The rumors really didn’t gain steam, but they were floating out there.
Tony Gibson shot them down rather quickly.
It was rumored that West Virginia’s defensive coordinator was a finalist for the open head coaching job at Georgia State. While that may have been true, Gibson’s level of interest in the position was rather low.
The “DAWGS” reference isn’t to suggest that Gibson is leaving WVU to coach the Georgia Bulldogs, either. He is more than happy to be a Mountaineer.
Gibson has helped build the West Virginia defense into one of the best in the Big 12. The Mountaineers were No. 2 in the conference in scoring defense this season, giving up 23.2 points per game. In total defense, they were also second surrendering just 386.2 yards per game.
WVU is also in the Top 5 on the defensive side in pass defense efficiency (third), interceptions (first), opponents first downs (first) and turnover margin (second).
The Mountaineers were 56th in total defense in the country in 2014, a better mark than the program has been used to since joining the Big 12 in 2012. They were also No. 3 nationally in third down defense, No. 12 in fourth down defense and No. 15 in holding opponents to three-and-outs.
Gibson has been the defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, while also coaching the linebackers.
These recent rumors, whether they had legs or not, are nothing new to Gibson. He was being courted last year for open jobs and decided to stay with the Mountaineers. In order to show his commitment to West Virginia, Gibson inked a three-year contract with the university around this time last December.
Not only has Gibson helped resurrect the defense, he is a personal testament to the foundation of the WVU program. Dana Holgorsen, an Iowa native, has tried to relay to his team the importance of playing for the Mountain State. Even as an outsider, Holgorsen has implemented new traditions like the Mountaineer Mantrip, the touching of the coal, the carrying of the state flag and a remodeled locker room.
Gibson, a Van, W.Va. native, is able to connect with many fans who travel across the state to come to Morgantown for home games. He is one of two West Virginia natives (the other is offensive line coach Ron Crook from Parkersburg) on the WVU coaching staff.
The pride shown in the program is a big plus for Gibson. It helps in his recruiting pitch, too. When he was an assistant under former head coach Rich Rodriguez from 2001-07, Gibson served as the recruiting coordinator. When he returned to the Mountaineers in 2013, he was the safeties coach. Then and now, Gibson heavily recruits the Western Pennsylvania region.
He played a big part in landing defensive back Dravon Askew-Henry from powerhouse Aliquippa High School.
"“It seemed like when I talked to him, a whole bunch of stress came off my shoulders,” Henry said of Gibson. “It felt like home talking with him. I didn’t have that feeling at Pitt.”"
Gibson’s recent contract at WVU makes him the fourth-highest paid assistant coach in the Big 12. His $650,000 salary is about 43-percent of the assistant coaching staff budget.
He is worth every penny.