The Potential Return of a Native Son

(Photo by WVU Athletics) 

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — If the West Virginia Mountaineers can’t beat Pitt in the Backyard Brawl at home, there is a very good chance that Neal Brown will go from being on the hot seat to having his seat on fire. With that, there has been quite a bit of speculation as to who could replace him if he doesn’t survive the 2023-2024 season.

My choice? Tony Gibson.

Now at NC State, Gibson was the defensive coordinator for the Mountaineers from 2014 to 2018. He put together some solid defenses at WVU with his unique 3-3-5 stack. His most notable coaching job came in 2015 when his defense put together two shutouts in 13 games (44-0 vs. Georgia Southern, 49-0 at Kansas).

He has now carried that success over to NC State, being named a Broyle’s Award nominee for the 2022 season.

Gibson, now 51 years old, seems primed to land his first opportunity at a head coaching gig in his career. Though many may believe it would be best for him to try the Group of Five waters first, the Van, West Virginia native could be just what the Mountaineers are looking for in their next head coach.

First off, he would be a complete change of pace hire from the last two head coaches – Dana Holgorsen and Neal Brown. Both are descendants of the Hal Mumme tree, and have offense-first philosophies. Gibson would obviously bring a defensive focused attack with him. This could bring a complete shift in style of play for West Virginia, a change that they so desperately need right now.

Quite possibly the best trait that Gibson brings with him is that his players love him. They play hard for him, and also play with a gritty toughness. If you can remember, he brought the “DAWGS” with him every game day.





That is an attitude, ladies and gentlemen, that could produce big results in the Big 12.

Last but not least, let’s talk the most important quality of Gibson’s. HE IS A WEST VIRGINIAN! He knows what this program means to the state – he cares. It would almost certainly be his dream job. He would not be looking at WVU as a stepping stone, this would be his endgame. This would be the job that he would hope to bring him into retirement.

This can’t be said about many of the potential candidates for the Mountaineers.

He’s coached in a lot of games, he was Dana Holgorsen’s right hand man, he’s a West Virginian, and his guys play with an edge. Tony Gibson knows the Mountaineer program. This fit just makes way too much sense for the Mountaineers to just brush over Gibson and not give him a chance. Rich Rodriguez is far too divisive; half of the fanbase would love the hire and the other half might not ever attend another West Virginia because they hate him so much.

Gibson is a beloved figure in the state and a perfect fit for the Mountaineers. Turning the keys over to someone like Tony Gibson, who is the opposite of Neal Brown, who cares and understands how important winning football games is in the state is the best solution for the program.