HANG ONTO your Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl souvenirs for dear life, for Camp Doc III is about to commence.
When Marshall begins its split-squad practices at 9:45 a.m. today, it embarks on its eighth season in Conference USA, and Holliday will begin in earnest his new role as one of the league's elder statesmen.
No kidding. George O'Leary of Central Florida and Mike Price of Texas-El Paso are the co-deans in their ninth seasons. After that, you have sixth-year man David Bailiff at Rice and fifth-year man June Jones at Southern Methodist. With five new coaches on board, Holliday's tenure has rocketed to No. 5.
(Pardon me for looking ahead, but Mario Cristobal is entering his sixth year at Florida International and Sonny Dykes his third at Louisiana Tech. C-USA will lose O'Leary and Jones.)
We'll see how much wisdom Holliday has gained from his first two seasons on the Thundering Herd sideline. That's not a jab - to the contrary, I thought the Herd's three-win finish was a validation of his staff's efforts.
Say what you will about Marshall's hold-your-nose win over Memphis, the overtime thriller against East Carolina and the ugly win over Florida International, but the Herd finished strong in all three. Does that happen in the previous regime?
This MU season stands to be more interesting than preseason predictions, which are almost unanimous: Bowl-banned Central Florida wins the East, followed by Southern Mississippi, Marshall/East Carolina, blah Alabama-Birmingham and worse-than-blah Memphis. In the West, it's Houston, Tulsa, SMU and the other three.
Let's float a few predictions on the Herd, wrap them up for a few months and dust them off in December. Away we go:
With his defensive roots, Holliday doesn't want to hear that. But this team has too much skill and too many questions on defense to win a bunch of 23-22 games.
It will be fun watching ex-Herd QB Eddie Sullivan running the Edwards Stadium turf without a red jersey, in a morbid way. The Herd will be home underdogs against the Bobcats, but should show up angry enough to win. Memphis and UAB are ... Memphis and UAB.