"I think the campus really looks great and I think the football program has been an unbelievable addition to the whole university. I think it's been the catalyst to get a lot of other things done."
Marcum had stints as athletic director at Kansas and South Carolina and then detoured to front office duties at both the Charlotte Motor Speedway (Vice President) and the Atlanta Motor Speedway (General Manager) before returning to college sports in 1993 at Massachusetts. While his roots run deep in Huntington, there is no doubt where his current loyalties lie, even if the game involves his alma mater.
"When the ball goes up in the air, I'm a UMASS man," Said Marcum. "We are used to winning. We have established a winning tradition. I want to win."
Bob Marcum is the AD at UMass, and a Huntington native.
The Marshall football team handed the I-AA Minutemen a 49-20 loss in early September to begin a ten-game winning streak. Now three years removed from upsetting Georgia Southern en route to the 1998 I-AA national title, Marcum makes no secret that the Minutemen are exploring a step up to I-A status in football.
"There is currently a two year moratorium on making the advancement from I-AA to I-A. In all honesty, I feel that the classification in college football is ridiculous," said Marcum, who has his Minutemen slated to visit I-A N.C. State next season. "I think that the new criteria is even more ridiculous. In college basketball, you don't have an average attendance clause. You don't have a certain size arena in order to compete. I think we would all be better off with just Division One football and you could work at your own rate of progress. We are considering going I-A, but I believe that the BCS people are making that kind of move so tough, that in a few years this is going to be one of the most damaging things to ever happen to college football."
Marshall has now beaten UMASS three of the last four times the teams have met and the Herd will make two more trips to Amherst before the current basketball agreement is completed. Marcum is aware of Huntington-based rumors that have him as a possible future candidate for the athletic director's job at Marshall, if it opens up. But he quickly deflects that notion.
"No, not really," Says Marcum when asked if he would consider a move back to his alma mater. "I'm very well established at UMASS. When I come back to Huntington, it's to visit my sister and my friends. That has never really entered my mind. They (Marshall) are doing well, I'm doing well and that's where it needs to stay."
After an 0-3 start, Greg White's Herd has won seven of its last eight games and Marcum couldn't be happier for the current direction of the Marshall basketball program.
"I've known Greg for a long time and I think he's a fine coach," Said Marcum. "A friend once told me that there are more good coaches than there are good programs. Good programs take a long time to develop. Fans get impatient. But when you have the right person-and I believe that Greg is the right person-supporters need to get behind the program to make it successful. In the future, I think he will produce."
It's easy to notice that Marcum still has a very warm spot in his heart for Marshall and truly cares about the direction of its athletic programs. "Huntington is a good basketball town," Said Marcum as he wistfully gazed up at the portraits of the Herd's all-time best performers hanging inside the Cam Henderson Center. "There are an awful lot of those jerseys up there that mean a lot to folks here. I think that Greg (White) is the right man for this job. I'm sure that Marshall doesn't want to go back to way things used to be."
CAUGHT IN THE ‘NET:
It looks as if Marshall and the rest of the football teams around the MAC are going to be victims in a strange case involving a highly regarded junior college prospect and Internet message boards. Football fans that get the majority of their recruiting news through the Internet, often fan the rumor flames so wildly that the recruits in question become concerned.
Case in point, Chad Mascoe. The six-foot-three, 245-pound Mascoe committed to Florida State last November after a stellar junior college career at Southwest Mississippi CC, but opted recently to renege on his nod to the Seminoles and head for Central Florida instead. After scanning the information written about him at one of FSU's unofficial sites (www.Warchant.com), Mascoe now believed that that Florida State's coaches wanted to move him to defensive end and were concerned about his weight. Mascoe will now attend UCF, which is less than an hour from his native Kissimmee.
What is the role of the individuals who serve as the webmasters of these unofficial school Internet sites and how do they police their message boards where rumors are born?
"Rumor-mongering has become a plague due to Internet message boards, and it is unsubstantiated rumors that can absolutely get out of hand and do damage to a program," admitted our own Greg Perry of the (www.goherd.com) Herd Insider. So, we don't tolerate the flinging of rumors."
But the webmaster of the popular Herd Grapevine (http://pub88.ezboard.com/btheherdgrapevine) "The Big Dawg" believes that role of message board chatter in a recruit's college choice is minimal. "I can't believe that anything said on an Internet message board could have much affect on a recruits decisions," He countered. "These decisions are more affected by visits to the schools themselves, the impressions made on the recruits and parents by the coaches and the recruits impressions of the school itself than anything said on a internet message board."
Marshall will get a first hand look at how damaging message board chatter can really be next season. Chad Mascoe was considered to be the third-best strong-side linebacker in the nation when he left high school. Rather than sign with Florida State, Mascoe will be right across the line of scrimmage staring into the eyes of the Herd's Byron Leftwich next fall. Mascoe is projected as UCF's new middle linebacker when Central Florida rolls into Huntington to make their MAC debut against Marshall.
EARLY PREPARATIONS FOR THE HERD:
Marshall's former I-AA playoff rival Troy State continues to try and follow the Herd's path to success at the I-A level. In mid-December, the Alabama-based Trojans Board of Trustees authorized an $11 million expansion of Memorial Stadium that will allow construction of 22 sky boxes ($16,000 rent per year) and bring its capacity to 30,000 seats. Construction will begin after next season and should be ready in time for Marshall's season opening visit to Troy State on August 30, 2003.
"We wanted to play our home games at home, not in Montgomery or Mobile," Said Troy State AD Johnny Williams. "Marshall, UAB and Iowa State are already on our schedule. We think we can attract some other big names, but we have to have a place big enough for our fans and their fans."