Dana Holgorsen offers job to former Mountaineers assistant

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An old name resurfaced this week at West Virginia as Dana Holgorsen worked to finalize his defensive staff after one of the program's worst defensive seasons.

Tony Gibson, a longtime assistant for Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona, has been offered a position to return to the Mountaineers, along with former Eastern Carolina defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell.

Gibson and Mitchell are going through the university's evaluation process, according to a Post-Gazette source.

Exactly which titles the two will hold is unclear. But Holgorsen fired cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts at the end of the regular season then dismissed longtime Mountaineers assistant Steve Dunlap Saturday. Dunlap handled the outside linebackers and special teams.

Many fans expressed outrage on social media sites over the return of Gibson, but local high school coaches said Gibson's strength is his ability to recruit Western Pennsylvania.

"He's a good recruiter," Latrobe coach Ray Reitz said. "The kids like him because he's personable. Tony is young and he has a good perspective, he relates to the young high school athlete. He has all the ties, and has all the major connections. I think it'll help them."

Reitz got to know Gibson when he was coaching at Jeannette and Gibson was recruiting Terrelle Pryor.

Gibson is a West Virginia native and worked with the Mountaineers on Rich Rodriguez's staff from 2001-07 as cornerbacks coach and eventually recruiting coordinator. He spent the past season on Rodriguez's staff at Arizona as safeties/defensive special teams coach where his team finished the season ranked No. 117 in passing defense. The Wildcats announced Wednesday he was no longer with the program.

Gibson also is connected with current West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. The two worked together for a season at Pitt during Todd Graham's brief stint coaching the Panthers.

Mitchell was fired Thursday by East Carolina from his role as defensive coordinator. The Pirates finished the season ranked No. 106 against the pass and No. 87 in total defense.

He had been on that staff since 2010 after four years as a cornerbacks coach at Texas Tech, where he crossed paths with Holgorsen as members of Mike Leach's staff. Before that, Mitchell was an assistant at Brigham Young.

East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill spoke highly of Mitchell in a statement released last week: "There's never a good time to make a coaching change, especially one that involves a friend and colleague who I respect professionally. However, I have the responsibility and commitment to maintain the best interest for this program and East Carolina University."

West Virginia, which was 7-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12 Conference, ranked last in Division I-A for most of the season against the pass.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter: @JennMenendez.


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