MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — After assistant coaching stints with four major college programs, West Virginia's Tony Gibson has both a coveted role as a defensive coordinator and the daunting task of fixing a unit that has been mostly an embarrassment the past two seasons.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen announced Gibson's appointment Friday, saying the southern West Virginia native received a standing ovation when Holgorsen told his players a few days ago.
"You can tell what kind of respect they have for him," Holgorsen said.
Gibson replaces Keith Patterson, who was hired at Arizona State.
Gibson said he won't make wholesale changes because he doesn't want his players learning yet another system, noting he's the team's fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons.
Gibson, 41, is entering his 19th season as a college assistant coach, 14 at the FBS level.
"Obviously it's a dream come true for me to be in my home state, coaching the Mountaineers and the role I'm going to be in now," Gibson said.
Gibson also will coach the linebackers. He was the safeties coach for the Mountaineers last year, when the defense was the worst in the Big 12 in passing yards and touchdown passes allowed and had the second-fewest sacks in the league. West Virginia went 4-8 in 2013.
"We've just been talking about the future. Forget about last year, it's over with. Let's move on and let's get better. And we do reference back, hey, why did we struggle at times, why did we play well at times. And I think it all falls back to effort, keeping schemes simple and giving the kids a chance to play fast.
"Do I have all the answers? Heck no. And that's where you have to lean on guys who have been there and done that."
Former defensive coordinator Joe DeForest remains on staff as special teams and safeties coach, and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell is a former defensive coordinator at East Carolina.
Gibson coached defensive backs at West Virginia under Rich Rodriguez from 2001 to 2007. He also had assistant coaching stints under Rodriguez at Michigan and Arizona, and at Pittsburgh in 2011.