West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen announced Thursday safeties coach Tony Gibson will be promoted to defensive coordinator, making him the fourth under Holgorsen in as many years.
The move came in the wake of news former West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson left the program for the same position at Arizona State Feb. 6.
Say what you will about the defense, but I believe Holgorsen made the right decision in hiring within the program, rather than bringing in an outside name and starting from scratch.
And let’s be honest, the time on Holgorsen’s rebuilding project is beginning to dwindle, making this no time to test-drive a new defensive system.
Gibson’s greatest asset to the Mountaineers is continuity. The Van, W.Va., native is likely to retain the 3-4 scheme Patterson installed to help ease the transition.
Gibson is very familiar with the scheme, having worked closely with Patterson during a one-year stint at Pittsburgh in 2011 as well as the 2013 season.
It was a high recommendation from Patterson that Gibson found himself back at West Virginia last season after previous stops at Michigan, Pittsburgh and Arizona.
Gibson served as defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at West Virginia from 2001-07 under Rich Rodriguez.
During that time, Gibson coached standouts like Adam Jones, Jahmile Addae, Mike Lorello, Eric Wicks and Keith Tandy. Also, six of Gibson’s players were selected in the NFL Draft and eight earned All-Big East honors.
Most recently, Gibson has earned a name for himself as an ace recruiter, securing three 2014 Pittsburgh-area commitments in four-star athlete Dravon Henry, three-star defensive end Jaleel Fields and three-star receiver Ricky Rogers.
“Mr. Pittsburgh,” as Holgorsen referred to Gibson during his signing day press conference, has strong ties in talent-rich western Pennsylvania, a perennial West Virginia pipeline.
Holgorsen made an earlier defensive hire in January, bringing former Miramar High School (Miramar, Fla.) head coach Damon Cogdell to coach linebackers.
Both Gibson and Cogdell will face a tough task in revitalizing a defense No. 101 in total defense and No. 99 in scoring defense in 2013.
Now entering his ninth season with the Mountaineers, it’s yet to be seen if Gibson can call plays as well as he recruits. One thing’s for sure, though: he’ll have his hands full preparing for a date with Alabama Aug. 30.