HUNTINGTON – For the first time in over 40 years, there are no meetings to attend, no players to recruit and no game plans to devise for Doc Holliday and the former Marshall football coach can only wonder why and what the future may hold.
“I’m not ready to jump back into anything right now or make any decisions. I’m just sitting back and taking my time and we’ll see where it all goes,” Holliday said Monday during an appearance on Metronews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval.
“You wake up everyday for 40 years you wake up every day and you’ve got to find a way to win. You’ve got to compete and every day you’ve got to work to get better as a coach and get your team better and suddenly it all ends, but that’s life.”
After 11 seasons as the head football coach at Marshall University, Holliday was informed last week that his contract was not being renewed. The news came two weeks after he had been named the Conference USA Coach of the Year for the second time. However, it also came on the heels of three consecutive losses to end the season, which included Marshall plummeting from being ranked 15th in the country as it lost both the C-USA Championship game and Camellia Bowl.
University President Dr. Jerome Gilbert he had consulted with Athletics Director Mike Hamrick before making the decision to let Holliday go but Holliday stated that Dr. Gilbert never explained to him why he was being let go.
“Dr. Gilbert has not spoken to me. I was told by Mike [Hamrick] that Dr. Gilbert had made that decision and I have no clue who he talked to. If you’re the president of the university, you can do what you want to do and I respect that. It’s really cut and dry. Dr. Gilbert made the decision that he wasn’t going to renew the contract.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 11, 2021
Holliday also refuted claims reported by Huntington Herald-Dispatch Columnist Chuck Landon that he had been given an ultimatum to either win the conference championship in 2020 or he would be out of a job.
“It will take about two seconds to fact check that and the answer is ‘no,’” said Holliday. “I can’t imagine any athletics director or president telling any coach during a pandemic, with everything we had to deal with, that you had to win a championship or you’re gone, that’s just unheard of to me. That’s just not the case. Whoever came out with that, that’s just not true.”
There was never a guarantee that Holliday would be retained beyond the 2020 season, no matter how the season ultimately played out. Holliday knew he was in the final year of his contract but did not spend time dwelling on what might happen after the season ended.
“I didn’t worry about. It is just part of the business. I’ve got no hard feelings toward Marshall at all. I’m just appreciative of the opportunity I had. I had 11 great years there. I’m proud of the way we did things. I feel like we did things the right way.”
Holliday’s teams produced 85 wins, six bowl victories and won the Conference USA Championship in 2014. He always welcomed the high expectations the fan base has for each season but cautioned that it’s important for the administration to have realistic expectations for the program.
“I walk out of there with zero regrets. Would I like to have won a lot more championships? Sure. We had the opportunity to play in three championship games. I hope the next guy who goes in there, whoever that is, and wins a championship every year. I think at this point, that’s a little unrealistic and hopefully the expectations aren’t for the next coach to win a championship every year.”
For Holliday, the future right now remains uncertain. Football coaches coach football and only time will tell if Holliday can find other avenues to fulfill the competitive impulse that has driven him for the last four decades. What is not in question, is that Holliday has been able to get up every day and do what he loves for a living and coach in his home state for nearly his entire career. For that, he will always be grateful.
“I love the people of West Virginia. Of the 40-plus years I coached, only eight of them have been out of state. I spent 30-plus years coaching at two universities in the state of West Virginia. It’s been great and I’ve been very fortunate to have that opportunity.”