There is an old joke that goes something like this:
“A man died and went to heaven. As St. Peter was showing him around they saw the streets of gold, the gates of pearl and all of the mansions that were scattered all around.
In the middle of the tour the man looks at St. Peter and says “What is that giant brick wall for?”
St. Peter says “That’s where we have to keep all of the West Virginians or they would all go home every weekend.”
While that joke may be played-out and a little bit corny, I think it does sum up how most West Virginians feel. Without doing a psychological deep-dive on the mental make-up of one who marches to the beat of Those West Virginia Hills or even Simple Gifts, if you are from West Virginia you know exactly what I’m talking about.
West Virginia is home and a place where we look for an excuse, any excuse, to visit as often as possible.
This weekend we have a unique chance to welcome back one of our own. A true Mountaineer who without a doubt is looking forward to coming back to to his Almost Heaven home.
It will be a bittersweet return for Tony Gibson because all accounts point to him passionately wanting to retain his West Virginia drivers license and stay in Morgantown. When Dana Holgorsen tucked his tail and amicably ran to Houston, Gibson made it clear to the administration he wanted to lead the program going forward. He even had current and former players advocating for him. and appeared to be one of the three finalists for the job.
The rest of course is history and Neal Brown was chosen for the gig, leaving Tony Gibson the odd-man-out.
The unusual twist to this story is that Gibson landed as the Co-defensive coordinator at NC State. Finding a new job is not that unusual but finding a job with a Power 5, ACC school that happens to travel to Morgantown during his first year on the job, is unusual.
While he won’t be introduced or there won’t be videos, ceremony or fan-fare, Gibson deserves to be welcomed as a hero from every Mountaineer he comes in contact with on his return trip to WVU.
Gibson was a big part of the Mountaineer success during the Rich Rodriguez as a defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He then served a second stint under Dana Holgorsen serving one year as safeties coach and then five years as the defensive coordinator for the Mountaineers.
During that time Gibson had several distinguished defenses and was known as a great recruiter.
Ultimately, Gibson will be wearing red and white on Saturday, but he is a Mountaineer by birth and would’ve stayed a Mountaineer by choice if afforded the opportunity. When he returns to Morgantown this week and Mylan Puskar Stadium on Saturday, Coach Gibson needs to be treated like one of the family and welcomed back with open arms.