West Virginia Football: Should Fans Be Worried About Dana Holgorsen's New Hires?

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 11, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 15:  West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen looks on during a game against the James Madison Dukes at FedExField on September 15, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

After a disappointing inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference, the West Virginia football coaching staff was bound to undergo some changes.

The first dominoes fell during Pinstripe Bowl preparation.

Cornerbacks coach and recruiting ace Daron Roberts was let go after the Mountaineers finished the regular season near the bottom of the nation in pass defense.

Keith Patterson was promoted to full-time defensive coordinator, relegating Joe DeForest to the associate head coach role with no defensive title. 

It appears as though DeForest will take on the Special Teams Coordinator since the departure of Steve Dunlap—yet another domino falling from the WVU staff (via WVIllustrated.com).

All of this has left quite a void on the West Virginia sideline.

Fans had hoped the Mountaineers would be able to pull in Chip West from Virginia and even Tom Bradley, the one-time interim head coach at Penn State, to help fill that void.

However, for a multitude of reasons, neither of those hires happened.

So now, it appears as though another pair of coaches will be brought in, but won't bring the same caliber of resume.

Earlier this week, Allan Taylor of WV MetroNews reported that, according to his sources, WVU will add Tony Gibson and Brian Mitchell to its coaching staff, though neither of the hires have been officially announced by the university.

Gibson is a West Virginia native and was a member of the Mountaineer coaching staff during the Rich Rodriguez era. He also joined Rodriguez in Michigan and Arizona.

Last year, Gibson was the safeties coach for the Wildcats and is known to be an excellent recruiter.

That's all fine and dandy until we take a look at the fact that Arizona finished No. 121 in the nation in pass defense last season.

To be fair, West Virginia finished No. 122, so I suppose there's some improvement.

Mitchell was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at East Carolina for the past couple of seasons and also coached at BYU and Texas Tech.

That all sounds great as well, except for the fact that ECU finished No. 110 in the country in passing defense. 

WVU, ECU and Arizona all allowed more than 30 points per game last season.

However, these two can't be judged simply on their defensive numbers last season.

Both should be given a fair shake and the opportunity to prove themselves at WVU, but at the same time, it is clear that they were both a second option in the hiring process.

There was quite a bit of upheaval among the West Virginia fan base after last year's 7-6 finish, so the ice beneath the sneakers of head coach Dana Holgorsen will become thinner and thinner with every loss in 2013.

He knows this, so he can't be too happy with how this offseason is going so far.

Next season, Holgorsen may be one big blowout loss away from seeing that ice below his feet shatter. With that threat looming, we should see just what West Virginia's head coach is made of.

The Mountaineers will be without an enormous portion of the offensive production that carried them through numerous games in 2012. As a result, WVU will have a whole new identity in 2013 and will need improved play on the defensive end.

Next season will be very telling about exactly who Holgorsen is as a coach, but the biggest question right now is simple.

Once that ice begins to fracture, is Holgorsen going to have the right people in place to help navigate those icy waters?