Marshall Thundering Herd football
2023 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
First season1895
Athletic directorChristian Spears
Head coachCharles Huff
3rd season, 22–17 (.564)
StadiumJoan C. Edwards Stadium
(capacity: 30,475)
FieldJames F. Edwards Field
Field surfaceAstroTurf
LocationHuntington, West Virginia
ConferenceSun Belt Conference
Past conferencesWVIAC (1925–1932)
Buckeye (1933–1938)
OVC (1948–1951)
MAC (1954–1968, 1997–2004)
SoCon (1977–1996)
C-USA (2005–2021)
All-time record628–571–47 (.523)
Bowl record13–7 (.650)
Claimed national titlesDiv. I FCS: 2 (1992, 1996)[1]
Conference titles13
Division titles9
RivalriesApp State (rivalry)
Ohio (rivalry)
East Carolina (rivalry)
West Virginia (rivalry)
Consensus All-Americans1
ColorsKelly green and white[2]
Fight songSons of Marshall
MascotMarco the Bison
Marching bandMarching Thunder

The Marshall Thundering Herd football team is an intercollegiate varsity sports program of Marshall University. The team represents the university as a member of the Sun Belt Conference East Division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, playing at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Marshall plays at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which seats 38,227[3] and is expandable to 55,000. At the end of the 2022 football season, Marshall had a 181–44 record at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for a winning percentage of .804. The stadium opened in 1991 as Marshall University Stadium with a crowd of 33,116 for a 24–23 win over New Hampshire. On September 10, 2010, Marshall played the in-state rival West Virginia Mountaineers in Huntington in front of a record crowd of 41,382. Joan C. Edwards Stadium is one of two Division I stadiums named for a woman. The playing field is named James F. Edwards Field after Joan Edwards' husband, who was a businessman and philanthropist.


See also: List of Marshall Thundering Herd football seasons

Early history (1895–1916)

Boyd Chambers, the coach who called the "Tower Play".

Boyd Chambers was Marshall's head football coach from 1909 to 1916. He is best known for calling the "Tower Play", where one receiver lifted another up on his shoulders to complete a pass, during the 1915 season.[4]

Rick Tolley era (1969–1970)

See also: Southern Airways Flight 932

The memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia to the victims of the Southern Airways Flight 932 crash.

Rick Tolley was Marshall's head football coach for two seasons, coming to Marshall from his post as defensive line coach for Wake Forest and posting records of 3–7 and 3–6. Tolley was killed on November 14, 1970, in a plane crash which killed all 75 passengers, including 37 players, five coaches, administrators, family, friends, and the Southern Airways five-person crew, as it returned to West Virginia after a game against East Carolina.[5]

Jack Lengyel era (1971–1974)

Marshall athletic director, Joe McMullen, hired Jack Lengyel to be head coach in 1971. To rebuild following the plane crash, Lengyel recruited athletes from the baseball and basketball teams. Lengyel's record as Marshall's head coach was 9–33.[citation needed]

Frank Ellwood era (1975–1978)

Marshall hired Ohio University assistant Frank Ellwood, a Dover, Ohio, native who led the program for four seasons. The team went 2-9 during his first season and 5-6 during the 1976 campaign, a year in which the Thundering Herd upset 20th-ranked Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 12, 1976 at Fairfield Stadium in Huntington. The Herd had not defeated Miami since 1939. Marshall finished 2-9 and 1–10 in 1977 and 1978, respectively, failing to win a Southern Conference game in either season.

Sonny Randle era (1979–1983)

Sonny Randle became head coach following the 1978 season. Randle had been the head coach at East Carolina and Virginia. He went 12-42-1 during his five seasons in Huntington, which included a 5-26-1 record in Southern Conference play. Randle mentored Marshall Athletics Hall of Famer Carl Lee during his tenure.

Jim Donnan era (1990–1995)

Led by head coach Jim Donnan, who came to Marshall from his post as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, Marshall won the Division I-AA national championship in 1992 over Youngstown State (31–28) and was national runner-up in 1991, 1993 and 1995.[6][7] Marshall set a I-AA record with five consecutive seasons making the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs from 1991 to 1996. Donnan was named NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year twice during his tenure at Marshall and resigned after the 1995 season to accept the head football coach position at Georgia.[8]

Bob Pruett era (1996–2004)

Randy Moss, star wide receiver at Marshall under coach Bob Pruett

Bob Pruett left his post as defensive coordinator at Florida to become head football coach at Marshall, where he served from 1996 to 2004.[9] During his tenure at Marshall, the Thundering Herd compiled a record of 94–23, featured two undefeated seasons, won six conference championships, won five of seven bowl games, and captured the I-AA National Championship in 1996. Marshall moved to Division I-A and the Mid-American Conference in all sports in 1997. The 1996 team, ranked No. 1 all season, was 15–0 and won each game by more than two touchdowns. The 1996 team included future NFL players Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, John Wade, Chris Hanson, Eric Kresser, Doug Chapman. Marshall won the MAC title five of its eight seasons (1997-2000, 2002) and were runners up in 2001 in the conference before moving to Conference USA in 2005.

Since moving back to Division I-A, Marshall has finished in the Top 25 four times, in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2014. From 1997 to 2000, Marshall appeared in the Motor City Bowl, losing in 1997 to Ole Miss before winning the next three bowl games against Louisville, BYU and Cincinnati.[10][11] Marshall beat East Carolina 64-61 a double-overtime game in the 2001 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Marshall trailed 38–8 at halftime before rallying behind five Byron Leftwich touchdown passes.[11] Marshall lost 32–14 to Cincinnati in the 2004 Plains Capital Fort Worth Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Pruett's final game as head coach before his retirement.[11][12]

Mark Snyder era (2005–2009)

Marshall vs. Louisville 2016

Former Marshall football player Mark Snyder became head football coach, leaving his position as defensive coordinator for Ohio State.[13] Snyder coached Ahmad Bradshaw, Lee Smith, Vinny Curry, Albert McClellan and Cody Slate during his time as head coach at Marshall. Snyder's best season was 6–6 in 2009. He resigned after five seasons that included one bowl berth, the 2009 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.[14]

Doc Holliday era (2010–2020)

On December 17, 2009, Doc Holliday, an assistant coach at West Virginia University, became Marshall's head coach after signing a five-year contract at $600,000 per season.[15][16] Holliday led Marshall to a 10–4 season in 2013, capped with a victory in the Military Bowl. In the 2014 season, he led the team to a 13–1 season, winning the school's first C-USA Championship and the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl against Northern Illinois 52–23.[17] In 2015, Holliday led the Herd to their first victory over a Big Ten school after beating the Purdue Boilermakers en route to a 10–3 season, including a win in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl.[18][19] In 2020, Holliday led Marshall to a 7–0 start and a No. 15 Associated Press ranking. A three-game losing streak followed and the team finished 7–3. Marshall won the Conference USA East Division title, before losing to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the 2020 Conference USA Championship game. Holliday was named Coach of the Year in 2020 by Conference USA. In January 2021, Doc Holliday's contract was not extended.

Charles Huff era (2021–present)

On January 17, 2021, Marshall hired Alabama running backs coach Charles Huff as its head coach.[20] In his first season, Huff led Marshall to a 7–6 record. Marshall lost to the No. 23-ranked Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 36–21 in the 2021 New Orleans Bowl.[21] The school officially joined the Sun Belt conference in June 2022. On September 10, 2022, Huff led Marshall to their second all-time victory over a top-10 opponent after defeating the No. 8-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 26–21 at Notre Dame Stadium.[22] Huff earned his first bowl win as a head coach in the 2022 Myrtle Beach Bowl against the UConn Huskies 28–14, finishing the year 9–4.[23] During the 2023 season, Huff guided Marshall to their first win over the Virginia Tech Hokies since 1940 with a 24–17 victory in Huntington.[24] Despite a 4–0 start, Marshall would finish the regular season 6–6 and lose to the UTSA Roadrunners 35–17 in the 2023 Frisco Bowl to finish the year 6–7.[25]

Conference affiliations


National championships

Marshall has won two NCAA Division I-AA national championships.

Season Coach Selector Record Opponent Result
1992 Jim Donnan NCAA Division I-AA 12–3 Youngstown State W 31–28
1996 Bob Pruett 15–0 Montana W 49–29

Conference championships

Marshall has won 13 conference championships, 12 outright and one shared.[26]

Season Conference Coach Conference record Overall record
1925 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Charles Tallman 3–0–2 4–1–4
1928 5–0 8–1–1
1931 Tom Dandelet 4–1 6–3
1937 Buckeye Conference Cam Henderson 4–0–1 9–0–1
1988 Southern Conference George Chaump 6–1 11–2
1994 Jim Donnan 7–1 12–2
1996 Bob Pruett 8–0 15–0
1997 Mid-American Conference 8–1 10–3
1998 8–1 12–1
1999 9–0 13–0
2000 6–3 8–5
2002 8–1 11–2
2014 Conference USA Doc Holliday 7–1 13–1

† Co-champions

Division championships

Marshall has nine division championships.[26]

Season Division Coach Opponent CG result
1997 MAC East Bob Pruett Toledo W 34–14
1998 Toledo W 23–17
1999 Western Michigan W 34–30
2000 Western Michigan W 19–14
2001 Toledo L 36–41
2002 Toledo W 49–45
2013 C-USA East Doc Holliday Rice L 24–41
2014 Louisiana Tech W 26–23
2020 UAB L 13–22

† Co-champions

Bowl games

See also: List of Marshall Thundering Herd bowl games

Marshall has been invited to play in 19 bowl games, compiling a record of 13–7 through the 2023 season.[27][26] The Tangerine Bowl was unsanctioned by the NCAA until 1968. As such, the 1948 appearance in the game is not included in the official NCAA bowl listing for Marshall.[28]

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1947 Cam Henderson Tangerine Bowl Catawba L 0–7
1997 Bob Pruett Motor City Bowl Ole Miss L 31–34
1998 Motor City Bowl Louisville W 48–29
1999 Motor City Bowl BYU W 21–3
2000 Motor City Bowl Cincinnati W 25–14
2001 GMAC Bowl East Carolina W 64–612OT
2002 GMAC Bowl Louisville W 38–15
2004 Fort Worth Bowl Cincinnati L 14–32
2009 Rick Minter Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Ohio W 21–17
2011 Doc Holliday Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl FIU W 20–10
2013 Military Bowl Maryland W 31–20
2014 Boca Raton Bowl Northern Illinois W 52–23
2015 St. Petersburg Bowl Connecticut W 16–10
2017 New Mexico Bowl Colorado State W 31–28
2018 Gasparilla Bowl South Florida W 38–20
2019 Gasparilla Bowl UCF L 25–48
2020 Camellia Bowl Buffalo L 10–17
2021 Charles Huff New Orleans Bowl Louisiana L 21–36
2022 Myrtle Beach Bowl Connecticut W 28–14
2023 Frisco Bowl UTSA L 17–35

Uniforms and Logos

Traditionally, the logo for Marshall athletics has been usually a green "M" letter logo, usually in trim, on what usually has been white helmets. Kelly and white are the primary colors of the football uniforms. The program also has three logos featuring a bull head mascot, one with the mascot head inside of the "M" logo with the wordmark "MARSHALL", and the other with the stylized "The Herd" wordmark.

Historically, there has also been a black alternate uniform. Historically, the football team has worn a white helmet, with a kelly green stripe surrounded by two white and black stripes across the middle of the helmet, with the "M" letter logo in kelly green with white and black trim; they have also worn a silver, or a kelly green helmet with the same striping as the white helmets, with both the same "M" logo in black (or white trim). For a period in the mid / late 1970s, they also wore a silver helmet which featured a kelly green logo of the state of West Virginia with the "M" logo inside of it.

The Thundering Herd athletic program has had a long standing relationship with Nike as their official outfitter. In 2023, the Marshall sports program extended their partnership with Nike and BSN Sports as the official provider of Marshall's athletic apparel, as well as footwear and other equipment needs in a multi-year deal.[29]

In 2019, Marshall released 2 new (black home and white away) jerseys with 3 pants (black white, and kelly green.) The black and kelly green jerseys had the stylized "The Herd" alternate logo on the front. The white home jersey had the "Marshall" wordmark on the logo's front, with the Nike "swoosh" logo on both the jerseys and pants, which also had the "M" / "The Herd" wordmark logo also on the pants. The jersey numbers were in block font style on the road / alternate jerseys, as they had historically been, and in a varsity font style on the home white jerseys. The striping pattern which had been traditionally on the pants (white, black and kelly green) were removed.[30]

The football team presently also wears, at times, two alternate black helmets, one with the same logo, and the other, with a charging bull logo, both have a white stripe surrounded by two thinner black and kelly green striping pattern going across the middle of the helmet.

In 2020, the football program introduced the current new set of Nike home uniforms, which featured the same traditional striping pattern across the helmets (white, black and a slightly lighter kelly green), jerseys and pants, as well as a new jersey number font style on the jerseys, a double outline varsity jersey number font (which were placed on the home jerseys in 2019) which now appears on all of the jerseys, and a contrasting black collar.[31]

Another later notable change occurred in 2022, that the change of the conference which the team plays in, being as of 2022, the switch from Conference USA to the Sun Belt Conference, indicative in the conference logo on the jerseys.

Head coaches

See also: List of Marshall Thundering Herd head football coaches

Tenure Coach Record Pct.
1903–1904 George Ford 4–4–4 .500
1905 Alfred McCray 6–2 .750
1906 Pearl Rardin 4–1 .800
1908 William G. Vinal 0–6 .000
1909–1916 Boyd Chambers 32–27–4 .539
1917 Burton Shipley 1–7–1 .167
1919 Archer Reilly 8–0 1.000
1920 Herbert Cramer 0–8 .000
1921–1922 Skeeter Shelton 11–6–1 .639
1923 Harrison Briggs 1–7 .125
1924 Russ Meredith 4–4 .500
1925–1928 Charles Tallman 22–9–7 .671
1929–1930 John Maulbetsch 8–8–2 .500
1931–1934 Tom Dandelet 18–16–2 .528
1935–1949 Cam Henderson 68–46–5 .592
1950–1952 Pete Pederson 9–19–3 .339
1953–1958 Herb Royer 21–31–2 .407
1959–1967 Charlie Snyder 28–58–3 .331
1968 Perry Moss 0–9–1 .050
1969–1970 Rick Tolley 6–13–0 .316
1971–1974 Jack Lengyel 9–33–0 .272
1975–1978 Frank Ellwood 10–34–0 .227
1979–1983 Sonny Randle 12–42–1 .227
1984–1985 Stan Parrish 13–8–1 .614
1986–1989 George Chaump 33–16–1 .670
1990–1995 Jim Donnan 64–21 .753
1996–2004 Bob Pruett 94–23 .803
2005–2009 Mark Snyder 22–37 .373
2009 Rick Minter 1–0 1.000
2010–2020 Doc Holliday 85–54 .612
2021–present Charles Huff 22–17 .564

Division I-AA playoff results

Marshall has appeared in the I-AA playoffs eight times, compiling a record 23–6. They are two-time I-AA National Champions and four-time national runners-up.

Year Round Opponent Result
1987 First Round
National Championship Game
James Madison
Weber State
Appalachian State
Northeast Louisiana
W 41–12
W 51–23
W 24–10
L 42–43
1988 First Round
North Texas
W 7–0
L 9–13
1991 First Round
National Championship Game
Western Illinois
Northern Iowa
Eastern Kentucky
Youngstown State
W 20–17 OT
W 41–13
W 14–7
L 17–25
1992 First Round
National Championship Game
Eastern Kentucky
Middle Tennessee State
Youngstown State
W 44–0
W 35–21
W 28–7
W 31–28
1993 First Round
National Championship Game
Troy State
Youngstown State
W 28–14
W 34–31
W 24–21
L 5–17
1994 First Round
Middle Tennessee
James Madison
Boise State
W 49–14
W 28–21 OT
L 24–28
1995 First Round
National Championship Game
Jackson State
Northern Iowa
McNeese State
W 38–8
W 41–24
W 25–13
L 20–22
1996 First Round
National Championship Game
Northern Iowa
W 59–14
W 54–0
W 31–14
W 49–29


Appalachian State

Main article: Appalachian State–Marshall football rivalry

Known colloquially as The Old Mountain Feud, the rivalry with Appalachian State was played annually 1977–1996. The rivalry resumed annual play in the 2020 season and is set to continue as Marshall joins Appalachian State in the Sun Belt Conference East Division in 2022. The significance of the rivalry is that both schools are public universities in the Appalachian mountains, dominant in FCS and FBS Group of Five football, recruit the same players out of the same regions, and have a national reputation that exceeds most peer football programs of their size. An altercation at Kidd Brewer Stadium in 2021 made national news after a group of Mountaineer supporters taunted Marshall players on their way to the locker room.[32] Appalachian State leads the all-time series, 15–9.[33]


Main article: Battle for the Bell

Marshall's regional rival is Ohio University. Both schools compete against one another in the Battle for the Bell, with a traveling bell trophy as the prize for the victor. Both schools also played in the same MAC Conference for a number of years until Marshall joined Conference USA in 2005 - causing the annual rivalry game to go on hiatus. The regularly scheduled series resumed between the two schools in 2010. The rivalry was renewed in 2009 when the Herd and Bobcats faced off in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which the Herd won 21–17. Ohio leads the all-time series over Marshall, however the Thundering Herd have won 10 of 15 meetings since rejoining the FBS in 1997. The six-year series contract between the two schools ran out following the 2015 season. The series has since been renewed, as both schools are set to play one another in a future matchup in 2027. Ohio leads the series 33–21–6 through the 2021 season.[34]

West Virginia

Main article: Friends of Coal Bowl

Marshall played West Virginia in the annual Friends of Coal Bowl until 2012. Marshall and WVU first played in 1911, but it wasn't until 2006 before the two schools from the "Mountain State" faced off annually for the Governor's Cup. Some[who?] believe the rivalry began due to political pressure from the state government. The two last played in 2012, and there are no immediate plans to renew the rivalry. West Virginia holds a 12–0 lead in the series as of 2012.[35]

East Carolina

Main article: East Carolina–Marshall football rivalry

Marshall and East Carolina have a "friendly" rivalry with one another. They are emotionally bonded by the tragic plane crash on November 14, 1970. The Thundering Herd were coming back from Greenville, North Carolina after a 17–14 loss to the Pirates when their plane crashed near Ceredo, West Virginia. The teams have been bonded ever since.

One of Marshall and ECU's most memorable games was the 2001 GMAC Bowl as they combined for a bowl record, 125 points, as Marshall overcame a 30-point deficit to beat East Carolina 64–61 in double overtime. After Marshall defeated East Carolina in 2013, it marked ECU's last conference match-up as a member of Conference USA. On April 3, 2014, both schools announced that the two teams will meet again for a home and home seridatees in 2020 and 2021. East Carolina was supposed to host Marshall at Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, NC on September 5, 2020, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Marshall will host at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia on September 11, 2021, before travelling to Greenville on September 9, 2023, and host again on September 13, 2025.[36][37]

ECU was 6–3 against the Herd from 2005 to 2013 when both schools were in Conference USA. East Carolina leads the series 11–5.[38]

Home venues


"We Are... Marshall" Chant

“We Are…Marshall” has been around since football games in the 1980s at the university's old Fairfield Stadium, where the stadium scoreboard would light up with alternating arrows to indicate which side of the crowd should lead the cheer. Since then, “We Are…Marshall” has become the rallying cry for a resilient school and community.

Thunder Walk

The football team's pre-game walk through the tailgaters at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium has become a ritual. Fans line both sides of the route to cheer the players and coaches as they make their way to the stadium for each home game.

"Sons of Marshall" Fight Song

When the 300-member strong Marching Thunder enters the Joan C. Edwards Stadium playing the school's official fight song, the hearts of sons and daughters of Marshall University swell with pride. The march was written in 1935 by alumnus Ralph A. Williams.

Memorial '75' Game

Each season, the home game closest to the date November 14 is designated as the Memorial '75' or Tribute Game; a game in which Marshall wears special helmets and uniforms in tribute to the victims of the 1970 Marshall football team plane crash. It began under former Marshall head coach "Doc" Holiday, during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, which saw Marshall wear their traditional white M helmets with a special '75' decal on one side of the helmet, representing the 75 lives lost. 2015 marked the 45th anniversary of the 1970 tragedy - to which Marshall unveiled black jerseys for the first time in program history against FIU on 11/14/15. In 2022, Marshall revealed a new black helmet and wore entirely all-black uniforms for the tribute game against Appalachian State.

Top 25 finishes

I-AA Polls

Year NCAA rank Sports network rank
1987 No. 14
1988 No. 7
1991 No. 8
1992 No. 10
1993 No. 9
1994 No. 2
1995 No. 6
1996 No. 1


1-A/FBS Polls

Year APrRank Coaches rank
1999 No. 10 No. 10
2001 No. 21
2002 No. 24 No. 19
2014 No. 23 No. 22


Individual honors

Award winners



Hall of Fame

College football

Marshall has five players and one coach in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Pro football

Marshall University Hall of Fame

Established in 1984, members from the football team are listed below.[51]

Retired numbers

No. Player Pos. Tenure No. ret. Ref.
Frank Gatski C 1940–41 2005 [52]

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of May 10, 2023.[53]

2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
vs Stony Brook vs Army at Penn State at Ohio vs Ohio at Ohio
at Virginia Tech vs Middle Tennessee vs Boise State
vs Western Michigan vs East Carolina at Army vs Bowling Green
at Ohio State at Middle Tennessee


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  6. ^ "Marshall Hires Donnan". 1990-01-19. Retrieved 2016-04-07. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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  28. ^ Bowl/All-Star Game Records, p. 128
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