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WVU players advocate for Tony Gibson to be next head coach on Twitter

MORGANTOWN — 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!!!!” Long tweeted. “I can’t think of anyone else more deserving!”

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.

“WVU Football no need to look too far for another coach. The perfect man for the job is Tony Gibson,” Bigelow tweeted. “Nobody understands this team and what it means to be a mountaineer more than him. I’d still run through a wall for him!”

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

“I want Coach Gibson as my head coach,” defensive back Derrek Pitts said.

Defensive lineman Reese Donahue thanked Holgorsen for the last 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 WVU football and the rest of the state!” Donahue tweeted. “Tony Gibson knows what this program means to the state and all of its people to play for and watch the ole Blue and Gold! #MountaineerMentaility”

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.

“Coach Tony Gibson BLEEDS West Virginia and WVU football through and through,” tweeted Chestnut, who played at WVU from 2012-’15. “A man that has the respect. A great recruiter, a great father, husband, mentor etc… [Shane Lyons], we don’t need to look too far for our next HC #hireGibby.”

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 want coach Gibson as my head coach!” Smith tweeted.

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.