Tom Bradley Brings Intelligence, Personality to Mountaineer Football
Matt Hauswirth, MORGANTOWN -
Tom Bradley’s track record indicates Penn State Football is his life. But his lifetime dream of being a Nittany Lion took a drastic turn in 2012.
Bradley was the product of a major change – but it wasn’t just any ordinary coaching change.
When long-time Nittany Lions Head Coach Joe Paterno was fired as a result of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, Bradley was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach.
But that was short-lived following the hiring of Bill O’Brien, which in turn brought in his own coaching staff, resulting in Bradley’s dismissal from HappyValley.
After a one-year stop in the television industry as a CBS Sports Network college football analyst, Bradley now finds himself back in the coaching ranks – and it just so happens to be in Morgantown with the West Virginia Mountaineers.
WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen announced the hiring of Tom Bradley as a Senior Associate Head Coach and defensive line coach back in February.
“I think the way that the players gravitated to you – I think the coaches and the way that they have the good give and take here – I’m used to that,” Bradley said, referring to what lured him to WVU. “They’ve got a good camaraderie going here between the players, coaches, and strength staff, and that’s very impressive. I’m used to being around that type of environment.”
The environment Bradley is referring to is a rather good one. He coached a variety of positions at PennState for a total of 33 years. During that time, he served as an assistant on two National Championship teams, to go with coaching in 26 bowl games.
In other words, success came natural while at PennState. Although his days in HappyValley are no more, he’s thankful to have another crack at college football.
“It’s football,” Bradley declared. “Football is football. I’m excited to be back out here coaching and enjoying the players. Even the last couple of years, being around the Steelers and doing the stuff for Clear Channel, along with working for CBS – I was around teams and stuff. That was a great opportunity because when you got out there you got to talk to other coaches and sat down – and they’re going to give you everything because you’re with the media and they want to sound smart. So you can really pick their brain and learn a lot. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to spend time and go to those different places.”
The addition of Bradley to the WVU coaching staff has already began to marinate amongst the players. According to them, his hiring has paid major dividends.
“He’s got this tough edge mentality for the defensive line,” WVU senior cornerback Ishmael Banks said. “I’ve seen hard work. That’s what I’ve seen – tough edge and hard work. So I think he’s going to be crazy good.”
“[He’s brought] just knowledge,” Mountaineers senior linebacker Jared Barber said. “I mean, you know the guy had been at PennState for 30-plus years. He had great defenses and great players. So I just pick his brain. We hear him talk about certain things. He can give you little stuff that you usually wouldn’t hear because he’s been around the game for so long.”
Although Bradley’s main focus will be on the defensive line, he admitted that the entire defense will remain under his watchful eye.
“We’re trying to develop depth,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good mix right now. I think the number one thing is that we have to stay healthy. We’ll get people better. We’ll get some guys playing experience. We’ll get some guys with confidence. I think if we can get some confidence then we can go from there.”
His knowledge and intelligence for the game of football is rather evident after a brief conversation with him. But maybe the most telling attribute that Bradley occupies is the ability to communicate, demonstrating his personality in the process.
His charisma was on full display during Thursday’s interviews.
“You guys didn’t mention that I also worked at CBS, too,” Bradley said, garnering an array of laughs from the surrounding media. “I was doing what you guys are doing last year. So I’ve got that in my background, too. I’ve got my CBS blazer if you want me to wear it someday. It’s impressive, you know? If you ever need a Halloween costume then let me know. I’ve got it.”
The competence for coaching is undoubtedly still present with Tom Bradley. His lighthearted and playful personality cannot be confused for his hardcore coaching interior, helping build young men into Division-I college football players.
Perhaps that is exactly what the West Virginia football program is in need of – someone with the football expertise while providing a laugh every now and then to help take the edge off.
Tom Bradley may bleed blue and white, but as of right now, he has invested all of his time into the old gold and blue. Holgorsen’s inclusion of Bradley could very well serve as the missing piece to the puzzle for a program with something to prove in 2014.