If Doc ain’t happy, no one’s happy

March 31, 2015 by Derek Redd

It might not be the best audio because of the wind, but allow me to transcribe that first statement from Doc Holliday.

That’s not the standard or the expectation we have of the way we practice around here to get to where we want to go. That just doesn’t happen around here. I thought it was awful. There was no leadership. We did a poor job coaching them up and it’s obvious we didn’t play very well.

You wanna know something I never heard last season? Any evaluation like that of the 2014 Herd football team. Now, even the best teams’ coaches will, every once in a while, come up to the media scrum and read their team the riot act. They just do it to give the players a kick in the pants and remind them of the intensity necessary on the practice field. Holliday would end every practice last season talking about how much better they got from the day before.

And, to be honest, Tuesday wasn’t the most finely tuned practice I’ve seen from this team. But, if you’re gonna have a clunker, you might as well have it in the spring.

Check later tonight on charlestondailymail.com or in Wednesday’s print edition for a feature on new tight end coach Todd Goebbel, a man who is juggling a lot of jobs in his return to Huntington.

 

Want more C-USA bowls? You might get ‘em!

March 30, 2015 by Derek Redd

For all you folks who love everything about bowl season, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy has some news for you …

I’ve had friends who worked in Tucson, and they quite enjoyed it. Plus, dry heat in December is OK with me. Not exactly sure how well a bowl in Arkansas would go over, but, hey, there are three bowls in Alabama right now. Some people groan over the number of bowl games now on the docket, but it doesn’t bother me that much. These games on the middle to lower end of the spectrum are exhibitions, nothing more, nothing less. And if 6-6 gets you into a bowl game, you might as well get every 6-6 team into one. That way, a team with a nice story, like UAB last year, can have the experience the Blazers didn’t because 6-6 Illinois had to make a bowl. What made me scratch my head, though, was this little nugget …

OK, I’m all for expanding the brand of college football. But international expansion is risky. Logistical snafus — like Western Kentucky’s water and Gatorade not arriving for its first Bahamas Bowl practice – can occur. And the more remote the destination, the less interested media outlets might be in footing the bill to cover it. My plea to the bowl-makers: If you want to go international, make sure the plan is perfect.

Marshall’s hoops recruiting budget near top of C-USA

March 30, 2015 by Derek Redd

A recent USA Today study on college basketball recruiting budgets showed that, compared to the rest of the league from 2009-13, Marshall was looking down on nearly every other school in terms of dollar figures. Exactly how does the Herd stack up? Find out below in the five-year averages …

UTEP — $155,529

Marshall — $90,762

UTSA — $90,500

East Carolina — $85,177

Old Dominion — $84,241

Southern Miss — $82,191

FIU — $69,667

MTSU — $66,705

UAB — $60,297

FAU — $57,917

North Texas — $54,976

Louisiana Tech — $46,176

A couple of notes: The Herd’s 2012-13 recruiting budget of $86,157 was slightly smaller than the five-year average. Of the listed teams, only ODU has multiple NCAA berths. And did you see who was dead last on the list? Louisiana Tech, which averaged 19.2 wins in that five-year span, and 28 wins in the two seasons after that span, which were built on the recruiting work done in those five years. Sean Isabella from the News-Star in Monroe, La., details how the Bulldogs get so much bang for their buck.

 

Herd hoops heads to Rocky Top

March 28, 2015 by Derek Redd

Marshall’s men’s basketball team will make the trek to Tennessee next season. A source confirmed to the Daily Mail that the Thundering Herd will visit the Volunteers. The Herald-Dispatch first reported the upcoming game. The source told the Daily Mail this will be a one-game deal, as opposed to the home-and-home deals Marshall just completed with South Carolina and Penn State.

That’s a solid game for the Herd. The Vols went 16-16 last season with wins over Butler and Arkansas. Marshall knows its way around the SEC. The Herd played South Carolina this past season, Vanderbilt and South Carolina in 2013-14 and Kentucky in 2012-13.

Marshall won’t, however, get another shot at Donnie Tyndall, who the Herd played against when he coached Morehead State and Southern Mississippi. Tyndall was fired this week because of his connection with an NCAA investigation at Southern Miss into potential violations there.

Marshall Spring Practice, Day 3: Post-practice stuff

March 28, 2015 by Derek Redd

The Herd finally put on some pads for the first time this spring, which allowed new tight end Emanuel Byrd to stand out. Not only did he blow through linebackers during blocking/tackling drills, but had a nice long reception during 11-on-11 time. Stew Butler, all 192 pounds of him, had a long touchdown run in those drills, too.

The Herd was back in the indoor facility on a chilly Saturday morning, and it looks like Marshall will get its use out of that building for cold and rainy weather. After all, why practice in inclement weather in the spring if you don’t have to?

Now that pads are on, we’ll be able to get a better idea of how some guys are doing. I think it really will help us see how the quarterbacks are progressing now that they’re dealing with full-speed defenders. Check back here later this spring session for some thoughts on that. Also, be on the lookout for stories this week on Marshall’s outside receivers, who accepted the challenge Doc Holliday put in front of them last year, and the bulkier Stew Butler.

Chris Huhn decides his playing days are over

March 27, 2015 by Derek Redd

Marshall offensive lineman Chris Huhn posted Friday on his Twitter feed that, due to concussions, his playing days were done.

Huhn, a rising redshirt sophomore, played 45 snaps last season in a reserve role with one knockdown block. We’re seeing these decisions made more and more these days in both college and pro football. San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland recently retired at age 24 over brain injury concerns. Concussions ended former WVU quarterback Clint Trickett’s career, former Michigan center Jack Miller ended his career due to concussions, and it played a part in Vanderbilt QB Patton Robinette’s decision to end his football career to focus on med school.

That has to be a tough decision for a player that young during a time they often feel invincible. But a growing number of players are looking at long-term health over short-term glory. It’s a heck of a choice, but probably the right one. Good luck to him.

Tyndall tossed off Rocky Top

March 27, 2015 by Derek Redd

News coming out of Knoxville is that the Donnie Tyndall era for the University of Tennessee basketball team is over after one season. Multiple outlets are reporting the former Morehead State and Southern Miss coach has been fired.

The problem wasn’t anything at Tennessee, but at Southern Miss, where the NCAA had been investigating possible academic misconduct and improper financial aid to non-scholarship players. The NCAA apparently told Tennessee what punishments they were going to levy against Tyndall, which made him impossible to keep. There was a clause in his contract that allowed Tennessee to fire him for any Level I or II NCAA violations.

This isn’t the first time Tyndall and the NCAA had to chat. Morehead was placed on probation under Tyndall’s watch for recruiting violations. He told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press last April that he had learned from the incident, saying …

I learned from it, I grew from it and I certainly never expect to go through it again.

Oops.

My interaction with Tyndall was minimal. The Eagles played in Huntington just once under him since I’ve been on the beat, losing 88-84 in March 2013. That game was memorable for two reasons. For one, Marshall avenged a 102-46 loss in Hattiesburg earlier that season. And after that second game, when the Herd had engineered a 60-point turnaround from the first to the second contest, Tyndall blew off the post-game press conference.

That wasn’t a good look, but was nowhere near as bad a look as what’s going on in Knoxville.

Changes continue with Herd hoops roster

March 25, 2015 by Derek Redd

Marshall’s men’s basketball roster should look even more different next season than originally thought. Daily Mail sources confirmed Wednesday that juniors Tamron Manning and DeVince Boykins both are pursuing other options outside of the Herd program. The Herald-Dispatch had reported both were planning to transfer.

Manning started six games this season, while Boykins started two, though Manning was the only one of the two to start a game after Dec. 1. He started against Western Kentucky in the C-USA tournament after Justin Edmonds went down with a knee injury.

Boykins found a niche off the bench for Marshall this past season. When the cutting lanes were open, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Boykins, built like a strong safety, was no fun to meet at the rim. Manning got put into a tough position early, starting five games as a true freshman after DeAndre Kane broke his hand and missed time. And both guys are good dudes whose personalities and attitudes helped new coach Dan D’Antoni win fans back to the program.

But a look at a couple of numbers offers a glimpse at why playing time would be tough for them to find. One of the most important qualities a player needs in D’Antoni’s system is the ability to shoot. Manning shot 35.3 percent from the floor and 22.6 percent from 3-point range. Boykins was a more solid 46.6 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3, but shot just 35.1 percent from the free throw line. That kind of negates your efficacy driving to the hoop when you can’t turn fouls into points.

Again, they’re two stand-up guys who hopefully can find a home somewhere they can get decent playing time.

Price is right for Charlotte

March 25, 2015 by Derek Redd

News coming out of Charlotte is that former NBA star guard and current Charlotte Hornets assistant Mark Price will be the 49ers new men’s basketball coach. Price replaces Alan Major, who agreed with Charlotte that he step down. Price spent a short time as an assistant at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, and has been an assistant with the Nuggets, Hawks, Warriors, Magic and Hornets. He also spent short tenures as head coach in high school and Australian pro leagues.

Hmmm … veteran NBA assistant, limited college coaching experience, head coach at lower levels. Where have I seen that before?

Oh, that's right.

Oh, that’s right.

Five games to watch, from a different point of view

March 24, 2015 by Derek Redd

The Orlando Sentinel recently listed five Conference USA games to watch and let’s just say the list is … not how I’d go with it.

The Sentinel’s five includes two games involving C-USA newcomer Charlotte and the Shula Bowl between FAU and FIU. So the five games that everyone should note includes a first-year team that couldn’t go .500 last year with an FCS schedule and two teams who have combined for a grand total of 14 wins over the two seasons they’ve been in the conference (that’s an average of 3.5 wins per team per season)?

As Jules Winnfield once said in “Pulp Fiction,” allow me to retort … with five of my own.

Sept. 12 — Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky — The reigning C-USA West Division champ visits the team that knocked Marshall from the summit of the undefeated on the final weekend of the 2014 regular season for a very early conference clash. This might be a score-a-rama, considering WKU returns stat monster QB Brandon Doughty and the Bulldogs bring back RB Kenneth Dixon and might have Florida transfer Jeff Driskel under center. If the Hilltoppers can knock off Vanderbilt the week before and LaTech in this game, that post-Thanksgiving brawl between Marshall and WKU could become even juicier.

Oct. 10 — Rice at Florida Atlantic — Some consider the Boca Raton-based Owls a sleeping giant. They lost four games last season by a field goal or less and should be pretty salty again in 2015. They’ll get the Houston-based Owls the week after they feasted on Charlotte and the week before they host Marshall. This game will be their first true conference test.

Oct. 31 — Louisiana Tech at Rice — Here’s a spot where the Sentinel and I agree. This game decided the West Division last year and, surveying the competition on that side of the conference, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t decide the West this year. The Owls are probably itching for another shot at the Bulldogs, considering LaTech hung 76 points on Rice in 2014.

Nov. 7 — Marshall at Middle Tennessee — The Blue Raiders fancied themselves as a pretty tough group of guys last year. Then the Thundering Herd kicked them in the teeth in a 49-24 Marshall win in Huntington. Much like Rice versus Louisiana Tech, you can bet MT wants a crack at Marshall in Murfreesboro. That one could be a slugfest.

Nov. 28 — Marshall at Western Kentucky — The Sentinel and I also agree here and, frankly, if either one of us dissented, we’d need our heads examined. Last year’s game was the wildest in C-USA, perhaps in its history. It included 91 first-half points, 933 passing yards and 15 passing touchdowns between Doughty and Marshall’s Rakeem Cato and WKU coach Jeff Brohm’s gutsy call to go for two in the first overtime. That decision gave WKU a 67-66 win, ended Marshall’s undefeated streak and ripped the Herd from the access-bowl conversation. To say that Marshall wants revenge is an understatement. To say the ‘Toppers would love to tussle with the Herd in Bowling Green would be as well. This game could decide the East, decide the conference and, depending on how these teams enter the weekend, decide an access bowl spot.