99 Days Until Kickoff

99 days until kickoff of the 2015 Football season for the Thundering Herd of Marshall. The Herd will take on Purdue. Today, Herdhaven begins a countdown to kickoff with an in depth look at the number 99 and how it relates to Marshall, then and now.

Football off seasons have to be some of the longest, toughest times for football fans across the country each year. Some fan bases are ready for a fresh start after a bad year, others are excited due to high expectations, and others are just pumped because they aren’t really sure. They think they are going to be good, but there is that since of excitement, wondering, just how good they could be.

That is where most fans stand in regards to the Marshall Thundering Herd. The Herd lost Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler from a potent offense, but returns a plethora of talent including Michael Birdsong and Hyleck Foster to replace those two superstars.

Today marks 99 days until the Sunday kickoff against Purdue. Let’s take a look at the number 99.

Some famous 99’s throughout Marshall History

Vinny Curry – Curry is probably the most famous Marshall player to wear the number 99. He epitomizes the Marshall football program and what it has used to build itself to where it is today. Many schools, and fans of schools like to knock on the Herd’s ability to use the academic non qualifier as a way to build a program. The story of Vinny Curry is the exact reason why this is a tool that is valuable for both the player and the school.

Curry came to Marshall as an academic non qualifier and spent the first year with fellow non qualifiers such as Brandon Bullock. They worked out hard together to get better. Curry was the unsung one among that years group, but many people felt that he could be the best, and that turned out to be the case. By the time he left Huntington, he became arguably the best defensive end in school history. The stories surround him were like a movie. Coming to Marshall ineligible, dealing with the death of his mother and returning to win the game for the Herd, being drafted into the NFL, and picking the number 75 to wear at the next level in honor of the 75 victims of the plane crash of 1970 that took the lives of Marshall football players, staff, and fans.

Vinny Curry will forever be one of the greatest and most well loved, “sons of Marshall,” to ever play the game.

A look back at 1899, and 1999

1899 was a season that the Herd did not have to worry about their starters getting tired by playing too many downs. The team played one game. A game on November 30th, 1899 against Catlettsburg High School. The two teams fought to a 0 to 0 tie. Marshall finished the not so grueling season with a 0 – 0 – 1 record.

1999 will go down as one of the greatest seasons in school history, rivaled only by the 1996 team and the most recent edition, the 2014 Thundering Herd.

1999 started out with some expectations as the Herd was coming off a one loss season in 1998. Marshall opened up on the road in Clemson, Death Valley. The Herd was led on the field by some of the greatest team captains ever to wear the green and white, Chad Pennington, Doug Chapman, Girardi Mercer, John Grace, Mike Guilliams, Andre O’Neal and Jason Starkey. This group would simply not let the Herd lose a football game. There were several other stars on this team such as Rogers Beckett, Ron Puggi and Nate Poole as well.

Marshall gutted out a late win on the road at Clemson when Doug Chapman, running on fumes and IV’s went off left tackle and into the endzone from 7 yards out. The 15,000 or so Marshall fans in attendance, a number that tends to grow each time the story is told, went crazy. Most were setting high enough to get nose bleeds and had been deprived of water since early in the second quarter when the concession stands simply ran out. It will go down as one of the top 10 wins in school history.

The Herd would go on to sweep through the regular season and then have a win of the ages in the 1999 Mid American Conference Championship Game. Marshall fell behind 23 to 0 before the team surged back won the game in the final seconds on a touchdown pass from Pennington to seldom used tight end Eric Pinkerton from nearby Sissonville, High School. The Herd would finish up the story book year with a resounding 21 to 3 win in the Motor City Bowl over BYU to finish ranked 10th in the nation. Some of the greatest post game moments in school history happened after that game with the legendary hug in the back field between Pennington and Chapman, followed by several seniors grasping hands and walking side by side off the field for the final time. I am sure, for those of you that were there, you will get chills just thinking back on that moment. A perfectly fitting way to end a “PERFECT,” season.

A look at the number 99 on this years roster.

Currently, there is no one wearing number 99 on this years roster. With the number of defensive lineman that will be added to the roster this summer, the number will most likely be taken. Nyquan Harris and Channing Hames seem to be the most logical one who could take the number 99.

Just of note, and a truly meaningless note at that when talking about the number 99. In the year 1899, the paperclip was patented by a guy from Norway. How is that for a informational nugget you just couldn’t live without today?

Stay tuned to Herdhaven as we get you to game day one number at a time.

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