
The 2004 defense ranked in the Top 10 nationally in total, scoring and pass defense and was the only one in the country to not allow more than 21 points in a game.
The 2002 defense produced two All-Americans and first-round NFL Draft choices and ranked No. 11 nationally at 17.5 ppg.
Bradley coached safety James Boyd, who earned third-team All-America honors in 2000, cornerback David Macklin, who earned first-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-America accolades in 1998, safety Kim Herring to first-team All-America honors and cornerback Brian Miller to All-Big Ten first-team honors in 1996.
As special teams’ coordinator, one of his prized pupils was O.J. McDuffie, who earned school records in punt returns and yards and was a first-round NFL Draft choice of the Miami Dolphins.
Another of his top students was Shane Conlan, a two-time All-American, who played in the NFL for nine years.
Bradley was a member of the Penn State football team, earning letters in 1977 and ’78. The Johnstown, Pa., native, earned his bachelor’s degree in business in 1979 and his master’s degree in sports administration in 1986, both from Penn State. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1979 and became a full-time staff member in 1980.
NOTES: Holgorsen and the players named five captains for spring practice – kicker Mike Molinari, tight end Cody Clay and offensive tackle Quinton Spain along with safety Karl Joseph and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. … New this year is a plan to have practices open to the public around the state, on March 22 in Wheeling, on March 29 in Morgantown, on April 5 in Charleston and the spring game on April 12, all of it weather allowing. … Holgorsen said the idea was his to bring the team closer to the public. … QB Clint Trickett is going to be recovered enough from shoulder surgery to throw in the spring but not take part in drills. … LB Wes Tonkery, who has had numerous shoulder surgeries and thumb surgery, will miss the spring but is expected ready July 1, as is LB Jared Barber, coming off knee surgery. … S Jeremy Tyler might be recovered from his injury at the end of the spring. Everyone else should be ready to go.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.