April 2, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall is in the market for a men’s basketball coach, and once Athletic Director Mike Hamrick makes the new hire, there is one thing the Herd won’t need.
It’s a schedule.
The 2014-15 schedule is all but complete already, thanks in large part to home-and-home contracts Marshall was able to land last year with schools from the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences.
It’s a rarity for Marshall to have two of those games at home in the same season, but Penn State and South Carolina are scheduled to finish two-game contracts with Henderson Center visits next season.
“Our fans should be really excited about the teams we have coming to the Henderson Center next season,” said Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick. “We have a good mix of power conference teams, a rivalry with Morehead State and an increase in Conference USA games on the schedule.”
The return dates with the Nittany Lions and Gamecocks will be among a potential 17 home games for the Herd.
“This might be the most attractive home schedule we’ve had in a long time,” said Jeff O’Malley, MU’s associate athletic director/chief of staff who coordinates men’s basketball scheduling and oversees the program on the administrative level.
The last time Marshall had a home schedule with two power conference schools was in 1990-91, when 19th-ranked Virginia (ACC) and Virginia Tech played in “The Cam.” The Hokies were then in the Metro Conference with Louisville, Memphis State, Cincinnati, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Florida State and Tulane.
That same season also marked the last time the Marshall-West Virginia game was played on one of the campuses – a 97-80 Herd triumph in the Henderson Center.
The game moved to Charleston the next season and has been played at the Civic Center since … as it will be next season on Dec. 14, in a late Sunday afternoon tipoff.
Marshall also will play four games in the Global Sports Showcase, including a Nov. 21 marquee date with Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center. The other three games in the NCAA “exempt” Global event are home games with Jacksonville State, Savannah State and Cleveland State.
The Jacksonville State date is the season opener, on Nov. 14, with Savannah State visiting two days later.
The Cleveland State game is set Nov. 28 – Thanksgiving Friday – providing Herd fans with the chance for a day-night, football-hoops doubleheader. Coach Doc Holliday’s team faces Western Kentucky at Edwards Stadium that day.
Marshall also will have a Nov. 26 home game against Morehead State, the third meeting in a four-game contract. Two other non-conference games are yet to be scheduled, and O’Malley said the expectation is that those will be Herd home dates in no-return “guarantee” games.
There will be more Conference USA play at the Henderson Center, too.
The league moves from 16 to 14 members with East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa exiting, while Western Kentucky comes aboard. The conference schedule expands from 16 to 18 games, giving Marshall nine home league dates.
The C-USA scheduling format remains in the works.
In addition to the date at Louisville – that one is part of the deal Marshall worked with the Cardinals when they requested a football trip to Edwards Stadium be pushed back from 2014 to 2016 – Herd hoops has three other non-conference road dates set.
Marshall will return a home game from 2012-13 to Nevada on Dec. 20, then travel from Reno to Jonesboro, Ark., for a game at Arkansas State on Dec. 22. ASU won this season at the Henderson Center.
The Herd will go to Akron on Dec. 30. That’s the third game in a four-game contract, with the final game scheduled for the Henderson Center in 2015-16.
It’s a challenging and attractive schedule that the Herd can sell to those prospective coaching candidates, too.