West Virginia Football: Potential Replacements for Keith Patterson at DC
West Virginia lost another defensive coordinator last week when Arizona State announced that Keith Patterson would become the Sun Devils' defensive coordinator, linebackers and defensive special teams coach.
Assuming head coach Dana Holgorsen doesn't promote special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, who led the defense in 2012, the Mountaineers will be on their fourth new face at defensive coordinator in as many years.
That's not ideal for any team, and Holgorsen has to assess his hiring options once again.
And really, Holgorsen needs to get this right. Coming off a 4-8 season, there's going to be a lot of chatter about his job security heading into next year. West Virginia has trended downward since Holgorsen took over in 2011, so this season will have to be a rebound of sorts.
Defense will have to be a part of that. So who does Holgorsen look to for help?
West Virginia safeties coach Tony Gibson is a candidate to replace Patterson, according to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com.
Gibson's name also emerged Friday's edition of B/R's Big 12 mailbag, so he's being floated out there as a possibility.
Gibson is well-liked within the program and previously served as an assistant in Morgantown from 2001-07. However, his play-calling duties sit a little further down his resume. The last time Gibson served as a defensive coordinator was from 1999-00 at West Virginia Tech.
That would make him a risky hire, but Holgorsen is apparently OK with promoting from within the program.
Tom Bradley was a longtime assistant and defensive coordinator at Penn State. He spent his entire coaching career in Happy Valley.
Bradley briefly served as the Nittany Lions' interim coach in 2011 after Joe Paterno was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. However, Bradley was not asked to succeed Paterno and was not retained by new head coach Bill O'Brien.
Bradley has been working as an analyst for CBS Sports, but he could re-enter the coaching ranks. He's a great football mind who did a nice job at Penn State. Bradley's price tag is, though, could be a major snag if Holgorsen wishes to extend an offer.
It's trendy to scoff at Greg Robinson, but he actually did a decent job as Texas' defensive coordinator in 2013 under difficult circumstances.
Robinson replaced Manny Diaz, who was fired by then-head coach Mack Brown following a 40-21 loss to BYU in Week 2. Though Robinson's first game as a DC with the Horns was disastrous—a 44-23 loss to Ole Miss—the defense showed improvement throughout the season.
Texas' 30-7 loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl—the Ducks' offense scored just 16 points—was hardly Robinson's fault.
Robinson recently interviewed with San Jose State to be the Spartans' defensive coordinator and could be a front-runner, according to Pete Roussel at Coachingsearch.com.
-- UPDATE --
Coachingsearch.com reports that Robinson will be the new DC at San Jose State. The school has not yet confirmed the report.
-- END UPDATE --
Robinson had rough stints at Syracuse and Michigan, but his 2013 effort with Texas should at least merit a look.
Florida State defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri doesn't have much defensive coordinator experience. Like Gibson, that would make Sunseri a bit of a risk for Holgorsen.
That said, Sunseri has a lot of experience under Alabama coach Nick Saban. In 2013, Sunseri coached defensive ends for the BCS National Championship-winning Florida State Seminoles.
Sunseri's one-year stint as Tennessee's defensive coordinator was a disaster. The Vols went 5-7 and defense ranked 110th nationally in total defense. But Sunseri had a lot more to work with at Florida State, which ranked 19th in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss.
With Charles Kelly being promoted to Florida State's defensive coordinator, Sunseri may like an opportunity to call a defense somewhere else.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.
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