- Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall Thundering Herd University Marshall University Conference(s) Conference USA NCAA Division I Athletics director Mike Hamrick Location Huntington, WV Varsity teams 15 Football stadium Joan C. Edwards Stadium Basketball arena Cam Henderson Center Baseball stadium Appalachian Power Park Mascot Marco the Buffalo Nickname Thundering Herd Fight song Sons of Marshall Colors Kelly Green and White Homepage Herdzone.cstv.com
The Marshall Thundering Herd are the intercollegiate athletic teams that collectively represent the Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Thundering Herd athletic teams compete in Conference USA, which are members of the NCAA Division I. Sports at the school include women's softball, swimming & diving, tennis, volleyball, and track & field; men's football, baseball; and teams for both genders in basketball, cross country, golf, and soccer.
The name Thundering Herd came from a Zane Grey novel released in 1925, and a silent movie of the same name which was released two years later. Marshall teams were originally known as the Indians, and the green-white colors came in 1903, replacing black and blue. The Herald-Dispatch sports editor Carl "Duke" Ridgley tagged the team with the Thundering Herd name, but many other nicknames were suggested over the next thirty years, including Boogercats, Big Green, Green Gobblers, Rams, Judges and others. In 1965, students, alums and faculty settled on Thundering Herd in a vote, and Big Green was given to the athletic department's fund-raising wing.
There are six NCAA men's athletic teams and nine women's teams at Marshall:
- Cross County
- Cross Country
- Swimming & Diving
- Track & Field
For current season, see: 2011 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
The Thundering Herd won conference titles in 1925, 1928, 1931, 1937, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002. Additionally, Marshall won NCAA I-AA National Championships in 1992 and 1996, and the Thundering Herd were the I-AA national runner-up in 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1995. In 1997, Marshall returned to the highest level of college football, becoming a member of the Mid-American Conference. Since that move, the Herd has played in eight bowl games (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2009), with a record of 6–2.
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 depicted in the 2006 Warner Brothers motion picture, We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox.
Marshall has sent several alums to the NFL, including past and present stars Chad Pennington, Troy Brown, Randy Moss, Byron Leftwich and Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank "Gunner" Gatski. Other former Thundering Herd stars of note who have gone on to play in the NFL include: three-time Pro Bowl defensive back Carl Lee, Pro Bowl long snapper/tight end Mike Bartrum, Chris Crocker, Steve Sciullo, Darius Watts, Chris Massey, John Wade, Johnathan Goddard, Eric Kresser and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Former Marshall lineman Frank Gatski was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, joining Joe Namath, Roger Staubach and Pete Rozelle in the class of inductees that year. Gatski is the only Marshall player to have his jersey number retired and is Marshall's only player in the Pro 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, and 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 Gatki'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.
The current Thundering Herd head coach is John "Doc" Holliday. Coach Holliday was hired as head coach on December 17, 2009. He replaced former coach Mark Snyder, who had resigned the previous month after five seasons. Before taking over as head coach of Marshall, Holliday had been an assistant under head coach Bill Stewart at West Virginia.
The Thundering Herd was the winningest NCAA Division I program in the 1990s, winning 114 games against 25 losses, in direct contrast to being the nation's worst football program in the 1970s. Including the year of the crash, Marshall was 23–83 from 1970–79, changing head coaches four times during that period. Marshall had a winless streak of 0–26–1 from 1966–1969, and began Southern Conference play in 1977 with the exact record through 1981, 0–26–1. Marshall tied Western Carolina on a 59-yard field goal by freshman Barry Childers in 1980, still a NCAA frosh record, and finally broke through with a 17–10 win at Appalachian State in November 1981. Marshall's first winning season since 1964 came in 1984 under first-year head coach Stan Parrish, clinched with a 31–28 win over East Tennessee State in the Bucs "Mini Dome" or Memorial Center indoor stadium.
Marshall won Division I-AA national championships in 1992 over Youngstown State (31–28) and in 1996 over Montana (49–29), as well as being national runner-up in 1987 (10–5, setting record for wins in MU single season), 1991, 1993 and 1995. The Herd won the SC in 1988 (11–2 season), 1994 (12–2) and 1996 (15–0). Marshall set a I-AA record with five straight seasons making at least the semi-finals of the I-AA Playoffs from 1991–96. The 1996 team, with Moss, Wade, Hanson, Erik 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. It is considered by many as the greatest I-AA team (now Football Championship Subdivision) of all time.
MU moved to Division I-A and the Mid-American Conference in 1997. 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 is 5–2 in bowl games and 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, but won the next three games in Michigan's Pontiac Silverdome, beating Louisville 48–29 in 1998, beating No. 25 BYU 21–3 in 1999 to finish 13–0 and beating Cincinnati in 2000, 25–14. 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 the highest scoring bowl game of all-time, and MU rallied from a 38–8 halftime deficit behind Leftwich's five touchdown passes. Marshall would fall to the Bearcats in the 2004 Plains Capital Fort Worth Bowl at TCU's Amon Carter Stadium, 32–14, in Bob Pruett's final game as head coach.
Marshall has three and soon to be four players in the College Football Hall of Fame, starting with Harry "Cy" Young, who starred in football and baseball at Marshall College (University status in 1961) from 1910–1912. Young then left Marshall, a normal school at that time (two-year program for educating secondary teachers – Marshall began granting four-year degrees in 1920) 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. Mike Barber (1985–88) 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. 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. There is a plaque at the College Football Hall of Fame in honor of those lost in the 1970 crash, and assistant coach of that MU team, Frank Loria, is in the Hall of Fame for his career at Virginia Tech. One other member of the Hall has a Marshall connection. John Maulbetsch was an All-American at Michigan, but coached at Marshall from 1929–1930 and posted an 8–8–2 record including a win and tie with Louisville. On May 11, 2010, Troy Brown was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Under head coach and Marshall alum Bobby Pruett, the Thundering Herd made a triumphant return to Division I-A, returning to the Mid-American Conference. Led by quarterback Chad Pennington and All-American wide receiver Randy Moss, Marshall won the MAC championship in 1997. In 1999, the Herd completed an undefeated season resulting in an Associated Press Top 10 ranking. By 2000, with quarterback Byron Leftwich, Marshall extended its string of consecutive MAC titles to four, over Toledo (1997 & 1998) and Western Michigan (1999 & 2000). The Herd lost in the MAC championship game in 2001, but reclaimed the conference title in 2002. At the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Marshall rallied from a 8–38 lead by East Carolina behind five second half touchdowns from Leftwich, to win 64–61 in double overtime, the highest scoring bowl game in NCAA history. Marshall would defeat Louisville in the 2002 GMAC Bowl for its fourth win over a Conference USA program in five bowls (UL-1998 Motor City Bowl; Cincinnati-2000 MCB; ECU-2001 GMAC Bowl; UL-2002 GMAC Bowl). Marshall would lost to C-USA member Cincinnati in the 2004 PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl in Bob Pruett's final season. Later that year, Marshall would join Conference USA while Louisville and Cincinnati, along with DePaul, Marquette and South Florida jumped to the Big East from C-USA and UNC-Charlotte and St. Louis left C-USA to join the Atlantic 10. Joining MU in C-USA in 2005 was UCF, who played in the MAC for football and Atlantic Sun for other sports, and Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and SMU also joined the league with Southern Miss, Tulane, Houston, UAB, Memphis and East Carolina, who remained members after the other schools left.
During the 1990s, Marshall posted the most wins of any NCAA Division I football program in America, winning 114 games and losing just 25. The Thundering Herd won Division I-AA national championships in 1992 and 1996 before moving to I-A in 1997, and set a Division I, FCS (formerly I-AA, now the Football Championship Subdivision of Division I athletics) record by advancing to the "Final Four" of the I-AA Tournament for six consecutive seasons.
Marshall has gone to nine bowl games in I-A, posting a 6–3 record, and the Herd finished No. 10 in the nation in 1999 in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll when MU was 13–0. They knocked off No. 25-ranked BYU in the 1999 Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan, 21–3 to complete the second perfect season in four years (15–0 for 1996's I-AA Championship team, rated the best-ever in I-AA with stars like Randy Moss, Erik Kresser, Doug Chapman, Erik Thomas, Tim Martin, Billy Lyon, B.J. Cohen, Larry McCloud, Melvin Cunningham, William Hosaflook and many others).
Marshall Thundering Herd Basketball is led by head coach Tom Herrion. Coach Herrion takes over a team with 23 wins in regular season play of 2009 that advanced to post season play by participating in the collegeinsiders.com tournament.
Former legendary head coach Cam Henderson is acknowledged as the creator of the modern fast-break and zone defense. He compiled 358 wins to 158 losses between 1935–1955. Henderson led Marshall to three consecutive Buckeye Conference titles from 1936–39, but his greatest team was the 1946–47 team. They set a Marshall school record with 32 wins in a season; a 17–0 start to the season; a 35-game home winning streak; and won the National Championship in the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball (today's NAIA) in Kansas City in 1947, sweeping five games in six days. Marshall also played in the NAIB Tournament in 1938 and 1948, losing in the quarterfinals. His 1947–48 team won the Helms Foundation Los Angeles Invitational with a 46–44 win over Syracuse, the same year Henderson coached the Marshall football team to the second-ever Tangerine Bowl.
Andy Tonkovich, who played on that team, was the First Draft pick of the 1948 NBA Draft by Providence. Center Charlie Slack set a still NCAA record of 25.6 rebounds per game for Henderson's final team in 1954–55. Tonkovich, Gene "Goose" James, Bill Hall were First Team NAIB All-Americans in 1947, joined by Bill Toothman on the second team and Marvin Gutshall on honorable mention, meaning all five starters were on the All-American team. Tonkovich repeated on the second team in 1948. Walt Walowac was a first team Helms Foundation Small College All-American for Henderson in 1953, and was third team on the Helms squad in 1954.
Henderson recorded wins over such marquee programs as Syracuse, Virginia, Memphis, Virginia Tech, Pepperdine, Xavier, Dayton, Louisville (No. 19 in the nation in 1950, a 96–72 Marshall win), Indiana State (Henderson was 2–1 versus John Wooden, when the UCLA legend was coaching the Sycamores), BYU, Idaho, Hawaii, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Loyola, Maryland, Miami-Fla., Denver, St. Francis, Wichita State, Colorado, Cal, CCNY, Long Island Univ., South Carolina and St. Louis. His 1954–55 team was second in the Mid-American Conference, but was denied a berth in the NIT by the league (in the wake of the cheating scandals in New York and other college spots in the early 1950s).
Henderson's first basketball All-American, Jule Rivlin, led the 1955–56 Herd to its only MAC title and first-ever NCAA Tournament. Rivlin's 1958 Herd led the nation in scoring, with Hal Greer and Leo Byrd, scoring 88.1 points per game and topping the Jerry West-led Mountaineers of West Virginia University who averaged 88.0 points per game. Byrd was an All-American in 1959, first team on the Chuck Taylor/Converse team and second team on UPI and Helms Foundation. Henderson and Tonkovich are both members of the Helms Foundation NAIA Hall of Fame.
Marshall was coached to the NIT by Ellis Johnson (the first All-American for legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp) in 1967, advancing to the Final Four thanks in part to George Stone scoring 46 points versus Nebraska before his five-years in the ABA, and back in 1968 behind point guard Danny D'Antoni.
Carl Tacy coached the Herd to a 23–4 season in 1971–72, losing to Southwest Louisiana, 112–101 in the NCAA Tournament. Marshall was ranked at high at No. 8 in the nation that season, and finished 12th in the nation. Russell Lee was a Converse All-American in 1972, and was selected in the first round of the ABA Draft and second round by the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, playing for that team for a couple of seasons.
Bob Daniels was the Herd coach beginning in the 1972–73 season for the NIT appearance. Mike D'Antoni was the point guard for the NCAA Tournament team in 1972 and the NIT team in 1973, and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American both seasons and awarded an NCAA post-graduate scholarship. He was drafted by the Royals, played four seasons in the NBA before moving to greater glory in the Italian League, winning titles as a player and coach. Kobe Bryant wore No. 8 his first few seasons in the NBA because that's the number D'Antoni wore when he played with Kobe's father in Italy.
Rick Huckabay led Marshall to four Southern Conference titles, three NCAA Tournaments and an NIT berth from 1983–89. Skip Henderson and John Taft were both recruited by Huckabay and are one-two in scoring at Marshall all-time.
Marshall has advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times through the years. The Thundering Herd has also played in the NIT tournament in 1967-1968-1973-1988. Marshall won the NAIA title in 1947, and is 7–2 all-time in the first collegiate basketball tournament, one year older than the NIT and four years older than the NCAA Tournament.
Notable former Marshall basketball players include Hall of Famer Hal Greer and Mike D'Antoni, formerly of the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns (NBA Coach of the Year for 2004–05) and now the new head coach of the New York Knicks. Greer was named NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1968, one year after leading the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA title.
University of Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan coached the Thundering Herd from 1994–96. West Virginia native Jason Williams started his college career at Marshall after originally signing with Providence, being part of the Herd basketball team for two seasons (sitting out one as a transfer) for the Thundering Herd before transferring to Florida to play a season for Donovan. Donnie Jones was an assistant first for Dwight Freeman, then Donovan at Marshall and followed Donovan to UF as an assistant until taking the Marshall job in 2007 after the Gators won back-to-back NCAA Titles. Other assistants from the Florida/Marshall pipeline included Anthony Grant, who is head coach at VCU, and John Pelphrey, formerly head coach of South Alabama and current second-year head coach at Arkansas.
Keith Veney set an NCAA record with 15 three-pointers in Marshall's Henderson Center arena against Morehead State University on December 14, 1996, for new head coach Greg White, who was Marshall's point guard from 1977–81. White followed in the great Marshall tradition of outstanding players from the Mullens, W.Va., area including both Mike and Danny D'Antoni and their uncle, Andy D'Antoni, a Marshall quarterback for Henderson in 1938–40.
White's freshman team advanced to the school's first conference title game in 1978, falling to Furman in the title game under charismatic coach Stu Aberdeen. Bob Zuffelato took the Herd to the SC finals in 1979–80, falling again to Furman, after Aberdeen died during the summer of 1979 while on vacation. White's senior season saw Marshall post its first-ever win over West Virginia University at the Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. Marshall won the first game played in Huntington in 1982–83 and was 5–0 versus the Mountaineers in Huntington before the series moved permanently to the Charleston Civic Center in the state capital.
White coached his first Marshall team to its final SC Tournament title game in 1996–97, falling to UT-Chattanooga on a last-second stick-back. Marshall joined the Mid-American Conference for the second time in 1997–98, and the Herd was 21–9 in 1999–2000 under White, falling the MAC semi-finals to Miami, Ohio. Ron Jirsa coached Marshall from 2003–07 after White stepped down to become head coach at Division II University of Charleston (W.Va.), as well as a special assistant to the President of UC. He is currently overseeing a new basketball building for the Golden Eagles.
Marshall baseball, who won the Southern Conference in 1978 and 1981 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1973 and 1978, finished as runner-up in the 2008 C-USA Baseball Tournament, falling in the finals to Houston, 3–2, but winning a MU record 30 games without a home field to use in Huntington for the entire season (Marshall has played C-USA games at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park since joining the league in 2006). For the first time since 1994, MU had players drafted in the June 5–6 Major League Baseball Draft with a school-record three being selected, plus one recruit. Steve Blevins, who tied the single-season wins mark with a 9–3 mark, signed with the Minnesota Twins on June 11, while Nate Lape was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and Tommy Johnson by the Seattle Mariners. Lape and second baseman Adam Yeager are playing this summer in the Cape Cod League, the premier wooden bat summer college baseball league, for the Brewster Whitecaps.
Baseball at Marshall has long been handicapped by a lack of facilities, being the only sport at the university without a proper facility on or near campus.
Softball won 26 games behind four-time All-American Rachel Folden, who re-wrote the Marshall softball record books in home runs and RBI, and was again the C-USA Player of the Year. Folden joined her coach, Shonda Stanton, and two former Marshall players, Jessica and Amanda Williams, in the National Fast-Pitch League this summer. Marshall also sent three track athletes (Rachel Blankenship, Andrea Jackson and Teniqua Sutton), one diver (Siobhan Schuurman) and two tennis players (Kellie Schmitt and Karolina Soor) to the NCAA Regionals and Championships. Schmitt won for the first time in Marshall history in singles, Blakenship finished 15th in the shot, with her second-best throw of the year and Jackson was 20th in the triple jump.
The Thundering Herd women's volleyball team won the 2005 Conference USA regular season and tournament championships. In 2007, they again won the C-USA Regular Season title and featured four-time All-American Kelly-Anne Billingy, the three-time C-USA Player of the Year. Head coach Mitch Jacobs will set the all-time winning record for a volleyball coach at Marshall in the 2008 season. He also coached the team to the MAC Regular Season title in 2005.
Marshall's biggest rivalries out of conference are with Ohio University, Miami University and West Virginia University, while East Carolina University and University of Central Florida have been the biggest rivals in Conference USA so far. Tulane University and the Herd baseball team now seem to be bitter rivals as MU was 3–1–1 against the Green Wave in 2008, winning its first game ever back in April in New Orleans. Marshall returned to the "Big Easy" in May and knocked Tulane out of the C-USA Tournament on the Green Wave home field, Turchin Stadium, in the C-USA Tournament, 10–5 and 8–7. Yeager stole a league-record five bases against TU in the opening win, while Jeff Rowley scored the winning run in game two on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth.
Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Marshall plays football at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which seats 38,019. The stadium, which opened for the 1991 season as Marshall University Stadium with a then-record crowd of 33,116 for a 24–23 win over New Hampshire, hosted a record crowd of 41,382 on September 10, 2010, when the Thundering Herd played the in-state rival West Virginia Mountaineers. On a facade on the stadium's west side is a bronze memorial dedicated to the 1970 plane-crash victims.
In 2003, Marshall renamed its stadium, honoring a major donor, Joan C. Edwards to the university and its athletic program. The facility became the first football stadium in Division I-A to be named after a woman; Mrs. Edwards husband, James F. Edwards, has his name on the actual playing field.
Also in 2003, Marshall University, under much scrutiny, disbanded its men's track & field program, expressing financial concerns with the school's 2005 move from MAC to Conference USA. Since that time it has been demonstrated that men's track paid for itself due to the students paying for the majority of their schooling. In May 2007, the track on campus was closed to make way for the new recreation center, and since that time the women's track and field team has trained and competed without a track of its own.
Cam Henderson Center
Both men's and women's basketball are played at the 9,048-seat Cam Henderson Center, named for the innovative coach who guided the school's basketball team from 1935 to 1955 and football from 1935–49. Henderson is the coach who developed the fast break, the zone defense and even the "King Drill" warm-up made famous by the Harlem Globetrotters. Henderson won 358 games against just 158 losses as basketball coach. Henderson's 1946-47 team finished that season with a school-record 32-5 mark, and captured the 1947 NAIB (today's NAIA) National Championship in Kansas City, Kansas. In football, he coached the Herd to the Buckeye Conference title in 1937 and then to the second-ever Tangerine Bowl on Jan. 1, 1948, falling to Catawba College 7–0. Henderson won 68 games as football coach.
2012 Expansion Project
In 2012 MU announced a multi-step expansion project, contingent on fund raising. MU accepted ownership of the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse located five blocks from campus. The facility will be demolished and replaced by a soccer specific stadium. MU's current soccer facility, Sam Hood Field, will then be replaced by a $25 million indoor practice facility, track, and physical therapy research center. MU legends Chad Pennington and Mike D'Antoni are heading up fund raising for the effort.
- ^ "Marshall University Board of Governors votes unanimously to approve construction of student recreation center and two new residence halls", 2007, accessed February 02, 2011.
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