The week long rumor is now reality as Dana Holgorsen has left West Virginia to become the new head coach at Houston.
Familiarity with the Houston region and the fact that he received a five-year, $20 million contract were the biggest factors in him leaving Morgantown. This now makes Holgorsen the highest-paid coach in Group of 5 coaching history. That’s a biggest rise in the Cougars coaching budget as they were paying Major Applewhite “just” $1.75 million last year.
The question now is who will West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons target to be the Mountaineers next coach?
The names that reportedly are high on the list are Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, Troy’s Neal Brown, Memphis’ Mike Norvell, Toledo’s Jason Candle and Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson.
If you ask poll the current West Virginia players, they’ll bring up another name and that’s current defensive coordinator and associate head coach Tony Gibson.
Gibson, who worked at Pitt during the 2011 season in between stints at West Virginia, has recruited Western Pennsylvania since returning to Morgantown in 2013. He’s done a good job, too. A glance around the Mountaineers’ roster will reveal a group loaded with former WPIAL players: S Dravon Askew-Henry (Aliquippa), TE TJ Banks (East Allegheny), OL Jacob Buccigrossi (North Hills), DL James Gmiter (Bethel Park), RB TJ Kpan (Peters Twp), S Kwantel Raines, FB/TE Logan Thimons (Freeport), DL Brenon Thrift (Gateway) and S Kenny Robinson (Imani Christian Academy).
The former Pitt pass-game defensive coordinator under Todd Graham has received a ton of support on social media from former and current West Virginia players who want the job to stay in-house.
Here’s a sampling of what’s been said on Twitter about Gibson starting with former WPIAL star and current West Virginia linebacker Kenny Robinson.
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
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
Nobody better for the job.. Gibby a Real one!!! Gave me the opportunity I deserved and changed my life! ❗️ https://t.co/4RfINNlh2k
— Shaq Petteway ❗️ (@Shaqpett_36) 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
I want coach Gibson as my head coach🤔
— DerrekQuadonPittsJr. (@LabelMeAsQuadon) January 1, 2019
— Dayron Wilson (@Dayday_cheadat) January 1, 2019