Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

January 4, 2014

Poll: Marshall would have beaten WVU in football last fall

MORGANTOWN — Do you think Marshall University would have beaten West Virginia University had the two state rivals met in football last season?

The Wheeling Newspapers asked readers that question a week or so ago, and those who responded voted “yes” by 69 (to 31) percent. I would have guessed the margin might have been somewhat greater.

Marshall, under popular head coach John “Doc” Holliday, posted an impressive 10-4 record. That was capped with a 31-20 victory over Maryland in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md.

That was the same Maryland team that handed Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers their worst beating of the 2013 season in a 34-0 shutout.

Does this suggest that was the reason West Virginia suddenly dropped Marshall from last year’s football schedule?

The Thundering Herd, which wound up as runner-up in Conference USA, enjoyed one of its finest seasons. It’s really a shame Marshall was not on the football schedule, as it remains in both men’s and women’s basketball as well as in baseball.

The last time Marshall won as many as 10 games was in 2002 when Bob Pruett was the head coach.

WVU, as the college football world is aware, finished a deeply disappointing 4-8 last season. The school’s string of 12 consecutive bowl appearances was snapped as a result.

It’s only the fifth time in Mountaineer football history that a team suffered as many as eight losses.

In case you might be interested, I am not only a graduate of WVU, but took two courses at Marshall while working for The Associated Press at Huntington in 1942-43.

So this writer hereby takes upon himself to declare Marshall the clear-cut state champion of football for the State of West Virginia.

What’s more, I hope Doc Holliday will be elected as West Virginia College Coach of the Year. That honor goes to only one head coach in any sport annually.

Holliday, a native of Hurricane, W.Va., was an outstanding linebacker as a Mountaineer player in the late 1970s. Eventually, new head coach Don Nehlen hired him as an assistant coach in the 1980s-late 1990s.  

That turned out to be an historic hire.

Holliday became known as the “father” of what developed into WVU’s Florida recruiting lifeline.

The thought herein is that Doc Holliday is benefitting from that well-established “feed” himself now. Who could blame him?

Hopefully, Marshall will be returned to West Virginia’s football schedule eventually.

That series dates back to 1911 and Marshall has yet to win in a mere 12 games.

However, the 2010 Mountaineers required overtime to eke out a 24-21 victory at Huntington. There also was interest in some of the other meetings, too.

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MICKEY FURFARI