Bradley will make impact
For West Virginia football fans, it is impossible not to be excited about the addition of Tom Bradley to the Mountaineer football coaching staff.
On a personal level, as someone who worked with Bradley for over 17 years, I can tell you that it is also impossible not to like Tom Bradley.
The first thing you should know is that Bradley was incredibly beloved at Penn State. Not popular. Not well-liked. He was beloved.
Bradley was woven deeply into the fabric and personality of Penn State football and had been since he first stepped foot on campus as a player in 1975. He loved Penn State University, and it loved him back. When he stepped foot on campus in 1975, he didn’t leave for almost 40 years.
Also, you should also know that in all the years I worked with him, I don’t think I ever called him “Tom.” He was always “Scrap.”
It was the shortened version of Scrap Iron.
Scrap came to Penn State in the fall of 1975, out of Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown. McCort is a small, private, Catholic school that also produced former Penn State football All-Americans Steve Smear and Jack Ham.
His dad played basketball at Pitt. His brother , Jim, played football at Penn State and has been a longtime team surgeon with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Scrap came to Penn State as a defensive back, but it was on special teams that the undersized and tenacious Bradley made his mark. He became the leader of Penn State’s special teams from 1975-78 and fans began calling that group “The Scrap Pack.”
By the way, during the years that Bradley played, Penn State beat West Virginia 39-0 (1975), 33-0 (1976), 49-28 (1977) and 49-21 (1978).
Penn State has a history of outstanding, longtime assistant coaches who turned down head coaching jobs to remain in State College. Names such as Jim O’Hora, J.T. White, Bob Phillips, Sever Toretti, and Fran Ganter were all longtime assistants regarded as pillars of the Nittany Lion program.
Tom Bradley, Penn State’s interim head coach for four games following Joe Paterno’s dismissal at the end of the 2011 season, should also be included on that list. Ganter turned down Michigan State in 1994 and Bob Phillips actually was the first coach offered the Marshall job after the plane crash in 1970.
Is Bradley an outstanding defensive football coach? Well, the numbers can tell you that. From 2004-2011, his Penn State defensive units were third in the nation in scoring defense and fifth in total defense. His 2009 defense was ranked in the top 15 in six categories.
He was the AP Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2005 and the Rivals.com defensive coordinator of the year in 2008.
Yes, the man can coach.
He can also recruit. He patrolled western Pennsylvania for Penn State for many years and was very popular with the high school coaches there. Among his recruits were Shane Conlan, LaVar Arrington, Brandon Short, Sean Lee and Paul Posluszny.
He is a good guy, a very good guy, who is also incredibly loyal as evidenced by the fact he coached at one school from 1978-2012.
He is personable, funny and engaging. He also has a very distinctive bounce and purposeful walk to him, one that fits a man of his drive and determination. He is also a longtime recruiting friend of former WVU assistant, now Marshall head coach Doc Holliday.
Is he a genius? A miracle worker? A savior to help Tony Gibson fix the Mountaineers defensive woes?
Well, football, is still a personnel driven game. It is tough to beat better players with lesser players.
But WVU’s football staff is better today better than it was before Bradley was hired in the offseason. Absolutely.
Tom “Scrap” Bradley is a true professional who loves football and does things the right way. It is great to see him back in the profession.