OPINION: Doc on Louisville’s list?


HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—With success comes new opportunities.  That’s just how the world of college football works.  When Marshall’s offense exploded during the 2012 season, Tony Petersen was plucked away by Louisiana Tech to hopefully bring the same offensive success to Ruston.

Current offensive coordinator Bill Legg is candidate for the head coach position at Eastern Illinois, no doubt thanks to The Herd’s 42 points per game and offensive prowess the last two seasons.

Could the man who leads the entire program now be a target for a new gig?  Doc Holliday’s name been tossed out there by some as a possible successor to Charlie Strong who has moved to head up the University of Texas.  Why wouldn’t he be at least be considered as Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich compiles his list of potential candidates?

Holliday is 27-24 in four seasons, with a Conference USA Championship appearance and two bowl wins to his credit.  In the last two seasons, Marshall has averaged 41.6 points per game, the highest over any two-year span in school history.  It has averaged 516 yards of total offense per game.  It’s the most prolific two-year stretch on offense ever in both yardage and points for The Herd.   Marshall has gone from barely competing in C-USA to playing for the league title, due to the players and coaches that Holliday has brought in.

Holliday is a proven recruiter, with a strong pipeline in the state of Florida, and has been able to draw high level talent to Marshall (Rakeem Cato, Tommy Shuler and others), who have been key reasons why Marshall’s program is on the upswing.  He is also a great evaluator when it comes to coaches.  Holliday hired seven new assistants coming into the 2013 seasons, none more important than defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, who led the defense’s turnaround.

When he was hired, Holliday had been a career assistant and there was a stigma that there must be a reason he’d never been given the chance to be a head coach.  The results over the last four years should shed that stigma.

Louisville is a very attractive job for any coach.  It’s moving into the ACC, it has beautiful facilities and nearly unlimited pockets with big time donors such as John Schantter (Papa John’s) ready to write checks win necessary. Not to mention, Charlie Strong’s base salary was $3.7 million at Louisville.  Holliday’s base salary at Marshall is $600,000.

Director of Athletics at Louisville Tom Jurich probably already has his short list of candidates prepared and is putting out feelers to gage their interest.  If Louisville does reach out to Holliday, no one would blame him if he talks with Louisville.  Holliday’s buyout is only $1.8 million with his contract running through the 2016 season.  Whether or not he is offered the job is a totally different story.

If Marshall continues to its success next season interests from bigger schools with deeper pockets will eventually start to roll in for Holliday.

Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick has said he wants to rework Holliday’s contract and increase his salary.  Those negotiations may take on more urgency if Holliday’s name comes up for the Cardinals’ job.

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