MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — To put it mildly, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson is a long shot to become West Virginia’s next head coach. WVU is already kicking off a national search for Dana Holgorsen’s replacement that will place a priority on candidates with head coaching experience, and Gibson comes up empty in that regard.

But whomever that candidate may be, it looks like one of their first orders of business will be mollifying players on Gibson’s defense. Several current and former Mountaineers took to social media Tuesday morning and afternoon advocating for Gibson’s promotion in the wake of reports that Holgorsen is leaving for Houston after eight seasons at West Virginia.

Among the most prominent voices is that of linebacker David Long, the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year.

Long’s demands may have carried more volume if he were still on the ledge about returning to West Virginia next season, but the redshirt junior declared for the NFL Draft on Sunday.

Defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow only played one season for West Virginia after transferring from USC, but that was enough to convince him that Gibson is the man for the job.

Long and Bigelow will be gone next year, but several Mountaineers who are poised to return echoed their sentiments.

Defensive lineman Reese Donahue thanked Holgorsen for the past three years of his career while pointing to native son Gibson’s West Virginia ties as a reason that he’s the right man for the job.

Former players are also advocating for Gibson’s promotion.

Current Chargers linebacker Kyzir White, current Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski and current free agents Shaq Petteway and Terrell Chestnut all put themselves firmly in Gibson’s camp.

Incoming players are also calling for Gibson’s promotion. Signees Kerry Martin, Jalen Thornton and Tykee Smith all advocated for Gibson. Notably, Martin is an early enrollee who is scheduled to start attending classes next week despite possibly not having a head coach in place.

No matter how deafening it grows, the defensive chorus will be hard-pressed to make enough noise to actually sway the WVU administration. However, the degree to which his candidacy is being supported speaks volumes about how highly regarded Gibson is to his players.

If West Virginia makes an outside hire, as is expected, the next head coach will be walking into locker room that is staunchly pro-Gibson. Should that coach bring in his own defensive coordinator, it’s evident that some degree of damage control will be needed to keep everyone on board.

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