West Virginia Football: What New DC Tony Gibson Brings to Mountaineers

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterFebruary 13, 2014

Credit: 247Sports

It's not official yet, but it may as well be.

On Wednesday, Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports reported what has been the worst-kept secret in West Virginia football for some time: Safeties coach Tony Gibson will be promoted to defensive coordinator. 

Gibson would replace Keith Patterson, who left last week to be the defensive coordinator at Arizona State. 

Gibson, a West Virginia native and a disciple of Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, is entering Year 2 of his second stint with the Mountaineers. Gibson was an assistant under Rodriguez at the University of Arizona in 2012, at Michigan from 2008-10 and at WVU from 2001-07. Gibson also played under Rodriguez at Glenville State from 1991-94. 

Gibson has primarily served as a defensive backs coach throughout his career, though he does have limited experience as a coordinator. He served as the pass defense coordinator at Pitt under head coach Todd Graham in 2011 and was the DC at West Virginia Tech from 1999-00. 

For what it's worth, Pitt finished 72nd against the pass in 2011. West Virginia finished 99th in scoring defense and 102nd in total defense in 2013. 

That makes this a risky hire for Dana Holgorsen, who enters a crucial year as the Mountaineers head coach. It's far too early to call this a make-or-break season for Holgorsen, but the time needed to rebuild is slowly winding down. 

West Virginia will be on its fourth DC in as many yearsPerhaps with that in mind, Holgorsen thought it was best to promote from within rather than install another system. Gibson is familiar with West Virginia's 3-4 defense, and according to Feldman, he will keep the same terminology. 

Turnover at the assistant level has been a problem for Holgorsen. Patterson was the ninth assistant to leave or be let go from Holgorsen's staff over the past two years. Only former quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital, now the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, left for a promotion. 

So what Gibson may lack in coordinator experience, he makes up for in continuity. That's something the Mountaineer program desperately needs right now. Many of the players on West Virginia's roster are on their second or third position coach. 

He's also well-liked and respected within the program. 

Still, Gibson will likely be on a short leash with fans, and the season opener against Alabama is not exactly the the best way for Gibson to ease into the job. 

A good defensive showing against the Tide would provide some cautious optimism, but the verdict on Gibson will likely be a season-long one. 

Gibson gives the Mountaineer defense a familiar face to lead them. That much is known. His play-calling chops, on the other hand, remain to be seen.


Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com