Sonny Randle Celebration Weekend Will Tribute Legendary Coach
Former Marshall players set to return to honor man who helped rebuild football program
Big Green Scholarship Foundation
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Sonny Randle, Marshall’s head football coach from 1979-83, was affectionately referred to as “The Man” by his players.
On Saturday, Oct. 14 – when Marshall hosts Old Dominion at 2:30 p.m. – their man will be honored as part of a two-day tribute on Sonny Randle Celebration Weekend. Randle died May 24 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at the age of 81.
The celebration will include a private social on Friday evening. Saturday will feature a pre-game tailgate and on-field presentation when the Thundering Herd faces the Monarchs.
Randle compiled a 12-42-1 record in five seasons at Marshall. The year after Randle’s departure featured the program’s first winning season since 1964, and was the first of 20 consecutive winning seasons. Marshall was the Division I-AA runner-up in 1987, with players Randle helped recruit, and advanced to the national championship in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1996. The Herd won the title in ’92 and ’96, the former under coach Jim Donnan and the latter coach Bob Pruett, who was once an assistant under Randle.
“You have to acknowledge that success has to have a foundation,” said Carl Lee, who was recruited to Marshall by Randle and played four seasons under him. “It had to be built somewhere. Somebody had to start it. Somebody had to turn the corner. Sonny Randle is due. It’s time to own it. He was the only coach at the time who could do the things he did to give Marshall the foundation to where the program needed to go.
“We’ve waited long enough and we’ve celebrated what we’ve achieved, but it’s time to say ‘Thank you’ for the foundation of it all. He is due, his family is due and Huntington is ready for it.”
Randle left his fingerprints all over the Marshall program, and the improvement was steady under his leadership. Marshall did not win a conference game during Randle’s first two seasons, but finished 1-5 in the Southern Conference in 1981, 1-6 in 1982 and 3-4 in 1983. The Herd was 3-3 in Randle’s final six games as coach, and the program continued that momentum the next season under Stan Parrish.
“I can’t applaud Marshall and Athletic Director Mike Hamrick enough for honoring Sonny Randle,” said Steve Stoll, who played for Randle. “It’d be very easy for this to be nothing more than a footnote, but to honor Sonny Randle like this – I get chills. I get chills thinking about the pride ‘The Man’ must be feeling looking down knowing he’s thought of like this and how much he is appreciated.
“I can’t say enough about this whole weekend. It is class beyond class, in my humble opinion.”