HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall football coach Doc Holliday always has considered his coaching staff's pre-camp retreat important, but it was even more so as the 2013 season drew closer. With six new members on a 10-man coaching staff, that's a lot of ears hearing those messages for the first time.
But coaches old and new said the staff has meshed well in its short time together, thanks to boundless energy and the ability to check egos at the door and compromise.
"It's an exceptional staff," Holliday said. "I've been on a lot of staffs and this is as good as I've been around."
Following last year's 5-7 season, the nameplates changed on plenty of offenses. Chuck Heater replaced Chris Rippon as defensive coordinator and took over secondary coaching duties from former corners coach Lytrel Pollard and safeties coach Todd Hartley, who moved to tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator. Adam Fuller coaches the linebackers, Rippon's duty when he was in Huntington, and Sean Cronin coaches the defensive ends, as J.C. Price now focuses on the interior defensive line.
Offensively, coordinator Bill Legg now coaches quarterbacks after Tony Petersen departed and former Florida International offensive line coach Alex Mirabal now coaches that position with the Thundering Herd, replacing Geep Wade. Thomas Brown replaced JaJuan Seider as running backs coach and Mike Furrey replaced Gerad Parker as receivers coach.
"When you lose six guys, that's a lot to lose in one season," Hartley said. "You feel good about the guys you brought in, because you went through the interview process. But you just don't know yet how you're going to mesh. But going through spring, spring recruiting, the summer and the summer retreat, it's really provided a lot of energy in the building."
Brown, announced at the end of March as Marshall's new running backs coach, didn't have much time to get used to his surroundings. The Herd released that news less than a week before spring practice began. But it also didn't take long for him, as he sat through those first coaches meetings, to feel this reconfigured staff could work well together.
"Within the first couple of days," he said. "Our guys kind of just meshed together. We just had meetings and like-minded conversations and I was thinking, man, we could really be kind of special. With the talent we have and the mindset we have, we could do whatever we wanted to do."