By Cam Huffman
In its search for a new defensive assistant, West Virginia’s football team has apparently turned to a familiar face.
Although nothing has been made official, multiple media outlets have reported that Boone County native Tony Gibson will be hired to fill one of the two open spots on head coach Dana Holgorsen’s defensive staff.
Holgorsen fired cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts at the conclusion of the regular season and then announced last week that Steve Dunlap — who was an assistant under Don Nehlen, Bill Stewart and Holgorsen — would not return, either.
The news of the Gibson hire has not been well received by many Mountaineer fans.
The Van High School graduate played for former Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez at Glenville State before becoming a part of the WVU staff under Rodriguez from 2001 until 2007.
Gibson left for Michigan with Rodriguez before the Fiesta Bowl in 2007, and he spent three years with the Wolverines.
When Rodriguez was fired following the 2010 season, Gibson spent one year as the secondary/pass defense coordinator at Pitt under head coach Todd Graham.
It was there that Gibson worked on the same staff as current WVU assistant Keith Patterson, who was promoted to become the Mountaineers’ defensive coordinator after the regular season.
Gibson spent just one year at Pitt before rejoining Rodriguez in Arizona for the 2012 season.
Despite the fans’ rumblings — partly a result of his loyalty to Rodriguez — Gibson is widely considered a strong recruiter, especially in Western Pennsylvania.
Gibson’s role at WVU is still unknown. Holgorsen will have to fill the other open position before defining the coaches’ specific jobs.
According to reports, WVU’s formal background check is all that stands in the way of making the Gibson hire official.
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It appears as though WVU quarterback Geno Smith has decided to forgo an opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl. Smith posted a message on his Twitter account Tuesday that read, “Thanks to the Senior Bowl for the invite, but for the record I will not be participating. Once again thanks to the Senior Bowl committee.”
Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley also declined an invitation. North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson are the quarterbacks who have accepted invitations.
Marshall’s Aaron Dobson will participate as a wide receiver.
Most NFL evaluators have listed Barkley, Smith and Glennon as the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
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Two of WVU’s social media platforms were recently listed in the top 25 on the list of most popular Twitter and YouTube sites among college sports programs.
Oklahoma director of digital media Jason Matheson compiled the list, which saw WVU’s Twitter site, WVUsportsBuzz, rank 22nd with 27,855 followers and its YouTube site come in 17th with 3,635.
WVU’s Facebook page Proud to Be A Mountaineer, ranked outside the top 25 with 185,333 likes.
The No. 1 college Facebook page belonged to Ohio State with 1.3 million likes. Nebraska was tops on Twitter with 77,234 followers, and Oregon led the YouTube list with 9,869 subscribers.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.