The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 31, 2012

Herd no longer playing for titles

BECKLEY — When Marshall’s football program was college’s winningest of the 1990s, borne from it was the mantra, “We Play for Championships.”

Unless you count bowl games involving pizza or dressed-up hamburgers, it’s been a while since the Thundering Herd sniffed a championship.

They haven’t competed for a Conference USA title since joining the league in 2005. They could have positioned themselves well Saturday, but a 54-17 loss to Central Florida pretty much took care of that.

It was an opportunity lost, and now the job for coach Doc Holliday is to make sure no one, players and fans alike, forgets the ultimate goal for the program.

“To get where we want to go we have to win games like,” Holliday said. “It's what Marshall University has to do to get this program to where our fan base wants it, where I want it and where everybody wants it. We all want to win championships. That's what it's all about.”

It would take a total meltdown of the UCF football team for Marshall to even have a chance at getting back its shot at the league championship. All the Herd can do now is keep winning, and that starts with Saturday’s non-televised home game with Memphis.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

Marshall (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) has won its last two bowl appearances, beating Ohio in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and Florida International in last year’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. For now, that’s what the team has to hang its hat on.

Last year’s 5-3 league record was Marshall’s best in C-USA. Winning out would improve that by a game.

“You have to win (big) games. We didn't do that,” Holliday said. “With that being said, this team still has a lot to play for. This team has four games left, and it can accomplish more than any (Marshall) team in this conference has ever done. You have the opportunity to go win six conference games. You have the opportunity to go participate in a bowl game. Who knows what's going to happen? Our kids have to understand there is a whole lot to play for.”

After Memphis (1-7, 1-3), the Herd has games remaining at UAB, versus Houston and at East Carolina. The ECU game presents the biggest challenge to running the table.

“We have to focus on Memphis,” Holliday said. “Take them one at a time and at the end of the year look up and see where we are. Are we disappointed? Yes. As a head coach, I'm disappointed, our kids are disappointed, and I'd be disappointed if our fanbase wasn't disappointed. I don't want to be anywhere that the fans don't care. There are places where that happens. I don't want to be the head coach at those places. I want to be head coach at places where the fans are upset because we don't win. I have no issue with that.

“Our goal right now is to work extremely hard to get prepared for Memphis and take them one at a time. We'll go play Memphis then worry about the next one.”

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com

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