Marshall football: Depleted staff not slowing Herd's recruiting
HUNTINGTON -- The football coaches' offices in Marshall University's Shewey Building are a little emptier these days, but that hasn't slowed down the remaining staff in the last weeks of recruiting before National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
"I don't think it's affected us at all," said Coach Doc Holliday as he traveled the southeast on a recruiting swing. "I've got good coaches. We're just getting it done."
Several assistants have departed since the 2012 season ended.
Former defensive coordinator Chris Rippon resigned after the season finale, replaced last week by former Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater. Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen joined Louisiana Tech's staff as offensive coordinator. Offensive line coach Geep Wade left for Middle Tennessee State, while corners coach Lytrel Pollard left for his alma mater, Southern Mississippi.
Also, head strength and conditioning coach Joe Miday and his assistant, Scott Wilks, left for Western Kentucky, while high school relations director Alex Schnitzer left for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Holliday said the remaining coaches - offensive coordinator Bill Legg, running backs coach/recruiting coordinator JaJuan Seider, safeties coach Todd Hartley, receivers coach Gerad Parker and defensive line coach J.C. Price - have been working the recruiting trail, and Heater's arrival has been a big boost. Plus, now is the time of the year when Holliday makes his visits.
"As a head coach, you want to get involved with every kid," he said. "It's important that happens. If you do lose a coach, you still have that relationship. The guys we have on staff that are still here are guys that have done great job with these kids. We haven't missed a beat with (the other coaches) leaving."
Recruits haven't shied away from the Herd. Though receiver Mark Barr from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderale, Fla., switched his verbal commitment from Marshall to Cincinnati, Marshall has picked up three non-binding verbals in the last few days. The latest came Tuesday, when Georgia Military College safety Neville Hewitt tweeted to followers his verbal commitment. Hewitt, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, is a three-star prospect according to Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports.
He joins 6-6, 290-pound offensive lineman Chris Huhn from Pickerington, Ohio, and 5-9, 160-pound corner D'Andre "Chocolate" Wilson. Both tweeted over the weekend they had verbally committed to Marshall.
Verbal commitments are not binding until recruits put pen to paper starting Feb. 6. Also, former Penn State receiver Shawney Kersey has transferred to Marshall to join former Nittany Lion teammates Derrick Thomas and Devon Smith.
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HOLLIDAY ISN'T happy, however, with some of the new recruiting rules passed by the NCAA. Among them are allowing unlimited private communication between coaches and recruits, eliminating restrictions on non-coaching staff members contacting recruits and eliminating the limit on the number of coaches who can recruit off-campus at any one time.
"I don't know where it's going, but I think it's going in the wrong direction," Holliday said of the new rules. "A lot of programs could be affected in negative way."
Holliday echoes the opinions of others that the new rules could put even more distance between the haves and have-nots of college football.
Deep-pocketed programs like Alabama will be able to spend more money to take advantage of those new rules, while schools in smaller conferences like Conference USA won't be able to keep up with the power programs.
"We'll have to work much harder to keep up," Holliday said. "We'll have to do more with less. The way we have to get creative is we have to outwork people now."
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MARSHALL'S C-USA schedule includes home games against East Carolina, Southern Mississippi, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Texas at San Antonio, plus away games at Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and Tulsa. The conference announced this, plus the new C-USA divisions, following athletic directors meetings Wednesday.
Marshall sits in an East Division that includes ECU, FAU, FIU, MTSU, Southern Miss and UAB. The West Division includes Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, the University of Texas at El Paso and UTSA.
With seven teams in each division, each team will play its six division opponents plus two teams from the other division. Last season, teams played three cross-division opponents.
Dates for Marshall's conference games have not yet been determined.
They'll join a 2013 Herd schedule that includes home games Aug. 31 versus Miami (Ohio) and Sept. 7 versus Gardner-Webb and road games Sept. 14 at Ohio and Sept. 21 at Virginia Tech.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.