HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—As is often the case in life, sometimes you have to lose something to realize how special it is. That is the case with a brass bell that has not graced the halls of the Shewey Building in three years.
“When I first got here nobody knew about the bell really, everybody was like ‘Bell? What bell?’” admitted senior Chris Jasperse. “And then when we got it taken away, we knew what the bell was from there and we want to bring it back to Huntington and keep it here for a while.”
When Jasperse first arrived on campus, Marshall and Ohio had not played on a regular basis since 2004 when Marshall was in the Mid-American Conference. The Battle for the Bell, the travelling trophy that goes to the winner of the Marshall vs. Ohio game, had not been much of a battle when the series went on hiatus following the 2004 season. From 1997 to 2004, Marshall won eight of nine matchups with the Bobcats and it was just expected the bell would be in Huntington.
However, since the series resumed in 2010 Ohio has won three of the four contests and now most of Marshall’s roster doesn’t know how it feels to have possession of the bell.
“I haven’t since I’ve been here. Almost everybody hasn’t had it since they’ve been here,” said tackle Clint Van Horn
Marshall’s last win in the series with Ohio came in 2010, a 24-23 victory that came down to an incomplete pass on a two-point conversion that would have given the Bobcats the win. Incidentally it was Doc Holliday’s first win as Marshall’s head coach. Sixth year senior James Rouse is has tried to convey that feeling to the current roster.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys who don’t know the history between the two teams and they probably won’t understand it till the lights come on and see this is a true rivalry game,” said Rouse.
“It was a close game throughout the whole game. The atmosphere, the crowd, you remember those things,” Rouse recalled about the 2010 win over Ohio. “I remember the Little Caesar’s Bowl when we played them and how that atmosphere was.”
Rouse is the only player on the team who can claim he has been part of two wins over the Bobcats.
Redshirt-sophomore Corey Tindal has never beaten Ohio but after witnesses the Bobcats’ reaction to winning the bell and interacting with Herd fans has learned why the game has so much meaning.
“The fans, it’s going to be an intense game and they want that bell back. I’ve got a good feeling about what is going on,” said Tindal.
For three straight years Marshall has seen Ohio storm the field and celebrate unlike any other win during the season.
“They’re going to play a championship game,” said receiver Tommy Shuler. “They feel like this is their championship when they play Marshall.”
When the series with Ohio resumed Marshall players did not understand what it meant to win but they have learned how it feels to lose it.
Only by losing the bell has Marshall realized just how special it is.