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New West Virginia DC Vic Koenning values ‘contact-seekers’ |

New West Virginia DC Vic Koenning values ‘contact-seekers’

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:30 a.m
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen embraces West Virgina Associate Head Coach (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers) Tony Gibson after beating Baylor on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia won 24-21.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Vic Koenning said his philosophy on finding good football players is simple.

“You have to be able to bend your knees,” he said. “You have to be able to have balance. You have to be able to tackle, and if you’re a defensive back, you have to be able to play the ball.

“And you can’t be a coward.”

Koenning, who was named Thursday as West Virginia’s defensive coordinator under Neal Brown, knows there are three types of players.

“There are ones that seek contact,” he said. “Ones that tolerate contact and ones who avoid contact.

“You can’t do with any avoiders. Tolerate? We can kind of shame you into it. We want seekers.

“We don’t need guys who have dead legs and just take up space. We call those matter guys, who just take up molecules.”

Koenning, 58, will replace Tony Gibson, a native West Virginian who had been a Mountaineers assistant since 2013 after spending seven seasons there from 2001-07.

“Tony is moving on,” WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said, refuting reports there might have been an administrative position for Gibson at the school. “Tony wants to coach football. He’s very good at it.”

Koenning was Brown’s defensive coordinator at Troy for the past four seasons, but he also held the same position at four Power 5 schools: Clemson, Illinois, Kansas State and North Carolina. He was head coach at Wyoming from 2000-02, compiling a 5-29 record.

At the outset of his coaching career, Koenning was a graduate assistant at Memphis State under Charlie Bailey, who spent the 1982 season on Foge Fazio’s staff at Pitt.

Koenning said Bailey taught him an important lesson.

“You get your bad players to use up all your blockers so your good players can make plays,” he said. “There’s a lot of truth to that.”

Koenning said it didn’t take him long to accept Brown’s offer, even though some people thought he might be a candidate to replace Brown at Troy.

“I don’t think I was ever a serious candidate,” he said. “Maybe in my mind and maybe in some of the minds of the people in town and some of the boosters and trustees, but not in the athletic director’s.

“I did think the head coaching job would be pretty cool, but my wife, she thought it probably wasn’t the best thing.”

Koenning said he’s not even thinking about the Troy job.

“That’s like throwing a log out in that river over there,” he said, pointing in the general direction of the Monongahela River. “It’s going to be down river pretty quick. That one’s already down river.”

Troy will hire former Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, according to multiple reports.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | WVU
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