Sunday, August 10, 2008

Barnhouse's Bottom 25: Marshall

Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.

No. 21 Marshall
Location: Huntington, W.Va.
Nickname: Thundering Herd.
Conference: Conference USA, East Division.
Coach: Mark Snyder, 12-23, fourth season.
Division I-A history: 512-487-47 in 104 seasons, .512 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2004.
Best record last five years: 8-4 in 2003.
Rank(ed) because: From 1997 to 2002, won five Mid-American Conference titles and produced players like Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. Check the calendar. It's 2008 and the Thundering Herd has stampeded off the national radar.
Negative number: Marshall has lost 16 games the last two seasons. From 1997-2002, the Herd lost 13 games (while winning 65).
Possible victory: Illinois State, Aug. 30. The Herd needs to start with a victory over this I-AA foe. It might be one of the few chances Marshall fans will get to celebrate. (One of last season's losses came to I-AA New Hampshire.)
Biggest blowout: At Wisconsin, Sept. 6. Camp Randall is difficult for any visiting team. The Badgers are capable of winning the Big Ten Conference. They'll be eager to build a point spread the poll voters will notice.
Is there hope?: Snyder has reshuffled his staff (analogy: deck chairs on the Titanic). John Shannon is the new offensive coordinator and Rick Minter is running the defense. Snyder needs a winning season to restore faith of the fans and his bosses. He is pinning his hopes on a talented group of juniors, sophomores and freshmen.

Thanks to the Helmet Project.

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