Marshall Thundering Herd football

Marshall Thundering Herd football
2018 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
Marshall Thundering Herd logo.svg
First season1895
Athletic directorMike Hamrick
Head coachDoc Holliday
9th season, 67–45 (.598)
StadiumJoan C. Edwards Stadium
(Capacity: 38,227)
FieldJames F. Edwards Field
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationHuntington, West Virginia
ConferenceConference USA
DivisionEast
All-time record574–533–48 (.518)
Bowl record11–3 (.786)
Claimed nat'l titlesDiv. I FCS: 2[1]
Conference titles13
Division titles8
RivalriesOhio (rivalry)
West Virginia (rivalry)
East Carolina (rivalry)
Consensus All-Americans44
ColorsKelly Green and White[2]
         
Fight songSons of Marshall
MascotMarco, an American Bison
Marching bandMarching Thunder
OutfitterHerdZone.com

The Marshall Thundering Herd football team is an intercollegiate varsity sports program of Marshall University. The team represents the university as a member of the Conference USA Eastern division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, playing at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Marshall plays at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which seats 38,227[3] and is expandable to 55,000. As of the end of the 2015 football season, Marshall has an impressive 148–26 overall record at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for a winning percentage of .851. The University of Alabama ranks second with an .825 winning percentage at Bryant–Denny Stadium. The stadium opened in 1991 as Marshall University Stadium with a crowd of 33,116 for a 24–23 win over New Hampshire. On September 10, 2010, the Thundering Herd played the in-state rival West Virginia Mountaineers in Huntington in front of a record crowd of 41,382. Joan C. Edwards Stadium is one of two Division I stadium named solely for a woman with South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium being the other. The playing field itself is named James F. Edwards Field after Mrs. Edwards husband, businessman and philanthropist James F. Edwards.

History

Early history (1895–1934)

Boyd Chambers, the coach who called the "Tower Play".

Boyd Chambers was Marshall's head football coach from 1909–1916. He is best known for calling the "Tower Play", where one receiver lifted another up on his shoulders to complete a pass, during the 1915 season.[4]

Tolley era (1968–1970)

The memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia to the victims of the Southern Airways Flight 932 crash.

Rick Tolley was Marshall's head football coach for two seasons, coming to Marshall from his post as defensive line coach for Wake Forest and posting records of 3–7 and 3–6 before being killed on November 14, 1970 in the infamous plane crash in which all 75 passengers, including 37 players, five coaches, administrators, family and friends (along with the Southern Airways five-person crew) were killed traveling home from a game against East Carolina.[5]

Jim Donnan era (1990–1995)

Led by head coach Jim Donnan, who came to Marshall from his post as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma,[6] Marshall won the Division I-AA national championship in 1992 over Youngstown State (31–28)[7] and was national runner-up in 1991, 1993 and 1995. Marshall set an I-AA record with five straight seasons making at least the semi-finals of the I-AA Playoffs from 1991–95 (and added one more in 1996). Donnan was named NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year twice during his tenure at Marshall and resigned after the 1995 season to accept the head football coach position at Georgia.[8]

Bob Pruett era (1996–2004)

Randy Moss, star wide receiver at Marshall under coach Bob Pruett

Bob Pruett left his post as defensive coordinator at Florida under Steve Spurrier to become head football coach at Marshall,[9] where he served for nine seasons from 1996 to 2004. During his tenure at Marshall, the Thundering Herd compiled a record of 94–23 (.803 winning percentage), featured two undefeated seasons, won six conference championships, won 5 of 7 bowl games, and captured the I-AA National Championship in 1996. Marshall moved to Division I-A and the Mid-American Conference in all sports in 1997. The 1996 team, with Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, John Wade, Chris Hanson, Eric Kresser, Doug Chapman and many other players who played professional football, was 15–0, had no game closer than a two touchdown win and was ranked No. 1 all-season. Marshall won the MAC title five of its eight seasons (1997-98-99-2000–2002) and were runners up in 2001 in the conference before moving to Conference USA in 2005. Since moving back to Division I-A, Marshall has finished in the Top 25 four times: 1999 (10th AP/10th coaches' poll), 2001 (21st coaches' poll), 2002 (24th AP/19th cocaches' poll), 2014 (23rd AP/22nd coaches' poll). Marshall fell to Ole Miss in the 1997 Motor City Bowl, 34–31,[10] but won the next three games in Michigan's Pontiac Silverdome, beating Louisville 48–29 in 1998,[11] beating No. 25 BYU 21–3 in 1999 to finish 13–0[11] and beating Cincinnati in 2000, 25–14.[11] Marshall and East Carolina matched-up in one of college football's greatest bowl games in 2001 at the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, a 64–61 double overtime win by the Herd over the Pirates of Conference USA. It is one of the highest scoring bowl games of all-time, and the Herd rallied from a 38–8 halftime hole behind Byron Leftwich's five touchdown passes.[11] Marshall would fall to the Bearcats in the 2004 Plains Capital Fort Worth Bowl at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium, 32–14,[11] in Bob Pruett's final game as head coach before his retirement.[12]

Mark Snyder era (2005–2009)

Marshall University vs. Cincinnati Bearcats 2008 (before game)

Mark Snyder came to his alma mater to become head football coach from his defensive coordinator position at Ohio State.[13] Snyder coached the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw, Marcus Fitzgerald and Cody Slate during his time as head coach at Marshall. Snyder's best season was a 6–6 2009 season, which turned out to be his last. He resigned after five seasons, that included only one bowl berth, the 2009 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.[14]

Doc Holliday era (2010–present)

On December 17, 2009, Marshall officially named Doc Holliday, an assistant coach at WVU under Bill Stewart, as the next head coach for the Thundering Herd football team.[15] Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said Holliday had signed a five-year contract and would be paid $600,000 per season.[16] Holliday, a WVU alum, almost defeated Stewart's Mountaineers in 2010, but an untimely fumble by freshman Tron Martinez led to the Herd blowing a 16-point lead in the games final minutes, breaking the hearts of Herd fans.[17] Holliday then led Marshall to a 10–4 season in 2013, capped with a victory in the Military Bowl. In the 2014 season he led the team to a 13–1 season, winning the school's first C-USA Championship and the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl against Northern Illinois 52–23.[18]

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