The Rise of the Herd: Marshall basking in the short stories beat Notre Dame | Sports

HUNTINGTON, W.V. (AP) – The path to one of Marshall’s greatest victories was forged by the combination of transfer gate talents, magic tricks, and a sophomore coach’s belief that the Sun Belt Conference team could be as good as any opponent, especially a storied giant like Notre Dame. .

Fifteen games in his Marshall career, Thundering Herd coach Charles Huff became the talk of college football With a win on Saturday 26-21 Over 20.5 points favorite Fighting Irish.

A swarm of fans, some in tears, greeted the Team Marshall bus as it returned to campus in Huntington on Saturday night. Hof replied to 350 text messages. New Marshall President Brad Smith, former CEO of software company Intuit, was congratulated by CEOs from across Silicon Valley.

It was Marshall’s second win over the Top Ten. The other also came on the road, in 2013 against No. 6 Kansas State.

The Notre Dame streak went 80 consecutive weeks in an Associated Press poll and 42 consecutive victories over unranked opponents.

“A great weekend,” Huff said. “Not just for the football team and our players, but for West Virginia and this community, everyone who bleeds. I also think it gives college football its shot, its thrust, its energy. I think that’s what college football is all about.”

And it’s still going on. The local newspaper, The Herald-Dispatch, is busy selling new editions of the Sunday front page that feature a picture titled “Shocker in South Bend.”

Page views on Marshall’s website around game time were more than three times what they were on a normal Saturday. Traffic on college admissions pages on Saturday and Monday has been higher than ever in the past few months.

After a visit Monday by Governor Jim Justice, himself a Marshall graduate, it was time to get back to work.

“Obviously we have to move on,” said midfielder Henri Colombe. “But it’s great to be able to think about what we’ve done. Our community is still very vibrant about it and I think it’s going to be that way for a while, when you have a big win like this in school history. So I think it’s great.”

On Tuesday, there was more electricity when Rashin Ali returned to the Marshall Clinic. One of the country’s top rookies a year ago when he rushed for 1,400 yards, Ali went on an undisclosed personal leave from the team before the season.

It is uncertain whether Ali will play when Marshall (2-0) travels to Bowling Green (0-2) on Saturday. When he does, it will add to the burden of concerns about opposing defenses. His replacement, Khalan LaBourne, finished ninth in FBS with 265 yards, nearly matching his entire production back when he was in Florida.

Another transfer that has paid immediate dividends is Columbian, who has played for Texas Tech in the past two years and leads the country in completion percentage at 85.1%.

Huff is on his first coaching job and is Marshall’s first black soccer coach. To know Hof means to understand that when he is not in the position to work in the field, he is kind. His laughter and smile are often contagious. Celebrates the great efforts made by his players.

During the last day of summer camp, Hof brought magician Karl Michael for a group bonding event. To say it was successful would be an understatement.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Colombe said. “I still think about it to this day.”

Michael was also dancing Huff for his players.

“He can dance better than me,” said Colombian.

The session turned out to be a good part of the season.

“If they had that energy that they had on Saturday for the magic show, we would have won by 50,” Huff said. “no doubt.”

In fact, this exhibition had a higher purpose.

“What you have to do is show the players that you are real,” Huff said. “This means that sometimes you have to be tough on them. It means that sometimes you have to put your arm around them. It means that you sometimes have to laugh and joke with them. In any organization, when you see that your leader is real, you have a deeper connection, and be You have a deeper understanding, and you have a deeper appreciation for everything that comes from there.”

Huff was an assistant coach and appearance coach under Nick Saban in Alabama. for him Recruitment at Marshall Corporation in January 2021 It came just a few weeks after Crimson Tide defeated Ohio State for the national championship.

After his appointment, Hof visited Huntington Cemetery where a memorial honors the victims The worst disaster in American sports history. This gave him an understanding of the community’s long-standing commitment and passion for a football program that all but disappeared when a 1970 plane crash killed 75 players, coaches, supporters and flight crew.

Smith, a university president who grew up near the crash site in nearby Kenova, cited a quote from Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry in describing Hof: “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has seen what you don’t want to see, so you can To be what you’ve always known.”

“The way I see him address our community, our university and every student-athlete as he sees who you are and who you are capable of being, he makes his life goal to connect these two,” Smith said.

Hof teaches his players to remain equal and prepare the same regardless of the opponent. When asked how he might protect Marshall from a potential disappointment at Bowling Green, Hoff’s response was direct and simple.

“Is their field 100 yards in 53 and thirds? Do they have goals?” Hoff replied. “If they get those two things, we’ll be fine.”

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