2015 Marshall Football Run to Spring Hill Cemetery
Coach John “Doc” Holliday, who has returned Marshall University football to the national picture, has guided the Thundering Herd to three consecutive seasons of 10 or more victories.
That run (2013-15, 33-8 record) stands alone among the 61 Group of Five conference programs. Only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Florida State have longer current streaks of 10-win seasons than the Herd.
Marshall has won five consecutive bowls – the current long streak in the FBS – with four of those triumphs coming under Holliday in the last five seasons. Marshall’s three straight 10-win seasons also are a first in the 20-season history of Conference USA football.
His 2015 Herd finished 10-3 with a win over Connecticut in the St. Petersburg Bowl. His 2014 and ’15 teams – with a combined mark of 23-4 – have the best record among the Group of Five programs in the two-year College Football Playoff era.
In Holliday’s six MU seasons – with a 50-28 record – he has built the Herd into a perennial Conference USA contender. His teams have sported 23 All-C-USA first team selections, 17 second-teamers, 32 honorable mention picks and 16 All-Freshman team selections. He has had nine players selected for C-USA’s top individual player-of-the-year awards. His last three teams have produced a 20-4 C-USA record.
Holliday’s 2014 Herd (13-1) grabbed the school’s first C-USA Championship with a thrilling comeback, title-game win over Louisiana Tech. MU headed to the Boca Raton Bowl, where it routed Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois, 52-23. The Herd finished the season in the major polls – No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 23 in the Associated Press media poll. It was Marshall’s first appearance in the final polls since 2002.
The Herd coach was named the 2014 Conference USA Coach of the Year in voting by his peers and Marshall boasted a C-USA-record 10 all-conference first team selections.
Holliday received a six-year contract extension (through July 2021) for $755,500 annually on April 8, 2015.
The 2014 title season followed a successful 2013, as Marshall went 10-4, won the C-USA East Division crown and downed ACC member Maryland in the Military Bowl -- the Terps’ last game before heading to the Big Ten.
In December 2014, Holliday was named the 15th annual Gazette-Mail Sportsman of the Year by Charleston Newspapers. In April 2015, the Herd coach was honored as the 2014 Lowell Cade Sportsperson of the Year by The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch.
And in concert with Herd Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, Holliday has helped bring about upgrades in the Marshall non-conference schedule, with home-and-homes against Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina State, Purdue, Navy, Boise State, Cincinnati, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Akron and Ohio.
Holliday, named as Herd coach on Dec. 17, 2009 in his first collegiate head coaching job, is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the nation. Since he has become a head coach, he has added a reputation for finding and hiring assistant coaches who have made a strong impact on his program. He has more than 30 years of collegiate coaching experience, including previous stops at Florida, North Carolina State and West Virginia, his alma mater.
During his time in Huntington, Holliday’s teams have consistently improved as the season stretches into the winter months. The Herd is 24-8 under Holliday after Oct. 29 on the calendar, including an eye-popping 14-1 mark in the friendly confines of Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
In 2011, the Herd went 7-6 against the 16th-toughest schedule in the nation, a slate that was ranked second among non-BCS schools. Two of those victories came against eventual C-USA champion Southern Miss and Big East co-champ Louisville, the latter coming on the road for the program’s first non-conference road win since the early 2000s. Marshall also won five Conference USA games, the most for the program since it had joined the league in 2005.
During his coaching career, Holliday has coached in 25 bowl games, three national championship games and coached 15 players who have gone on to the NFL. He also has coached five All-Americans.
A native of Hurricane, W.Va., Holliday was born April 21, 1957. He was a three-year letter winner as a linebacker at West Virginia (1976-78) and has earned bachelor’s (1979) and master’s (1981) degrees from WVU. He won a West Virginia state wrestling title at 175 pounds (all divisions) in 1975 at Hurricane High.
Holliday and his wife, Diana, have four children -- Meghan, Cade, Chase and Cody.