Doc shedding light on changes a step in right direction

By JPrince83
Dec. 16, 2016

Herd coach Doc Holliday looks on during a Marshall football game against the Pitt Panthers.

Marshall football coach Doc Holliday finally addressed some of the fans concerns on Thursday speaking candidly to Charleston Gazette beat reporter Doug Smock. 

While exact details weren't given Herd fans finally got confirmation on three of the many things that were of major concern to Herd fans following Marshall's 60-6 loss to rival Western Kentucky. The first was why was Marshall quarterback Chase Litton not on the sidelines for the Herd's season finale? At the time it was reported to fans that Litton had gotten injured and couldn't play but rumors of team and possibly even legal violations swirled and speculation why the sophomore quarterback wasn't on the sidelines covered basically all of the scandalous bases that could cause a college player to miss a game

Holliday reaffirmed that Litton was in fact injured for the WKU game, but his absence from the stadium was a result of a suspension. Holliday wouldn't go into detail about the violation that Litton committed that resulted in his suspension but did admit that the quarterback has to do a better job on and off the field. 

"You are the face of the program," Holliday said of the quarterback position. "You're expected to be the face of the program both on and off the field." 

So while it appears the rumors of Litton's indiscretion being severe enough that he would leave the program have been overblown, Holliday confirmed that Litton's starting quarterback job is totally up for grabs. 

"We'll go into spring and the quarterback position will be wide opened," Holliday said. "We have guys who will fight for it. There is a lot more that goes into being the quarterback than just throwing and running the offense." 

An open competition between Litton, Garet Morrell, Xavier Gaines and Jackson White was something many Herd fans wanted to see. From a statistical standpoint, Litton's 2016 numbers were solid, but fans felt like Litton may not have had full command of the offense from a leadership perspective and many felt he wasn't the right fit for Legg's zone read-heavy offense. We'll have to wait and see exactly how the battle plays out, but the news that the position is at least open should put some Herd fans at ease, not to mention that competition usually tends to bring out the best in an athlete, so whoever emerges as the starter should be better because of it.  

Finally, Holliday confirmed that changes to the Herd's coaching staff are on the horizon and while he didn't specifically mention any coaches by name he did mention a specific side of the ball. 

"We've got to get more explosive on offense," Holliday said. "We have to, offensively, we'll make some changes. I'm not going to get into what those changes will be at this time but there will be there will be some changes offensively, both staff and personnel." 

This addresses what was probably the biggest concern among Herd fans entering the offseason. But, the biggest thing these announcements did was stymie the flow of rumors. Speculations over player behavior, players transferring, coaches being fired, hired and retiring had reached a crescendo in recent weeks and the longer the rumors and speculations were allowed to flow unfiltered by official statements from the university the more negative and nasty these rumors became. 

Since Holliday's arrival in Huntington the football program has operated with little to no transparency. Details were kept to a minimum and this often left fans in the dark when things like player dismissals or other decisions were made. Hopefully, the recent events and Thursday's willingness to shed a little more light on the program's interworkings will show Holliday that in times of frustration it is best to be as honest with his fanbase as he possibly can be without of course jeopardizing any pertinent information that should remain in-house. Fans donate lots of time and money to the program and have a right to know what is going on in many instances, sure there are times when things need to be handled behind closed doors and away from the public eye, but everything can't be shrouded in secrecy. Hopefully, if nothing else, this offseason has shown the powers that be in the Marshall Athletic Department that much.