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Marshall Names Doc Holliday Head Football Coach

Dec. 17, 2009

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick introduced John "Doc" Holliday as the Thundering Herd's 29th head football coach Thursday.

Holliday, a Hurricane W.Va. native, is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the nation and he brings with him 31 years of collegiate coaching experience to Marshall that includes stops at Florida, N.C. State and West Virginia.

"This was an extensive search. I looked at a lot of head coaches, coordinators and others and I could not convince myself of anyone that was better for this job than Doc Holliday," Hamrick said. "He is a state native that understands and has a passion for this state and I am excited to have him as our head football coach."

During his coaching career, Holliday has coached in 20 bowl games, three national championship games and coached 11 players that have gone on to the National Football League. He has also coached four All-Americans and 16 student-athletes that have earned all-conference or All-East honors.

"My ultimate goal has always been to be a Division I head football coach at a major university and to have this opportunity at Marshall, a school rich in tradition and full of potential, is a dream come true," Holliday said.

Holliday comes to Marshall after serving as associate head coach at West Virginia for the past two seasons where he also served as the director of recruiting while coaching tight ends and fullbacks for the Mountaineers. has named him one of the Top 25 recruiters in the nation and he helped WVU amass a 2009 recruiting class that was nationally ranked No. 22 by and No. 27 by

Prior to that, he worked as the associate head coach and safeties coach at the University of Florida from 2005 to 2007 and as the associate head coach and wide receivers coach at North Carolina State University from 2000-04.



"I wish to extend my sincere congratulations to Coach Doc Holliday, his wife Diana and his family on becoming the Head Football Coach at Marshall University," Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer said. "Coach Holliday was an integral part of our staff for three years including the 2006 BCS National Championship and his son Cade has been an outstanding part of our team for the past five years."

During his tenure at Florida, the Gators won the 2006 National Championship and the UF secondary led the SEC in interceptions in both 2005 and 2006. He also coached two All-SEC standouts Reggie Nelson and Major Wright. At N.C. State, he coached three of the top eight receivers in Wolfpack history (Koren Robinson, Bryan Peterson and Jerricho Cotchery) and the 2003 N.C. State team set six different school-records for passing including yards, yards per game, passing touchdowns and completion percentage.

He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1979 and went on to serve in a variety of coaching positions at his alma mater that included serving as the wide receivers coach from 1983-1989 and again from 1993-1999, the inside linebackers coach from 1990-92 and as the assistant head coach from 1995-99.

Holliday was a three-year letter-winner at linebacker at West Virginia (1976-78) and has earned both a bachelor's degree (1979) and a master's degree (1981) from WVU. He and his wife Diana have four children - Meghan, Cade, Chase and Cody.

Press Conference Transcript
Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009

Marshall University Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick
Good afternoon and thanks for coming. It's a great day to be a part of the Thundering Herd. Nineteen days ago we started a search for a new head football coach here at Marshall University. Probably the most important position in our athletic program is our head football coach. We didn't take that lightly, we spent a lot of time, we put a lot of effort into it and we talked to a lot of people. It is a very, very critical hire for our program. We all know that. I know that. In this search I didn't get caught up in formulas or titles. I got caught up in who is the best person to come into this program at this time and shake it up. Shake our fan base up, shake this stadium up and shake our opponents up. And I think we found that person.

This search confirmed one thing, that this is a great football job. I found that out real quick. This is a great college football coaching job. We have an incredible past here, we have a history of coaches that have left this program and they have left it in great shape. After the 1970 plane crash, I'm not sure any other program in America could have done what our football program has done. But that's what makes Marshall University special, that's what makes this football program special, what has transpired since 1970 and that means a great deal to me, that means a great deal to many people in this room and I believe it means a great deal to our next football coach here at Marshall University.

There were no formulas, we weren't interested in titles, we weren't interested in where people were from, where they've been. We were interested in the best possible football coach at Marshall University. And people I'm here to tell you that it's time for all of us to put our egos at the doors to put our agendas at the door and pull together and take this program to the level that we need it to be. It's time!

I've known our next head coach for about 30 years. That's pretty extensive research. He still won't admit that when I was playing at Herbert Hoover and he was playing at Hurricane he never beat us. We'll pull those archives out later. He's a state native. He's a West Virginian...he's a West Virginian you need to understand that. He's from Hurricane, right down the road. He wants to be a part of us, we've talked long, long about "Doc" joining the Marshall family and what this family means to our university. He understands that. He knows that. He left the best assistant coaching job in the country to come to Marshall University. He has a loving passion for this state. He has made an incredible impact at the programs where he's coached...WVU, N.C. State, and Florida.

Now if you're concerned about titles and responsibilities, I'm not sure there is any better title than the associate head coach at the University of Florida where you won a National Championship. I'm not sure you can get better than that as a title, unless you're the head football coach at the University of Florida but Urban wouldn't return my calls. I want to make that real clear, he would return them to talk about "Doc" but he wouldn't return them to talk about the job. But, I'm excited and I hope and I pray that everybody leaves this room excited.

This is my university, this is your university, this is our university. This is a big hire, this is a gutsy hire, this is a different hire, this is a unique hire but I believe that's what we needed at this time in the history of our football program. It is at a critical stage. We need players, we need coaches, we need administrative support, we need your support.

There are a lot of great football players that have played at this university. And all the teams that had all the great success, my hat's off to you. I didn't have an opportunity to play on successful Marshall teams in the 70's, it was tough. But there is some great teams that have played here and there is some great players. And our coach wants to be part of that. He wants to be one of us and I'm excited to hire him. And I believe great things are going to happen. Because if I have to spend 24 hours a day to help this guy make that happen, I'm going to do that. Because I believe he is committed.

Again he left a great position to come here and join us, so without any further ado, it is my great pleasure and my honor to introduce the next football coach at Marshall University, John "Doc" Holliday.

Doc Holliday

Thanks Mike. There are a bit more people here than there were at the Hoover football games when we played you, don't you think?

You know it's hard for me to sit up here, but for 25 years I've been wanting this opportunity. I put my whole life into being a head football coach at a major just don't know how proud I am to be your head football coach.

I just would like to thank Dr. Kopp and Mike for trusting me to be your coach and I can guarantee you that there won't be a coach in the country that is going to work as hard as I am to get this program where you want it and where you deserve to have it.

I'd like to real quick, if I can, thank Urban Meyer who was a great influence on me along with Don Nehlen, but there's a guy in this room that had a greater influence on me than anyone in the world... Leon McCoy (long time Winfield High School Coach).

Let me tell you about this guy. I was a player at Hurricane High and he was at Winfield and I was going to work out with his team even though I played at Hurricane and he let me do that, that's just the kind of guy he was. And then I'd go back over to Hurricane and kick his butt and he'd never get mad. What he's done for high school football, a tremendous man this is right here. He means so much to me and for him to be sitting right here on a day like this and share this with me, means more than anything in the world to me.

Leon McCoy
John and I'd be in that weight room and we'd be sweating and stinking and working and kicking and so on and he'd look at me and he would say "coach one of these days I'm going do something that you're going to be proud of me for"...John I love you and I'm proud of you today.

Donnie [Jones] and I were neighbors when we were at Florida. We had the opportunity to share with each other when Urban and Billy Donovan and all of them won those three national titles. We're going work like hell together, I know what Urban and Billy D. did to win those titles and I know Donnie and I are going do the same here.

You know this program is a program that I've admired for a long time. You know growing up in Hurricane- just down the road - I saw how great it is and there are a lot of coaches that I'd like to thank. Number one I'd like to thank coach Pruett for what he did here in the 90's, Coach Donnan got this thing started and of course coach Synder for the incredible contributions he made to this program. I don't think people realize that during the 90's, what a great thing that was. This was the winningest program in college football and they won more games than anybody. I remember sitting back in Hurricane and up in Morgantown and just saying how in the world are they doing that down there and to have such great players like the Randy Moss's and Chad Pennington's and all that. I'd like to thank those guys for everything that they did for this program, they are special people and of course with Bob and Coach Donnan. First thing I'm going do is pick up the phone and call them and figure out how they did it because they can sure help me I guarantee you that.

I would also like to acknowledge all the outstanding players that contributed to the program. I don't want to name them because I'm sure I'll leave someone out, but you know who they are.

Also I remember the day I was down in Hurricane, it was in November of 1970, the day the plane went down. I remember we had a farm out there where I grew up. I could see the smoke from Hurricane and what a terrible tragedy that was, but what that young Thundering Herd did to get this program back, I mean nobody thought they'd ever come back...they did. The young Thundering Herd you have to give them a lot of credit and they built the foundation for what's going make this one of the better programs in the country. What they did was special and I just want to continue that, I really do.

I want you to understand this, this is not a stepping stone for me. It really isn't. I think this is a major Division I job that I want and I plan on being here. It is one of the top programs in the country and I'm blessed to be a part of it. I'm sure looking forward to the future and we're going to do a heck of a job to make it a program that you all can be proud of.

I played at West Virginia and a lot of people are making a big deal out of that, but I'm a West Virginian and I grew up 20 minutes down the road. I'm honored to be here and I realize that we have two great universities in this state. This is a special place and my vision one day is to make this place the greatest place in college football to play. I can't wait till there is 55,000 seats out there. I can't wait till that stadium's packed with great players. I have a dream that that's going to happen and I can't wait till it does. I can't wait to walk through that tailgate area out there next year with all those players arm in arm and we're ready to go out there and play that game while you guys are out there with a smile on your face and know that you have a football team that you're going be proud of. That makes me happy.

The style of play that I'm going play, we're going be very aggressive on offense, we're going be very aggressive on defense, everywhere I've been, we're going throw around a bit, we're going have a lot fun. The number one thing you have to understand guys is when you guys had Randy Moss and Chad Pennington and all those great players, you had great teams. One thing that I learned about Urban, I learned a lot of offense, I learned a lot of defense, but this is a player driven game. When you've got players you're a pretty damn good coach and when you don't you're not very good. Now with that being said, there's some daggone good players here right now. The thing that I have to do, number one is we have to get a good staff put together and hit the road running. We've got to get on the recruiting trail and we have to do a great job of getting some kids in here.

I just want to thank all of you guys for all your support. Really again I want to thank Dr. Kopp and Mike for giving me this opportunity and I guarantee, I don't know how many games this team is going to win but this team's going to play hard and they're going play with a lot of enthusiasm and its going to be a well coached team and never embarrass you or the community.

I promise you one thing I'm going to give you everything I've got to make all of you proud and to get this football program, where number one where you want it and where it deserves to be. Thanks a million, I just can't tell you how happy I am to be here and I promise you I won't be so emotional next time I am up here.