CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I've known Marshall football coach Doc Holliday for many years.
I once followed him on a Miami recruiting trip for a story. I attended the MU press conference when he was named head coach - and observed how moved he was to be given the opportunity.
I like Doc Holliday. I think he's a good man.
And I know he won't mind when I say this: It's time.
It's time for Holliday to make a mark as a head coach. It's time for Marshall to prove it can be a football winner in Conference USA. It's time to establish a brand.
This year. This season.
The Thundering Herd was picked in the C-USA coaches' poll to finish second to East Carolina in the East Division.
But the schedule sets up well for MU. See, ECU visits Huntington on Nov. 29. And the days of murderous non-conference schedules are gone. The WVU series is over. There is no lineup of WVU, Virginia Tech and Louisville.
In fact, Marshall should have a shot at beating Tech - its only big-name non-conference opponent - this year. In ACC preseason poll voting, the Hokies received but one of a possible 120 votes to finish as the league champion.
Yes, Virginia Tech still has more talent. But the Hokies' best player - possible first-round NFL pick Antone Exum - tore up his knee and might not be back for the MU game. Quarterback Logan Thomas is a possible third- or fourth-round pick. Otherwise ...
Let's just say it shouldn't be a banner year for Tech. In sum, if Marshall is ever going to make a mark under Holliday in Blacksburg, this is the year.
Overall, the Thundering Herd can and should do very well against its schedule.