CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- LAST WEEK at Marshall's "Paint the Capital City Green" pep rally, some of the 28 players attending received an unexpected history lesson.
Those 20- to 25-year-olds entered the event excited about the end of preseason camp and looking forward to the opening game against Miami (Ohio). They get to play a rare opener at home, against a different opponent.
(This is the first time Marshall has faced an FBS opponent at home in the opener since 2004, against Troy.)
Fifth-year senior Jordan Jeffries was set straight about the history between the Thundering Herd and the RedHawks.
"There's no love lost for the RedHawks, that's for sure," Jeffries said. "We went to 'Paint the Capital City Green,' and everybody there, especially a lot of the older guys said, 'We hate them, they hate us, it's a mutual thing.' And they're glad to see that we're playing them again."
Pardon the youngsters who don't know the depth of that sentiment. It has been eight years since the teams last played as Mid-American Conference rivals, so some freshmen might not have been 10 years old yet.
It has been 11 years since one Miami assistant coach was arrested and another should have been. Twelve since Byron Leftwich somehow caught a touchdown pass in Oxford, 16 since Yager Stadium ran out of concession food by halftime, 37 since the Herd's shocking upset of the 20th-ranked Redskins and 42 since the Young Thundering Herd suffered the infamous 66-6 indignity.
My, oh my, where have the years gone?
It's tough to gauge how much extra emotion this game, 7 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards, will contain. I mean, the Herd should be hyped up for anybody this week, from any level of college football - with higher expectations colliding with the disdain over last season, players should be ready to run through a concrete wall.
And really, will Miami fans care? Students wore borderline obscene anti-Marshall shirts back in 2003 and the MU basketball team was once escorted by Butler County sheriff's deputies, but do those folks remember? Do they have the same nose-in-the-air disdain for Marshall? Will they even bring 100 fans?
I don't know.