WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bill Legg, now Marshall's offensive coordinator, spent five seasons at Purdue under coach Joe Tiller. He ran the offensive line from 2003-05 (concentrating on centers and guards 2004-05) and was co-offensive coordinator from 2006-07.
As the Thundering Herd gets ready to take on the Boilermakers today at Ross-Ade Stadium, it's time for a little tale of the tape: How did the Boilermakers do under the Poca native from 2003-07?
Record-wise, the overall record was 37-26, with one 5-6 season and the rest winners. The Boilermakers went to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., the Sun Bowl in Texas, the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando and the Motor City Bowl in Detroit. The Boilermakers went 1-3 in those, beating Central Michigan 51-48 in Detroit.
Perhaps the most interesting record was the 4-8 mark in 2008, the year after Legg departed for Florida International.
The 2006 Boilermakers led the Big Ten in passing and total offense, then led the league in total offense in 2007. His NFL draft picks: center Nick Hardwick (2004, sixth round, Chargers), tackle Kelly Butler (2004, sixth round, Lions), guard Uche Nwaneri (2005, fifth round, Jaguars), tackle Mike Otto (2007, seventh round, Titans) and tight end Dustin Keller (2008, first round, Jets).
As with the Thundering Herd's game at West Virginia, Legg said he will spend "about 30 seconds" reminiscing about five productive years at West Lafayette. But for three hours or so, he will be reminded of one of the highest coaches/press/luxury box complexes in college football.
"It's got a huge press box, I mean huge," he said. "It runs from goal line to goal line and it's about eight stories tall. My last two years, Coach Tiller asked me to go up there, and it's a freakin' blimp view."
This will be the first of two games on grass for the Herd, which actually is more than some recent years. Since 2005, the Herd always had a game at East Carolina or Central Florida, the last two holdouts in the era of FieldTurf and competing surfaces. (Interestingly, Marshall played in the last grass game at Birmingham's Legion Field in 2006 - the surface was "turfed" during a weeklong lull at the ancient stadium.)
In 1975, near the apex of the AstroTurf craze, two Purdue staffers developed Prescription Athletic Turf, installed at a cost of $125,000. The system featured a network of pipes underneath the surface, designed to properly drain rainwater, even in storms dumping an inch an hour.
"That grounds crew and all the people involved do a marvelous job," Legg said. "Our kids will enjoy going there and playing. I firmly believe that."
Marshall's offense isn't necessarily geared for it, but it wouldn't seem to be a horrible thing for the Herd if today's game came down to a punting duel. But freshman Tyler Williams has a formidable foe in Purdue's Cody Webster.