Bradley Hired as Defensive Coordinator

Feb. 23 -- Jim Mora hires the former Penn State coach Tom Bradley to head up his defense...

Former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley has been hired as UCLA's new defensive coordinator, according to sources.

BRO originally broke the story about Bradley, and you can get all of his background information in that original story here.

We have since spoken to Mark Brennan, the publisher of the Penn State site, and Scout's West Virginia publisher, Kevin Kinder.


Tom is an old-school guy. He is not a screamer, but he is a strong motivator that has a ton of football knowledge. He doesn't talk a lot about the past, and in our attempts to get him to talk about Penn State, he was reticent. Understandably so, but he didn't want the focus to be on him.

I think he helped West Virginia's defense a lot in his year here. WVU had a new coordinator in Tony Gibson, and they collaborated well together. He coached the DL here, which wasn't his forte, but I think he did a good job.

He's not a rah-rah recruiter, but was well known in Pennsylvania and New Jersey obviously. WVU didn't do a lot in Pennsylvania this year, but I think he can build relationships with coaches well. The challenge will be to do so in an area that's totally new to him. Can he do that? Sure. But how quickly is the question.

He helped WVU's defense get better this year, and I think he is the kind of coach that can be successful wherever he goes and in whatever scheme. He ran a 4-3 with a "hero" safety at Penn State, and he ran a 3-3 stack with Tony Gibson (WVU coordinator).


Bradley is a super-intelligent guy. He’s very smart, and I’m not saying that lightly. He’s a great defensive mind.

When he was at Penn State, the defense was extremely successful. They weren’t overly aggressive at the time, not a lot of flash, but they were consistently among the best in the Big Ten in that era. It was a different time, and the conference demanded a different kind of defense, and he knows defenses really well, so I don’t think he’d have any problems with a 3-4 defense more suited to defend a spread. He’s very capable of doing whatever he needs to do with the talent at hand. Whatever talent is there, whatever defense the head coach wants to run, Tom will make it work.

He couldn’t run a more aggressive defense when he was here because of what was dictated to him and because Penn State just didn’t have elite defensive backs. It worked because they didn’t face very many good quarterbacks in the Big Ten at the time.

One of the cool things about him is that, during his career, he coached the defensive line, linebackers and secondary, so he knows every position.

Personally, he’s a great guy. He grew up in Pennsylvania, and he’s one of those hard-nosed western Pennsylvania guys. He was a walk-on at Penn State and ended up captain of the special teams. He got the nickname Scrap Iron, and since then everyone has called him Scrap. It’s what everyone calls him.

He’s a very personable guy. His players love him and swear by him. So that made him a great recruiter. He owned western Pennsyvania in recruiting, and that was back in the time when there was a lot of talent coming out of the region. He relates well to players and recruits. I don’t think UCLA should worry about him being a good recruiter. Guys like Lavar Arrington and Brandon Short, these guys considered him a father figure, and still do. Bradley had a rep, too, for finding hidden gems, like Shane Conlan. Conlan was from the Buffalo area, and no one was recruiting him. Bradley watched him at a basketball game and convinced Joe Paterno to take him. Conlan is arguably the best player in Penn State history, winning a national championship and being a two-time All-American.

When it comes to what happened at Penn State, Bradley was collateral damage, as were a lot of people. Being interim head coach, too, created another unique situation for him, and it made it difficult for Bill O’Brien to hire him on his staff after that. Bradley was dealt such a difficult hand. He basically stayed at Penn State for such a long time with the idea that he’d be the top candidate for the head coaching job when Paterno left.

Bradley’s a great guy, one who players love, and a great coach.

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