By GARY FAUBER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The game won’t be played in Florida, but the Miltary Bowl will still provide a homecoming for a sizeable portion of Marshall’s roster.
Ten members of the Thundering Herd are from the Washington, D.C., area, where Marshall will be Christmas week for its second bowl appearance in the Doc Holliday era.
The game, against Maryland, will be played Dec. 27 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., but many of the weeklong festivities will be in the nation’s capital.
Leading rusher Essray Taliaferro and senior defensive lineman Alex Bazzie (Silver Spring, Md.) are among the Herd players who could have sizeable cheering sections at the game (2:30 p.m., ESPN).
Trips to Florida International and FAU afforded the more than 30 Florida natives on the Herd roster to see their families in the regular season.
“We have several kids from the state of Virginia, but this is a good opportunity,” said Holliday, now 26-24 in four seasons as Marshall’s head coach. “I think the team as a whole is excited to be able to play a team the caliber of Maryland.”
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Unlike the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Little Caesars Pizza or Belk bowls, the Military Bowl serves a purpose beyond corporate sponsorship.
According to the bowl’s website, “Funds raised from the bowl help thousands of military personnel and their families through the game’s partnership with the USO. Last year, the Military Bowl donated $100,000 to the organization and provided more than 5,000 game tickets for service members and their families.”
That donation will be met, if not exceeded, this year.
The chance to honor the nation’s veterans is an added attraction to the bowl atmosphere, agree Holliday and Maryland head coach Randy Edsall.
“It’s extremely important. Our veterans have done so much for us,” Holliday said. “I’ve had the privilege of playing games in that particular stadium, and there is not a better setting for college football than what that will be.”
“We’re excited to play Marshall University, but also to play a game that allows us to show our appreciation for all the military does,” added Edsall. “They have allowed us to be able to play this game.”
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Gift packages for players are a part of every bowl, and the Military Bowl is no different.
Marshall and Maryland players will receive Sony Playstation 4 systems, a winter hat and an Ogio backpack, according to a story in The Baltimore Sun. The NCAA limits gift packages to $550, but the Sun article attributed a quote from Sports Daily Business, “bowl committees and gift brokers can negotiate a lower rate on products because they are buying in bulk.”
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Marshall fans are urged to purchase tickets for the bowl through its ticket office. Tickets are $77 each and will allocated in priority point order for all orders placed before 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Seats are in the lower level of the stadium in sections 1-5 on the west side.
To purchase tickets, call 800-THE HERD, or go to HerdZone.com.
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The Marshall basketball program got some good news and some bad news Monday.
First, the good: Point guard Kareem Canty was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week for the second consecutive week.
Now, the bad: The team announced Monday that senior forward Elijah Pittman has been suspended indefinitely.
Marshall Athletics issued a brief statement: “Elijah Pittman has been suspended indefinitely from the men’s basketball program. The department will have no further comment on this matter.”
Pittman, the team’s leading scorer at 21.4 points per game, has been in trouble more than once. He was indicted on misdemeanor battery charges in August stemming from an October 2012 off-campus fight with a fellow student, and last month was ejected from the Herd’s win over Western Kentucky after receiving a flagrant-2 foul for hitting a Hilloppers player in the throat with his elbow.
Marshall (4-5) takes on West Virginia in the Capital Classic at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.