WASHINGTON, D.C. - From before the season began, when he announced that the names would come off the backs of the Marshall football players' jerseys, Thundering Herd Coach Doc Holliday said if his team made a bowl game, they'd go back on.
So when the Herd faces Maryland on Friday in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., he'll have kept his word, and the players names will return.
"It was my way of making another example of, it ain't about the name on the back of the jersey," Holliday said at the team's welcome reception at the Renaissance Hotel, "it's about what's on the front of your jersey, which is 'The Herd.' It's about Marshall. It was just another small piece of making a better football team."
Removing the names was one of a couple of moves Holliday made to boost team unity. He also decided to name game captains instead of yearlong captains when the season began, allowing the team to vote on permanent captains at the end.
The Herd responded by jumping from five wins in 2012 to nine wins in 2013, winning the Conference USA East Division for the first time and reaching the Military Bowl, to be played at 2:30 on ESPN.
"Did it make any difference? I don't know," Holliday added. "Evidently, it may be a part of it."
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AT THE RECEPTION, the team got a visit from Roy Tabb, a wide receiver on the 1971 "Young Thundering Herd" roster from Hayes, Va. That team carried on for Marshall following the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 players, coaches, staff and boosters. The team has worn the number 75 on its helmets since its win over Tulsa.