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.
Come on now, y’all know the right guy for the job is already in the building!!!! I can’t think of anyone else more deserving! @TonyGibsonWVU let’s get the ball rolling ‼️‼️‼️
— Day✖️2 (@David__Long) January 1, 2019
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.
@WVUfootball no need to look too far for another coach. The perfect man for the job is @TonyGibsonWVU ‼️ Nobody understands this team and what it means to be a mountaineer more than him. I’d still run through a wall for him!
— Kenny Bigelow (@_mcmxcv__) January 1, 2019
Long and Bigelow will be gone next year, but several Mountaineers who are poised to return echoed their sentiments.
— Dante Stills (@DanteStills) January 1, 2019
We need @TonyGibsonWVU as the head coach ‼️‼️‼️
— Kenny Robinson (@KR5__) January 1, 2019
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.
As a West Virginia boy it means more to us than the world to represent @WVUfootball and the rest of the state! @TonyGibsonWVU knows what this program means to the state and all of its people to play for and watch the ole Blue and Gold! #MountaineerMentaility
— Reese (@Reese_Donahue46) January 1, 2019
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.
— Nick Kwiatkoski (@nkwiatkoski27) January 1, 2019
It’s only right coach @TonyGibsonWVU is the next head coach at WVU! The best to ever do it! Would run through a brick wall for him. Every player respects him and he brings the most out of all of us! Let’s do the right thing. Gibby deserves it. 💯
— Kyzir (@KyzirWhite8) January 1, 2019
Coach @TonyGibsonWVU BLEEDS West Virginia and @WVUfootball through and through. A man that has the respect. A great recruiter, A great father, husband, mentor etc. @WVUADLyons @WVUfootball We don’t need to look too far for our next HC #hireGibby
— Terrell Chestnut (@TChestnut) January 1, 2019
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.
I got my guys 💯 https://t.co/LNYGUR82RR
— Jalen Thornton (@JalenThornton52) January 1, 2019
I want coach Gibson as my head coach!!🙏🏾
— 2k (@TykSmith) January 1, 2019
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.