Marshall Thundering Herd football

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Marshall Thundering Herd football
2017 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
Marshall Thundering Herd logo.svg
First season 1895
Athletic director Mike Hamrick
Head coach Doc Holliday
8th year, 53–37 (.589)
Stadium Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Field James F. Edwards Field
Seating capacity 38,227
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Huntington, West Virginia, U.S.
Conference C-USA
Division East
All-time record 574–532–48 (.518)
Bowl record 10–3 (.769)
Claimed nat'l titles Div. I FCS: 2[1]
Conference titles 13
Division titles 8
Consensus All-Americans 44
Colors Kelly Green and White[2]
Fight song Sons of Marshall
Mascot Marco, an American Bison
Marching band Marching Thunder
Outfitter Nike
Rivals Ohio Bobcats
East Carolina Pirates

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 Division I 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.


Early history (1895–1934)[edit]

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

Marshall first fielded a football team in 1895. The team didn't have a coach that year or from 1897–1901. The first coach in Marshall football history was George Ford from 1902–1903.

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

Arch Reilly led the Herd to an undefeated 8-0 record in his only season as Marshall's head coach in 1919.

Charles Tallman would lead the Thundering Herd from 1925-1928, compiling a 22-9-7 record before moving on to coach West Virginia. Tallman's Thundering Herd won conference championships in 1925 and 1928 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a league Marshall helped to found in 1924. The WVIAC existed until 1999's 75th anniversary, but was then supplanted by most Division II colleges in the state who joined the new Mountain East Conference, a league based on bringing football schools together.

Tallman was succeeded by former Michigan All-American John Maulbetsch, who posted an 8-8-2 record in his two years (1929-1930).

Tom Dandelet led the Thundering Herd from 1931-1934, compiling a record of 18-16-2. Dandelet's 1931 team won the final conference championship in the WVIAC.

Cam Henderson era (1935–1949)[edit]

Coach Henderson

Cam Henderson led the Marshall Thundering Herd for a total of twelve seasons (Marshall didn't field a football team from 1943-1945 due to World War II) and posted 69 wins. Henderson coached the likes of Jackie Hunt - who set a Marshall and National record with 27 touchdowns in 10 games, not broken nationally until Lydell Mitchell had 28 TDs in 1971 (12 games) and until Randy Moss had 29 touchdowns in 1996 in 15 games - Frank Gatski (Marshall's only NFL HOF member, who played for 11 championships in 12 years of pro football, winning eight) and Bill Smith (Marshall's first All-American on the AP "Little" (small colleges) All-American teams) during his time at Marshall. Henderson's teams were tough and physical and liked to run the football. Henderson's 1947 Herd was 9-2, then received a bowl bid from the second Tangerine Bowl to face Catawba College (the winner of the first bowl game in Orlando, Fla.). Henderson's 1946-47 basketball team won the NAIA National Championship with a 32-5 club, and earned a bid to the Helm's Foundation's Los Angeles Invitational, so Henderson took the team by train to Denver, flew into LA and also won that tournament. His top assistant, Roy Straight, took the football team minus the two starting ends who went with Henderson, and after a four-day bus trip to Orlando, fell in the Tangerine Bowl on Jan. 1, 1948, 7-0 to Catawba, despite out-gaining and having more first downs. In fact, the Marshall defense was so brilliant, converted quarterback Donnie Gibson won the MVP Award for the game for his play at end in place of future 4X NFL All-Pro Norman "Wildman" Willey, who had a career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1950–57 and set a record (unofficial) with 17 sacks against the New York Giants. After a 6-4 1949 season, Henderson resigned as head football coach but continued to lead Marshall's basketball program until 1954-55. Henderson's Buckeye Conference Championship in 1937 would be the Herd's last until 1988, and his 9-0-1 team record that year was the only other undefeated season between 1919 and 1996, and is one of eight in MU history.

Pete Pederson era (1950–1952)[edit]

Coach Pete Pederson, who replace Cam Henderson as football coach (while Henderson continued to coach basketball until 1955) tried to take the Herd's wing-T offense and use the NFL-popular T-Formation, but he only had one winning season, going 5-4-1 in 1951 with many players left by Henderson. The Herd was mostly mediocre during this time period, winning no conference championships, going 2-8 in 1950 and 2-7-2 in 1952 before Pederson was let go. Home attendance was up and down. During this time, Marshall joined the Ohio Valley Conference (1948), but left the OVC after the 1952 season to join the Mid-American Conference in 1953, in which Marshall competed in until 1968. Herb Royer was hired in 1953, a former running back for Henderson on the 1937 Buckeye Conference Championship, and he came to Marshall after leading West Virginia Tech to a WVIAC title and successes in the high school ranks in W.Va. Top players for the Pederson era included Bob Sang, Floyd Davis, Ed Prelaz, Len Hellyer, Oggie Thomas, Jim Swierczek, Kenneth Wheeler, Frank Mazza, John Vaglienti, Milan Zban, Albie Maier, John Chamara and Bill Zban.

Herb Royer era (1953-1957)[edit]

Herb Royer, a former honorable mention AP "Little" All-American for Cam Henderson in 1937 for the Buckeye Conference champs, took over in 1953, going 2-5-2 in the transition year into the Mid-American Conference. Royer, who also played in a 1938 College All-Stars vs. the NFL Philadelphia Eagles, got the Herd to 4-5 in 1954, slipped back to 3-6 in 1955 and 1956, but were 6-3 in 1957 and finished a Herd best second in the MAC (also happened in 1964 for Coach Charlie Snyder. Royer asked for upgrades following the 1957 season, but Marshall was always underfunded. When the administration did not provide additional funding for the program, Royer followed up on a preseason promise to resign if no dollars could be found for football, moving to California to teach and coach for the next two decades. Top players under Royer included Henry Hinte, Albie Maier, Bill Harris, Bob McCollins, Jim Simpson, Herb Hess, Vernon Howell, Sonny Sirianni, Len Hellyer, Bill Zban, Bob Waggoner, Jim Maddox, Cagel Curtis, Dick Jackson, George Templin, Bob "Gunnar" Miller, Ray Dunlap, Bob Wilson, and Roy Gaines, the first African-American to letter for the Herd. He, Howard Barrett (left the program in 1956) and Ray Crisp (broken leg prevented his playing varsity football joined the Herd junior varsity football program in 1955 (a year after Henderson recruited Hal Greer to the Herd basketball team, the first multi-year letter winner among African-American players south of the Mason-Dixon line, in W.Va. and at Marshall). Goines lettered for the Herd in 1956 and 1957 at defensive back. By 1960, tackle Wilson Lathan became Marshall's first African-American captain, recruited by Royer in 1957. Royer was 21-31-2 in his five years.

Charlie Snyder era (1958-1967)[edit]

Charlie Snyder became the Marshall coach when Herb Royer resigned after the 1958 season. His first Marshall team dropped to 1-8 in 1959, moved to up 2-7-1 in back-to-back years in 1960 and 1961, improving to 4-6 for the 1962 season (but still 0-5 in the MAC). Snyder (28-58-3) posted a 5-4-1 record in 1963, 3-2-1 in the MAC (second most wins in league except the 1957 4-2 mark). In 1964, Snyder posted the first back-to-back winning seasons since 1940 and 1941, going 7-3 (most wins since Snyder was a senior and capitain of the Tangerine Bowl team in 1947), and Marshall was second in the MAC for the second and last time in the 1960 with a 4-2 mark (tying the '57 team's high-water mark). But the underfunding of football at Marshall really began to hurt the program in 1965, when two-platoon football became the new rule for NCAA teams, although Snyder's 1965 team opened the season 4-0, lost five in a row after quarterback Howie Lee Miller broke his leg against the Quantico Marins in game four but won the final game with long-time rival Ohio University (playing the Bobcats since 1905) to finish 5-5. Snyder slipped to 2-8 in 1966 and bottomed out at 0-10 in 1967 and was relieved. Top players included Bob Maxell, Roger Jefferson, Zeke Myers, Everette Vance, Ralph May, Bill Winter, Jim Cure, Bobby Pruett, Howard Miller, Tom Good, Andy Socha, Dennis Miller, Tim McLaughlin, Richie Robb, Mickey Jackson, Jack Mahone, Charlie Jones, Millard Fleming, Jim Maddox, Millard Fleming, Bob Hamlin, George Hummel, Jasper Wright, Alpha Mayfield, Larry Coyer, George Riggs, Granville Zopp, Harper Hill, and Bob Lutz. Snyder prospered after leaving Marshall, working as an Associate AD at Toledo after moving there as an assistant coach in 1968.

Moss and Tolley eras (1968–1970)[edit]

Perry Moss led the Thundering Herd for one season, posting a 0-9-1 record before being replaced. Moss was part of the huge attempt to overhaul the Herd by boosters, actually having players coming in nationally for scholarship scrimmages. Moss had won the Continental Football League title in 1966 with the Charleston (W.Va.) Rockets, then in 1967 with the ContFL team in Orlando. He coached Arena Football many years in Florida. He also hired Jim "Shorty" Moss from his ContFL staff to work at Marshall and brought in All-American Florida State end William "Red" Dawson to coach in '68, and Dawson - a coach featured in the "Ashes to Glory" documentary and the "We Are Marshall" motion picture - stayed with the program until after the 1972 season, helping coach during the dark days of 1970-72 at Marshall.

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] The one remaining game of the season, an away game at Ohio, was cancelled. Marshall spent a full 15 years recovering from the crash, was the nation's worst football program in the 1970s, and did not have another winning season between 1964 and 1983.

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

The November 14, 1970, plane crash that killed all 75 passengers on board, including 37 players of the Thundering Herd football team, five coaches and many fans, boosters and families, is well documented (see link above). The event and its aftermath were dramatized in the 2006 Warner Brothers motion picture, We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox. It was also depicted in the 2000 award winning documentary Ashes to Glory by Debora Novak and John Witek. There is a plaque at the College Football Hall of Fame in honor of those lost in the 1970 crash, the Marshall Memorial Student Center and Memorial fountain (dedicated in 1972) on the MSC plaza are both in memorial to the lives lost and on a facade on the stadium's west side is a bronze memorial dedicated to the plane-crash victim, dedicated in 2000. Even with a short window of one year for Moss, and two for Tolley, a number of outstanding players came to the Herd including Ted Shoebridge, Dickie Carter, John Hurst, Art Harris, Larry Carter, Skipper Williams, Jeff Terns, Marcelo Lajterman, Wayne Bennett, Jerry Stainback, Roger Childers, Larry Brown, Greg Finn, George Riggs, Larry Sanders, Dennis Blevins, Kevin Gilmore, Bob Harris, Ed Carter, Scott Reese, Mike Blake, Freddie Wilson, Tom Zborill, Bobby Hill, Barry Nash, John Repasy, Chuck Saylor Robert VanHorn, and Pat Norrell - many of whom died in the crash.

Jack Lengyel era (1971–1974)[edit]

In the wake of the crash, Marshall was given special permission by the NCAA to play incoming freshmen at the varsity level for the 1971 season. This team was dubbed the Young Thundering Herd and led by the few upperclassmen who didn't make the trip. Several players from other Marshall sports programs rounded out the team's roster. Wooster head coach Jack Lengyel was chosen to lead the crippled program. Lengyel, not surprisingly, struggled with a 9-33 record but won the first home game played after the 1970 tragedy, a 15-13 victory over Xavier, winning on the last play of the game on a Reggie Oliver pass to Terry Gardner, sprung thanks to a block from Jack Crabtree, an offensive tackle on the left side of the line. Lengyel resigned after four seasons when there was pressure from Athletic Director Joe McMullen (who hired Lengyel, and coached his at Akron) when McMullen wanted to make staff changes and other interference with Lengyel's team.That same 1971 season, the Herd upset a 6-1-1 Bowling Green team at Homecoming, 12-10, possibly costing the Coach Don Nehlen Falcons a chance at a bowl bid. It was the second upset of BGSU head coach Nehlen, later the ultra-successful head coach of the WVU Mountaineers and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, as the Marshall football win over BGSU at homecoming in 1969 broke a 0-26-1 losing streak going back to 1965. Many great players played on these not so great (record wise, with a high water mark of 4-7 in 1973) including Oliver, Gardner, Crabtree (whom offensive line coach Jim McNally, a guru of OL play with a number of NFL teams and in books, called the most overachieving tackle he ever coached in 1999), John "Fuzzy" Filliez, Jon Lockett, Eric Gessler, Roger Hillis, Mark Brookover, Jesse Smith, Steve Morton, Rick Meckstroth, Dave Griffith, Nate Ruffin, Randy Kerr, Chuck Wright, Allen Meadows, Bill Yanossy, Bill Forbes, Bob Tracey, Ned Burks, Lanny Steed, Bob Eshbaugh, Felix Jordan, Dave Walsh, Charles "Chuck" Henry, Bob Krone, Mark Miller, Jim Mercer, Greg Johnson, Sydney Bell.

Frank Ellwood era (1975–1978)[edit]

Frank Ellwood took over as the Marshall head coach following Lengyel's resignation and also struggled. His teams failed to post a winning record, capping a decade in which the Thundering Herd posted a dismal 23-83 record. The high water mark was a 5-6 record in 1976, aided by Morehead State using an ineligible player in the Eagles opening win over the Herd and an upset of No. 20 Miami-Ohio, a team Marshall had not beaten and only tied once in games between 1940-75. The most important part of the decade was Marshall leaving being an independent since 1968-69 when the Herd was tossed out of the MAC for those 144 alleged recruiting violations in 1967. Marshall received a one year probation from the NCAA, but the MAC dismissed the program and would not hear appeals in the early 1970-72 era. Marshall joined the Southern Conference in 1977, immediately winning the SC Cross Country championship that year, winning in baseball the following spring and advancing to two SC finals under Stu Aberdeen. But football would go 0-26-1 in the first five years of the SC, finally tying Western Carolina in 1980 on a 59-yard field goal, then getting its first win in the SoCon over Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. on Nov. 7, 1981. Elwood made headlines when at the Southern Conference rouser in Johnson City, Tenn. he predicted the Herd would win the 1977 SoCon title (off of the 5-6 season in '76). Marshall lost the first SC game 28-20 at Appalachian State and did not win a game in league play until they won at Boone five years later. Some outstanding players were members of not so great teams including Shawn Burke, Paul Wheeler, Mike Kesling, Matt Gaines, Dan Wells, Howie Harrie, JC Felton, Mike Bailey, CW Geiger, Herman "Bud" Nelson, Danny Wright, Steve Williams, John "Fuzzy" Filliez, Ray Crisp, Jr., Dave Crisp, Todd Ellwood, Mike Natale, John Huth, Ed Hamrick, Mike Hamrick, Wayne Sparks, Bill Yanossy, Bill Forbes, Kevin Smith, Greg Kendziorski, Ed McTaggert, Dave Kirby, Kenny Lawson, Greg Johnson, Billy Stephenson, Mike Sprouse, Dennis Bellamy, Jesse Smith, Hobart Phillips, Mark Brookover, Harold Wetzel, Paul Kuzio, Kevin Jackson, Sly Drobney, Bobby Coleman, Bob Campbell, Mike Johnson, and Sam Kinker.

Sonny Randle era (1979–1983)[edit]

Under the tutelage of head coach Sonny Randle, the Thundering Herd failed to post a record better than 4-7, but gained some momentum, getting better each year. 1-10, 2-8-1, 2-9, 3-8 and 4-7 were the year-by-year records of Randle's tenure in Huntington. Randle stepped down after five seasons. Randle inherited a program with no where to go but up, having lost every game in the first two years of the Southern Conference in 1977 and 1978. In the first spring football for Randle's Herd, the players on the squad dropped from 80-to-40 in 20 brutal practices, but did beat the Alumni in the annual Spring Game. Randle brought in many top players in his first two seasons, including freshman walk-on Ron Lear who rushed for over 1,000 yards - the first walk-on freshman in NCAA history and players like Carl Lee, Terry Echols, Larry Fourquean, Jim Hynus, Troy McNett and others - and by the time those players were seniors the team was 3-8, then 4-7. The non-Southern Conference non-loss came on a still NCAA Freshman record 59-yard field goal by frosh kicker Barry Childers - a player who could hit 50+ yard field goals with either leg. His kick gave the Herd a 13-13 tie at Western Carolina on Oct. 25, 1980. The next year, the Thundering Herd traveled to Appalachian State - the site of its first loss in Southern play back on Oct. 1, 1977 - and behind 245 yards of rushing out of running back Larry Fourquean, the Herd got the 17-14 SoCon first win over the Mountaineers. The Huntington police picked up the team buses at Hurricane on I-64, and gave the team an escort all the way to Gullickson Gym and Hodges Hall, the coach's offices in the former and the players mostly rooming in the later. "That was King Kong we knocked off our backs today," Randle said to a crowd estimated at over 3,000 to cheer the win. Randle finished 4-7 his fifth year, and beat VMI in his final game 56-7 on Nov. 19, 1983, missing a winning season with a 7-3 loss at Eastern Michigan and a 23-16 loss to UT-Chattanooga. Randle players who stood out include Carl Lee, Jimmy Devine, Ron Lear, Pat Velardi, Barry Childers, Alan Huff, Larry Fourquean, Gilbert Orr, Danny Wright, Ted Carpenter, Carl Fodor, Darnel Richardson, Tony Stott, Brian Swisher, Terry Echols, Scott LaTulipe, Troy McNett, Jim Hynus, Billy Hynus, Moke Riggs, Jessie Bandy, Donnell Ross, Glenn Bates, Tony Lellie, James Wynes, Marty Palazeti, John Ceglie, Rocky Williams, Danny Abercrombie, Sam Manos, Steve Stoll, Juan Stout, Dan Staggs, Rob Bowers, Todd Evans, Carl Fodor, Randy Clarkson, Robert Surratt, Jeff Borman, Ted Jackson, Dean Roberts, George Elliott, Brian Hite, Mark Taylor, John T. Logan, Garfield Lewis, Mike Copenhaver, Eugene Pertee, Poncho Borgese, Tony Evans, Bill McCourt, Brad Morrison, Clifford Wright, Jeff Durette, Danny Tennant, Dickie Rollins, Tony Henderson, Erik King, David Hawkins, Jimmy North, Greg Liebe, Mike Staggs, Dale Rice, Tim Campbell, John Sharretts, and Greg Wiley.

Stan Parrish era (1984–1985)[edit]

Stan Parrish came to Marshall from his post as an assistant coach at Purdue. Parrish benefitted from Marshall and the Southern Conference being dropped to I-AA status in 1982, which allowed the Herd rid itself of the teams like Kent State, Miami-Ohio, Louisville, Western and Eastern Michigan and pick up instead NAIA West Virginia Tech as an opener for both 1984 and 1985 as well as playing Eastern Kentucky on a regular basis. In 1984, Parrish's first year, the Thundering Herd posted their first winning record in two decades, a 6-5 record, winning his final two games of the year in spectacular fashion. The Herd won at Illinois State in a storm following a 30-minute tornado warning, taking the wind in the first quarter to get a field goal and a 10-3 win. Then the Herd won at Johnson City, Tenn. in the ETSU Memorial Center, or "Mini-Dome," with a 31-28 win for the sixth win of the season. The next year, Marshall posted a 7-3-1 record, which included a perfect record at home, a 5-0-1 start and at one point were ranked #3 in the country. Plans for a new on-campus stadium for Marshall were made after the 1985 season. Parrish left after two seasons to accept the head football coach position at Kansas State, the only school that had competed with Marshall for worst team of the 1970s. Parrish would later say leaving Marshall right then was his greatest mistake as a coach, as he lasted only 1986-88 with K-State before leaving the Wildcats. Parrish recruited future Marshall All-American, NFL player and College Football Hall of Fame member Mike Barber as well as moving to center Sam Manos, who would win second team All-American honors in 1986 and added Marshall players who bloomed under George Chaump like Keith Baxter, Cecil Fletcher, and Reggie Giles. Other greats of the Parrish era included Mike McCoy, Randy Clarkson, Carl Fodor, Tim Lewis, Robert Surratt, Mike Salmons, John Mitchell, Mike Copenhaver, Darryl Burgess, Garfield Lewis, John Halford, Todd Brown, Rob Bowers, John Ceglie, Chuck Felty, Jay Gleich, Billy Hynus, Scott LaTulipe, Bill Salmons, Steve Staley, Brian Swisher, Furness Whittington, and Tony Bolland.

George Chaump era (1986–1989)[edit]

George Chaump left IUP to come to Marshall in late 1985. Under Chaump, the Thundering Herd posted yearly records of 6-4-1, 10-5, 11-2 and 6-5, which included two runs into the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs, losses in the championship game and quarterfinal, respectively. Chaump was 6-4-1 in his first season with sophomore John Gregory at the helm, a former LA Dodgers farmhand who transferred from SE Louisiana when they dropped football. When Gregory was injured in mid-season, Tony Petersen - a California juco - took over led the Herd to four victories before losing out on a possible I-AA berth with two losses at the end of the season. In 1987, Gregory would be redshirted while Petersen would lead the Herd to its first 10-win season after starting 1-2 with losses at Ohio U. and at EKU. Marshall won six of its final eight to move into the I-AA playoffs, then knocked off James Madison (41-12), Weber State (51-23), and winning at Appalachian State - who beat the Herd earlier in Boone, 17-10 - beating the Mountaineers 24-10 to advance to the I-AA Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. In a classic shootout on ESPN, Louisiana-Monroe's Stan Humphrey out-dueled Petersen for a 43-42 win. Petersen won the Southern Conference Offensive Player and Athlete of the Year. The next year, in 1988, Marshall opened the season 8-0, went on to win its first game over Furman in front of a Fairfield Stadium crowd of over 19,000, 24-10, at homecoming, then beat Appalachian State, 30-27, on a Dewey Klein field goal. The Herd upset North Texas, 7-0, but fell to Furman in the quarterfinals, 13-9, as the Paladins went on to win the I-AA title. Chaump's final record in 1989 was 6-0 at home, but 0-5 on the road and he finished at Marshall, 33-16-1. Chaump departed after four seasons to accept the head football coach position at Navy, but had some great players like CFB HOF and All-American Mike Barber, the I-AA Player of the Year in 1987, and All-Americans Sean Doctor, Mark Snyder, Nick McKnight. All-Southern Conference players include Greg Adkins, Barber, Ron Darby, Doctor, Cecil Fletcher, Reggie Giles, John Gregory, John Halford, Stanley Hall, Bruce Hammond, Eric Ihnat, Dewey Klein, McKnight, Bill Mendoza, Andre Motley, Tony Petersen, John Spellacy, Madison Sayre, Snyder, Von Woodson and other players like Keith Baxter, Darryl DeBose, Vincent Bodie, Todd Fugate, JR McVickers, Kevin Gault, George Barlow, Eric Gates, Larry Huffman, Kerry Parks, David Johnson, Ricardo Clark, Jim Torres, Shawn Finnan, Larry O'Dell, Rory Fitzpatrick, Rondell Wannamaker, Tim Flaherty, Kenny Green, Jerome Hazard, Mike Talkington, Keith Powell, Scott Heckel, Jay Gleich, John Cook, Rod Barnes, Norm Franklin, Michael Bryant, Ken Pepe, Erric Tyler, Matt Downey, Jarod Thomas, Mike Gill, John Humphreys, Jeff Fruit, Tim Mitchell, Matt Caton, and Layne Vranka.

Jim Donnan era (1990–1995)[edit]

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 a 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] Donnan was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2009, largely for his successes at Marshall. although at Georgia he led the Bulldogs to four consecutive bowls with four wins in those games, the first time that was accomplished at UGA.

Bob Pruett era (1996–2004)[edit]

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 to Division I-A, Marshall has finished in the Top 25 three times: 1999 (10th AP/10th coaches' poll), 2001 (21st coaches poll), 2002 (24th AP/19th 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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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]


National championships[edit]

Year Coach Selector Record Opponents Result
1992 Jim Donnan NCAA Division I-AA national champions 12–3 Youngstown State Marshall 31, Youngstown State 28
1996 Bob Pruett NCAA Division I-AA national champions 15–0 Montana Marshall 49, Montana 29
Total national championships: 2

Conference championships[edit]

Year Coach Conference Conference record Overall record
1925 Charles Tallman West Virginia 3–0–2 4–1–4
1928 Charles Tallman West Virginia 5–0 8–1–1
1931 Tom Dandelet West Virginia 4–1 6–3
1937 Cam Henderson Buckeye 4–0–1 9–0–1
1988† George Chaump Southern 6–1 11–2
1994 Jim Donnan Southern 7–1 12–2
1996 Bob Pruett Southern 8–0 15–0
1997 Bob Pruett Mid-American 8–1 10–3
1998 Bob Pruett Mid-American 8–1 12–1
1999 Bob Pruett Mid-American 9–0 13–0
2000 Bob Pruett Mid-American 6–3 8–5
2002 Bob Pruett Mid-American 8–1 11–2
2014 Doc Holliday C-USA 7–1 13–1
Conference championships: 13

† Denotes co-champions

Home venues[edit]

Conference affiliations[edit]


Years Coach Wins Losses Ties Pct.
19031904 George Ford 4 4 4 .500
1905 Alfred McCray 6 2 0 .750
1906 Pearl Rardin 4 1 0 .800
1908 W.G. Vinal 0 6 0 .000
19091916 Boyd Chambers 32 27 4 .539
1917 Carl Shipley 1 7 1 .167
1919 Archer Reilly 8 0 0 1.000
1920 Herbert Cramer 0 8 0 .000
19211922 Kemper Shelton 11 6 1 .639
1923 Harrison Briggs 1 7 0 .125
1924 Russell Meredith 4 4 0 .500
19251928 Charles Tallman 22 9 7 .671
19291930 John Maulbetsch 8 8 2 .500
19311934 Tom Dandelet 18 16 2 .528
19351949 Cam Henderson 68 46 5 .592
19501952 Pete Pederson 9 19 3 .339
19531958 Herb Royer 21 31 2 .407
19591967 Charlie Snyder 28 58 3 .331
1968 Perry Moss 0 9 1 .050
19691970 Rick Tolley 6 13 0 .316
19711974 Jack Lengyel 9 33 0 .272
19751978 Frank Ellwood 10 34 0 .227
19791983 Sonny Randle 12 42 1 .227
19841985 Stan Parrish 13 8 1 .614
19861989 George Chaump 33 16 1 .670
19901995 Jim Donnan 64 21 0 .753
19962004 Bob Pruett 94 23 0 .803
20052009 Mark Snyder 22 37 0 .379
2009 Rick Minter 1 0 0 1.000
2010–present Doc Holliday 53 37 0 .589

Herd football traditions[edit]

Marshall football is rich in traditions. Some Marshall football traditions include:

  • Marco - The school mascot is an American Bison, the species named the National Mammal in the summer of 2016, and Marco always sports a Marshall jersey. Sometimes called a buffalo, Marco had a female companion in the 1970s, Marsha, and a green-furred "son" named Buffy, who appeared in 1979-80. MARshall COllege is where the name came from, kept when the College became a University in 1961.
  • Marching Thunder - The Marshall University Marching Band known as the "Marching Thunder!"
  • "Sons of Marshall" - Marshall's fight song: "We are the sons of Marshall, Sons of the great John Marshall. Year after year we go to Marshall U., Cheering for our team and gaining knowledge, too. Proudly we wear our colors, Love and loyalty we share - Sure from far and near, You'll always hear 'The Wearing of the Green' For it's the Green and White of Marshall U!"[19]
  • "We Are…Marshall" Chant - Marshall's cheer, and title of movie in 2006 about plane crash and rebirth of program.
  • Thunder Clap - Marshall fans clap their hands over their heads in unison following some Marshall scores. One clap per point scored in the game for the Herd.
  • Marshall Cheerleaders - One cheerleading tradition occurs after every Marshall touchdown. A male cheerleader presses a female cheerleader over his head once for each point scored in the game by Marshall (as the fans do the Thunder Clap).
  • Marshall Maniacs - The student cheering section at most Marshall football games.
  • Thunder Walk - Marshall players and coaches make their way to the locker room through a gathering of Thundering Herd fans on the West Lot, and led in by the Herd cheerleaders and "Marching Thunder" Marshall marching band, prior to every home game.

Top 25 Finishes[edit]

1-AA Polls[edit]

Year NCAA Rank Sports Network Rank
1987 #14
1988 #7
1991 #8
1992 #10
1993 #9
1994 #2
1995 #6
1996 #1


1-A/FBS Polls[edit]

Year AP Rank Coaches Rank
1999 #10 #10
2001 #21
2002 #24 #19
2014 #23 #22


Individual award winners[edit]



Hall of Fame[edit]

College football[26][edit]

  • Marshall has five players and one coach in the College Football Hall of Fame, starting with Mike Barber (1985–88) who was a record-setting receiver for Marshall who helped lead the Herd to its first I-AA title game in 1987 and its first Southern Conference title in 1988. He still holds the receiving yardage record at MU with over 4,200 yards and was a two-time All-American before he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round in 1989. Barber also played for the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Harry "Cy" Young, who starred in football and baseball at Marshall College (University status in 1961) from 1910-1912. Young then left Marshall, and was a two-sport All-American at Washington & Lee. He is a member of the W&L HOF, MU HOF, WV Sportswriters HOF and Virginia Sports HOF besides the College FB HOF.
  • Jackie Hunt (1939–41) set a national scoring record in 1940 with 27 touchdowns in a ten-game season. He rushed for nearly 4,000 yards for Thundering Herd, a hometown star for the Huntington High Pony Express before joining Marshall. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears and was a two-time All-American, playing in the Blue-Gray Game following his career.
  • Troy Brown (1991–92) considered the single-most dangerous scoring threat in all of Division I-AA during his two seasons in Huntington, few can match the heralded career of Marshall's record-breaking wide receiver. A dual threat on the playing field, Brown's elusive nature as a receiver and kick returner led the Thundering Herd to back-to-back trips to the Division I- AA (now FCS) National Championship game, garnering the NCAA title in 1992. He caught 139 receptions for 2,746 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career en route to earning First Team All-America honors his senior year. Brown went on to play 14 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots, where he became the franchise's all-time leading receiver and won three Super Bowls with the team.[27]
  • Jim Donnan (1990–1995) the only coach representing Marshall in the College Football Hall of Fame. Donnan spent six seasons with Marshall and posted a 64-21 record. He led the Thundering Herd to four Division I-AA National Championship games, winning the 1992 national title. In 1994, the Thundering Herd won the Southern Conference Championship. His 15-4 playoff record ranks second best in NCAA FCS history. He was named Division I- AA Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1995.[28]

Pro football[edit]

  • Frank Gatski, C, 1985. Gatski is the only Marshall player to have his jersey number retired and is Marshall's only player in the Professional Football Hall of Fame. The university retired Gatski's No. 72 during a halftime ceremony at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on October 15, 2005. Gatski died a month later, at age 86. During his career with the Cleveland Browns (1946–56) and the Detroit Lions (1957) he won eight championships in 11 title game appearances. Cleveland won the All-American Football Conference four straight years, going 14-0 in 1948, before joining the NFL. The Browns won NFL titles in 1950, 1954 and 1955 and were runners-up in 1951, 1952 and 1953. Gatski's Lions beat the Browns for his final title in 1957. The 31st Street Bridge, connecting Huntington to Proctorville, Ohio, is also named in Gatski's honor, joining U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (formerly the Sixth St. Bridge) and Congressman Nick Rahall (the former 17th St. Bridge) among three structures stretching across the Ohio River from West Virginia to Ohio.[29]

Marshall University Hall of Fame[edit]

Established in 1984, members from the football team are listed below.

Current NFL players[edit]

Herd in the NFL
NFL Draft selections
Total selected: 38[30]
First picks in draft: 0
1st Round: 3


Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of March 31, 2017

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
vs Miami (OH) at Miami (OH) vs VMI at East Carolina at Navy vs Navy
at NC State vs Eastern Kentucky at Boise State at Ohio vs East Carolina vs Appalachian State
vs Kent State at South Carolina vs Ohio vs Pittsburgh at Appalachian State
at Cincinnati vs NC State vs Cincinnati vs Boise State



  1. ^ College Football Data Warehouse. "Marshall's National Championship". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2009-06-07. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  2. ^ "Marshall University Brand Guidelines" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
  3. ^ "Herd Notebook: Upstairs, Jerseys, Turf". Herdzone. Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  4. ^ Woody Woodrum. "Marshall-WVU Series Has Great, Short History - Marshall - Scout". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  5. ^ "Plane crash devastates Marshall University - Nov 14, 1970". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  6. ^ "Marshall Hires Donnan". 1990-01-19. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  7. ^ "Gallery: Marshall vs. Youngstown State, Dec. 19, 1992 | Recent News". 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  8. ^ Associated Press (1995-12-26). "Georgia Reacts Quickly to Mason Snub, Names Donnan as Its Coach - latimes". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  9. ^ "Marshall Hires Pruett as football coach". 1996-01-10. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  10. ^ 1 second ago. "Ole Miss Rebels Official Athletic Site Ole Miss Rebels Official Athletic Site - Football". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  11. ^ a b c d e [1][dead link]
  12. ^ Wartman, Scott (2005-03-09). " - Marshall coach Bob Pruett announces his retirement". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  13. ^ Press, Associated (2005-04-15). "Marshall hires Snyder". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  14. ^ "Little Caesars Bowl: Marshall (6-6) vs. Ohio (9-4)". 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  15. ^ "Marshall hires WVU's Holliday as head coach". 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  16. ^ "Marshall to hire Doc Holliday as new coach". 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  17. ^ McGuire, Kevin (2011-12-21). "Marshall pulls away from FIU to win Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl – CollegeFootballTalk". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  18. ^ McGuire, Kevin (2014-12-06). "Rakeem Cato's late heroics leads Marshall to Conference USA title – CollegeFootballTalk". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Marshall In the Polls
  21. ^ Walter Payton Award
  22. ^ "Biletnikoff Award". Biletnikoff Award. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2008. 
  24. ^ [2][dead link]
  25. ^ 2008 Marshall Football Media Guide
  26. ^ "National Football Foundation > Home". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  27. ^ [3][dead link]
  28. ^ [4][dead link]
  29. ^ "Frank Gatski - Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  30. ^ "Marshall Players Drafted". Archived from the original on 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 
  31. ^ ESPN - NFL Football Players By College - M - National Football League
  32. ^ "Marshall Thundering Herd Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved 2014-09-07. 

External links[edit]