Media Day At Marshall Starts 2008

ESPN 930-AM in Huntington was live today from the 2008 Marshall Media Day for football, and also live from "Thunder in the Valley," a Marshall Alumni meeting in Vienna, W.Va. of the Wood County Thundering Herd alums and boosters. Former Marshall assistant "Red" Dawson, portrayed by Matthew Fox in "We Are Marshall" from Warner Bros., told Parkersburg-area fans "support" is giving money to Marshall.

Dawson, who was a Herd assistant under Perry Moss (1968), Rick Tolley (1969-70, driving for recruiting and missing the flight on November 14, 1970, that killed 37 players, five coaches and 75 persons in all returning from the East Carolina game) and Jack Lengyel (1971, with the "Young" Thundering Herd), told the Alumni at the Grand Pointe Convention Center in Vienna, "Why didn't we win back then? Because we didn't have support, and that means money, and leaders like Steve Kopp and Kayo Marcum," said Dawson of Dr. Stephen Kopp, President of Marshall University, and Bob Marcum, the MU Director of Athletics. Dawson went on to say if you want to build a popular college, one of the ways is to have a successful football program. Also speaking was Tish Littlehales, Director of the MU Alumni Association; Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation; Menis Ketchum, former member of the MU Board of Governors, who introduced MU's top scholarship recipient and a Yeager Scholar who both are from the Parkersburg area; and the president of the Mid Ohio Valley Marshall Alumni Club, Laurie Martin (whose daughter won the top scholarship to attend MU this fall).

"We Are Marshall" posters, from the 2006 movie that featured Matthew Fox as assistant coach Red Dawson, were autographed by the star and his character were auctioned off as one of many gifts at the Parkersburg fund raiser for the MU Alumni that Dawson spoke at Monday night. photo from Marshall University, courtesy of Warner Bros.

Back at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Mark Snyder begins his fourth year back with his best defender back in junior defensive end/outside linebacker Albert McClellan returning from an injury to his knee; new coordinators in Rick Minter on defense and John Shannon on offense; and a full compliment of 85 scholarships for the first time at Marshall since 2004. Which was the Herd's last winning season while playing in the Mid-American Conference.

While moving up to Conference USA was a jump in overall talent the Herd has to face week in-and-week out, Snyder likes his team's ability to compete. "Sure, ending with three wins in the last five games was important," said Snyder of the 3-9, injury-plagued 2007 season that saw MU lose the first seven games of the season. "The momentum was a good and showed when we're healthy, you saw what we could do. Coaching is overrated. You have got to have players, and I've told our staff we are going to get our good players to the game."

Mark Snyder begins his fourth season at the Marshall helm, welcoming in the third class he has recruited at Media Day Monday at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium. photo from, Marshall University Athletics

Snyder was speaking of reducing the amount of hitting the Herd will do in pre-season practice, as last season saw the Herd, in general, and the defense, specifically, lose McClellan, Montel Glasco, John Jacobs and other defenders for all or much of the early season. "I look around C-USA and there are no teams more talented than us...maybe more experienced, but we like our team. There are no dominating teams in Conference USA. Maybe UCF, they are very close, George O'Leary has done a great job." Snyder was also very complimentary of players who teamed up for an overall 2.5 grade point average, a great graduation rate and some players, like Matt Altobello or Matt Parkhurst who are already graduated and in graduate school, or Brian Leggett and Wesley Beardain, who will graduate in three and one-half years.

QB Mark Cann was the No. 1 quarterback entering fall camp, but will be pushed by Jonathan Garner and Brian Anderson, according to new MU offensive coordinator John Shannon. spring 2008 photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Shannon, the former OC at Toledo, said Mark Cann will go with the ones to start camp, but Brian Anderson and Jonathan Garner will split reps with the twos and threes, and also go some each with the first team. "We might have a starter of the week, to keep up the competition in-season," said Shannon of naming a starter. He also said this Herd is a one-back, no-huddle team. "We will obtain diversity with a mix of running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. We'll use all different formations."

Minter, a former coordinator at Ball State, South Carolina and Notre Dame under both Charlie Weis and Lou Holtz and former head coach at Cincinnati, said it is time for Marshall to re-establish itself. "Marshall has rich tradition," said Minter, "now it's time to restore the roar!" Minter is also excited about getting his first coaching taste of players who missed much of the spring, like McClellan and Glasco for injuries or Brandon Bullock, Delvin Johnson or Vinny Curry, who had to sit out last year.

NOTES FROM HERD OPPONENTS CORRAL; TODAY THE TEAMS IN C-USA EAST: EAST CAROLINA - Skip Holtz has seen his team come close to a C-USA title for two straight years, and hopes those losses will ignite a fire withing his team. "When I went down the schedule with the team and I brought up Marshall, there was a groan in the room," Holtz told The Dispatch on-line edition on Saturday about the loss to the Herd that sent the Pirates to the Hawaii Bowl for a thrilling win over Boise State instead of to the Liberty Bowl as possible C-USA champs if they had won the East Division...MEMPHIS - Defensive coordinator Tim Walton returned to UofM, where he was on the defensive staffs of Rip Scherer (2000) and current HC Tommy West in 2001. Walton is a former Ohio State defensive back who West expects to re-install a swagger the group has lacked lately, said Phil Stukenborg of The Commercial Appeal Monday...SOUTHERN MISS - "The two first practices went very good," USM HC Larry Fedora told the Hattiesburg American on Monday. "We really wanted to find out where our guys were after the summer. I'm pretty pleased where they are."...UAB - "I think we're light years ahead of where we were-just being together for a year, really a year and a half now, going through two spring practices, a season (and) a couple of off-season programs," HC Neil Callaway told Steve Irvine of The Birmingham News on Monday. Instead of leading to a faster pace, Callaway is keeping things slower and simpler. "I talked a lot about this in the spring. We want to make sure we're good at something."...UCF - Knights started practice on Sunday with four players not coming in, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Defensive end Darius Nall will come on August 22, recovering from an anterior Thoracotomy after thymoma was found in his chest. Defensive tackle Chris Martin is rehabbing his shoulder and will grayshirt, enrolling in January of 2009 while James Poe, a running back, is headed to Georgia Military College, a prep school. Finally, true freshman athlete Marquee Williams is waiting on academic clearance. Fullback Ricky Kay has been reinstated following an approval of his pre-trial diversion program enrollment last week. Kay, charged with damaging school property, will rejoin team when charges are dropped after completing program.

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