July 10, 2012
HUNTINGTON - While our Marshall student-athletes and coaches already are preparing for 2012-13 this offseason, many of you in our growing Thundering Herd Nation will take to the road this summer.
I am asking that you also do that this fall ... go on the road with football's Thundering Herd.
Coach (Doc) Holliday's program is on the rise. His team is coming off a great finish to 2011, a bowl victory, and with even more promise in the future with such a young roster (only eight seniors).
They need our support, not only for home dates at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, but also in September in games at West Virginia and Purdue.
Marshall has great history and record of traveling to support the Herd, and I think that's been very beneficial in the growth and progress of Marshall Football over the last 20-some years.
Yes, the Friends of Coal Bowl series is ending Sept. 1 at WVU, and I've stated publicly several times that I think it is a good game for our state. However, at this point I don't know what the future might bring in a series with West Virginia ... but our fans still need to go on the road to support our teams.
The Herd goes to Purdue on Sept. 29. Purdue comes here, to open the season, on Sept. 5, 2015. How many Big Ten Conference teams has Marshall played home-and-home?
Zero ... and I think one of the reasons Purdue wanted to play us was their people felt our fans would travel to their stadium to watch us play.
I believe a factor in having the ability to continue schedule good football series -- the kind of opponents Herd fans want to see in Huntington -- is how your fans travel.
My point? If we're going to have the ability to schedule good people to come here, then we have to go on the road to their places, especially a Purdue, a Big Ten program.
The Boilermakers just don't go anywhere. Purdue could schedule anybody it wants because it is a Big Ten team, but it is coming here in a home-and-home arrangement with Marshall.
On future schedules, Purdue's only other non-conference home-and-homes are with Notre Dame and Cincinnati. Over a 10-year period, its only home-and-homes with programs that haven't been in the BCS conferences are with Marshall and Toledo.
We have to do our part and go there this season, to a Big Ten school (62,500-seat Ross-Ade Stadium), where there are no bad seats. I've been there, and West Lafayette, Ind., is only a little more than a 5-hour drive from Huntington.
Virginia Tech was another example of that. A couple of years ago, we took a huge crowd to Tech and we're going back there next year ... hopefully with a lot of Kelly Green and White helping fill Lane Stadium again.
We went to Louisville last season and there was very strong Marshall support. With the Herd fans in attendance in a frenzy, Coach Holliday's team got a very big win. We also helped U of L to its largest home crowd of the season (53,267).
One of the advantages in trying to schedule non-conference games down the road will be whether our fans help fill up opposing home stadiums. People are going to ask that about us, in an increasing fashion, as scheduling becomes even more crucial with the new FBS playoff system.
We go to Miami of Ohio in 2014 and 2018, and we're home (to Miami) in 2013 and 2017. One reason that series is back on the schedule is Marshall took thousands of fans to Oxford, Ohio, in our Mid-American Conference days. Our fans need to go there, like they have in the past. It's still a big rivalry.
Down the road, we have Navy, a storied program, in a home-and-home - two schools with significant football history. Annapolis, Md., is a great place to visit, and Navy has agreed to come here and the schools will play for the first time.
Bottom line, if our fans want to see the likes of Louisville, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Navy come to Edwards Stadium -- and on an equal basis -- we must travel to their places, too.
Marshall fans want to see good opponents and see them in Huntington. Well, the perception is that our fans travel. That's our history and we should be proud of it ... and we need to continue it now and down the road as Coach Holliday builds the program.
Football road games tickets (also for Conference USA games at Rice, Southern Miss, UAB and East Carolina) are available via the "Tickets" tab on HerdZone.com, by calling 1-800-THE-HERD, or by email at HerdTickets@marshall.edu. Or stop by the Henderson Center main lobby ticket office windows (Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.).
Have a good summer, and I'll see you this fall at a football road game ... and Let's Go Herd!!