Marshall Thundering Herd football

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Marshall Thundering Herd football
2016 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
Marshall University block 'M' logo.png
First season 1895
Athletic director Mike Hamrick
Head coach Doc Holliday
7th year, 51–30 (.630)
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 14
Division titles 8
Consensus All-Americans 44
Colors Green and White[2]
Fight song Sons of Marshall
Mascot Marco the Buffalo
Marching band Marching Thunder
Outfitter Nike
Rivals Ohio
East Carolina
West Virginia

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, leading to a rule change in 1916.[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 rival West Virginia. Tallman's Thundering Herd won conference championships in 1925 and 1928.

Tallman was succeeded by 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 a conference championship.

The Cam Henderson era (1935–1942 and 1946–1949)[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.

Pederson, Royer and Snyder (1950–1967)[edit]

The Thundering Herd were led by head coaches Pete Pederson, Herb Royer and Charlie Snyder from 1950-1967. The Herd were mostly mediocre during this time period, winning no conference championships and home attendance was up and down. During this time, Marshall joined the Ohio Valley Conference (1948), but left in 1952 to join the Mid-American Conference in 1953, in which Marshall competed in until 1968. The Herd finished second under Royer (honorable mention AP "Little" All-American for Cam Henderson in 1937) in 1957 and under Snyder (Captain of the 1947 Tangerine Bowl team and two-way tackle for Henderson) in 1964, when future head coach Bobby Pruett was a senior receiver. Pederson tried to take the Herd's wing-T offense and use the NFL-popular T-Formation, but he only had one winning season. Royer and Snyder ran the Henderson wing-T with some success, but Marshall was always underfunded, and that really began to hurt the program in 1965, when two-platoon football became the new rule for NCAA teams, as Snyder's final team was 0-10. Royer and Snyder both prospered after leaving Marshall, with Royer teaching in California before coming back to Marshall, and coached Logan High School and W.Va. Tech to winning years including the latter's only WVIAC title in 1950 until Coach Bob Gobel won Tech's second in 1989. Snyder joined the staff at the University of Toledo, which had undefeated seasons in 1971-72-73 and then became a long-time associate athletic director and continued the series with Marshall during the 1970s.

Moss and Tolley (1968–1970)[edit]

Perry Moss led the Thundering Herd for one season, posting an 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 CFL team in Orlando. He coached Arena Football many years in Florida. He also hired Jim "Shorty" Moss from his CFL staff to work at Marshall and brought in All-American Florida State end William "Red" Dawson to coach in '68, and Dawson - one of the coach's who were 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.

Plane crash[edit]

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 members of the Thundering Herd football team, is well documented. 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 documentary Ashes to Glory. There is a plaque at the College Football Hall of Fame in honor of those lost in the 1970 crash and on a facade on the stadium's west side is a bronze memorial dedicated to the plane-crash victims.

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. Lengyel resigned after four seasons.That same 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 Nehlen, later the ultra-successful Coach of the WVU Mountaineers, with BGSU, as the Marshall win in 1969 broke a 26-0-1 losing streak going back to 1965.

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 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 one-years probation from the NCAA, but the MAC dismissed the program and would not hear appeals into 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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, led the Thundering Herd to a 7-6 record in 2011, capped with a victory in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.[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
1992 Jim Donnan Southern 5–2 12–3
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: 14

† 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 Penderson 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 50 28 0 .641

Herd football traditions[edit]

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

  • Marco the Buffalo - 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. He had a female companion in the 1970s, Marsha, and a green-furred "step-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…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 small gathering of Thundering Herd fans prior to every home game.

Important games[edit]

Conference Championship games[edit]

MAC Championship games[edit]

Marshall has appeared in 6 MAC Championship Games, compiling a record of 5–1 in those games.

Date Location W/L Opponent PF PA
December 5, 1997 Marshall University Stadium W Toledo 34 14
December 4, 1998 Marshall University Stadium W Toledo 23 17
December 3, 1999 Marshall University Stadium W Western Michigan 34 30
December 2, 2000 Marshall University Stadium W Western Michigan 19 14
November 30, 2001 Glass Bowl L Toledo 36 41
December 7, 2002 Marshall University Stadium W Toledo 49 45
Total 6 Championship games 5–1 195 161

C-USA Championship games[edit]

Marshall has appeared in 2 Conference USA Championship Games, compiling a record of 1–1 in those games.

Date Location W/L Opponent PF PA
December 7, 2013 Rice Stadium L Rice 24 41
December 6, 2014 Joan C. Edwards Stadium W LA Tech 26 23
Total 2 Championship games 1–1 50 64

Division I-AA Playoffs results[edit]

Marhsall has appeared in the I-AA playoffs eight times, compiling a record 23–6 in those games. They are two time I-AA National Champions and four time national runners-up.

Year Round W/L Opponent PF PA
1987 First Round
National Championship Game
James Madison
Weber State
Appalachian State
Northeast Louisiana
1988 First Round
North Texas
1991 First Round
National Championship Game
Western Illinois
Northern Iowa
Eastern Kentucky
Youngstown State
17 OT
1992 First Round
National Championship Game
Eastern Kentucky
Middle Tennessee State
Youngstown State
1993 First Round
National Championship Game
Troy State
Youngstown State
1994 First Round
Middle Tennessee
James Madison
Boise State
21 OT
1995 First Round
National Championship Game
Jackson State
Northern Iowa
McNeese State
1996 First Round
National Championship Game
Northern Iowa
Total 29 Playoff games 23–6 914 489

Bowl games[edit]

Marshall has been invited to play in 13 bowl games in its history, compiling a record of 10–3 in those games. Marshall currently has the highest win percentage among all FBS teams with at least 10 bowl games.

Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA
January 1, 1948 Tangerine Bowl L Catawba 0 7
December 26, 1997 Motor City Bowl L Ole Miss 31 34
December 23, 1998 Motor City Bowl W Louisville 48 29
December 27, 1999 Motor City Bowl W BYU 21 3
December 27, 2000 Motor City Bowl W Cincinnati 25 14
December 19, 2001 GMAC Bowl W East Carolina 64 61
December 18, 2002 GMAC Bowl W Louisville 38 15
December 23, 2004 Fort Worth Bowl L Cincinnati 14 32
December 26, 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl W Ohio 21 17
December 20, 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl W Florida International 20 10
December 27, 2013 Military Bowl W Maryland 31 20
December 23, 2014 Boca Raton Bowl W Northern Illinois 52 23
December 26, 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl W Connecticut 16 10
Total 13 bowl games 10–3 381 275

All-time record vs. C-USA teams[edit]

Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current C-USA opponents:

Opponent Won Lost Percentage Streak First Last
Charlotte 1 0 1.000 Won 1 2015 2015
Florida Atlantic 3 0 1.000 Won 3 2013 2015
FIU 4 0 1.000 Won 4 2011 2015
Louisiana Tech 1 1 .500 Won 1 1942 2014
Middle Tennessee 3 2 .600 Lost 1 1992 2015
North Texas 2 0 1.000 Won 2 1988 2015
Old Dominion 2 0 1.000 Won 2 2014 2015
Rice 4 2 .667 Won 1 2007 2014
Southern Miss 6 5 .545 Won 5 2005 2015
UTEP 2 2 .500 Won 1 2005 2010
UTSA 1 0 1.000 Won 1 2013 2013
Western Kentucky 4 3 .571 Lost 2 1941 2015
Totals 33 15 .688

Rivalry games[edit]


Further information: Battle for the Bell

Marshall competes against Ohio in the Battle for the Bell, with a traveling bell trophy as the prize for the victor. With Marshall's move to Conference USA in 2005 this rivalry game has been on hiatus. The regularly scheduled series resumed between the two schools in 2010. The rivalry was renewed in 2009 when the Herd and Bobcats faced off in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which the Herd won 21-17. Ohio leads the all-time series over Marshall, however the Thundering Herd have won 10 of 15 meetings since rejoining the FBS in 1997.

West Virginia[edit]

Further information: Friends of Coal Bowl

Marshall played West Virginia in the annual Friends of Coal Bowl until 2012. Marshall and WVU first played in 1911, but it wasn't until 2006 before the two schools from the "Mountain State" faced off annually for the Governor's Cup. Marshall has never won against the Mountaineers in 12 meetings all-time. The two last played in 2012, and there are no immediate plans to renew the rivalry. Some believe the rivalry began due to political pressure from the state government.

East Carolina[edit]

Marshall and East Carolina have a "friendly" rivalry with one another. They are emotionally bonded by the tragic plane crash on November 14, 1970. The Thundering Herd were coming back from Greenville, North Carolina after a 17–14 loss to the Pirates when their plane crashed near Ceredo, West Virginia. The teams have been bonded ever since.

One of Marshall and ECU's most memorable games was the 2001 GMAC Bowl as they combined for a bowl record, 125 points, as Marshall overcame a 30-point deficit to beat East Carolina 64–61 in double overtime. After Marshall defeated East Carolina in 2013, it marked ECU's last conference match-up as a member of Conference USA. It is undetermined when the two schools will play again as East Carolina moves from Conference USA to American Athletic Conference in 2014.

East Carolina leads the all-time record over Marshall 10–5. ECU is 6–3 against the Herd from 2005 to 2013 when both schools were in Conference USA.

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[25][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.[26]
  • 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.[27]

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.[28]

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[29]
First picks in draft: 0
1st Round: 3


Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of July 15, 2016

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
vs Morgan State vs Miami (OH) at Miami (OH) vs Ohio at East Carolina at Navy vs Navy
vs Akron at NC State at South Carolina at Boise State at Ohio vs East Carolina vs Appalachian State
vs Louisville vs Kent State vs NC State vs Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh at Appalachian State
at Pittsburgh at Cincinnati vs Boise State



  1. ^ College Football Data Warehouse. "Marshall's National Championship". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  2. ^ "Electronic Branding Standards Manual – Marshall University". Retrieved 2016-03-24. 
  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. ^ a b Marshall In the Polls
  20. ^ Walter Payton Award
  21. ^ "Biletnikoff Award". Biletnikoff Award. Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2008. 
  23. ^ [2][dead link]
  24. ^ 2008 Marshall Football Media Guide
  25. ^ "National Football Foundation > Home". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  26. ^ [3][dead link]
  27. ^ [4][dead link]
  28. ^ "Frank Gatski - Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". Retrieved 2016-04-07. 
  29. ^ "Marshall Players Drafted". Archived from the original on 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 
  30. ^ ESPN - NFL Football Players By College - M - National Football League
  31. ^ "Marshall Thundering Herd Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved 2014-09-07. 

External links[edit]