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Chuck Landon: Herd gets help from Chad with everything

May. 30, 2013 @ 12:08 AM

There isn't a street, building or park in Huntington named after Chad Pennington.

Yet.

But it is merely a matter of time.

Considering the impact this former Marshall football star has made on Marshall athletics, Marshall as a university and the entire community of Huntington, it's inevitable.

Who could possibly be more deserving?

And I'm not just referring to Pennington's well documented acts of philanthropy. Nearly everyone is aware of the 1st And 10 Foundation that Chad and his wife, Robin, administer. It awards grants to charitable organizations throughout southern West Virginia and eastern Tennessee.

Then, there is the Marshall athletic department's Vision Campaign. Again, most people know Pennington and former Herd basketball star Mike D'Antoni serve as co-chairmen for the fund-raising efforts to build Marshall's new soccer complex and indoor practice facility.

And, as usual, Pennington has done a superlative job. Marshall certainly couldn't have had the groundbreaking ceremony for the indoor practice facility without his efforts.

What people don't realize, however, is the impact Pennington makes behind the scenes when the television lights aren't glaring, the photographers' cameras aren't clicking and the media's tape recorders aren't running.

A prime example is the post and photographs current Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato recently placed on the timeline of his Facebook page. Atop side-by-side photos of him and Pennington in action, Cato wrote, "Me and the man who I have grown close to. My big brother from a different mother. He is a man that you can grow to be. I call him chad p."

Could any post speak more volumes?

Pennington has been a mentor to Cato, reaching out to the often emotional Miami, Fla., native as only another quarterback could. And Cato has listened because he respects and trusts Pennington.

Neither one of those emotions come easily for Cato. But Pennington has won him over to such a significant extent that now Cato is reciprocating by reaching out to Chad.

Just how meaningful is that?

Then, there's Doc Holliday.

Pennington is also an informal adviser and sometimes sounding board for Marshall's head football coach. Another prime example? Look no further than the hiring of Mike Furrey as the Herd's wide receivers coach.

Furrey and Pennington were acquainted because they both played in the NFL during the 2000-2010 time frame. And they have similar philosophies about life. Like Pennington, Furrey also has his own charitable foundation.

So, when Holliday was looking for an assistant coach, Pennington recommended Furrey.

At first, Holliday resisted. He was interested in Chris Beatty, who had been West Virginia University's running backs coach for three years. But Beatty was hired by Wisconsin in February.

When Pennington continued to lobby for Furrey, Holliday finally relented and gave the former Kentucky Christian head coach an interview. And, sure enough, Furrey was so extraordinary Holliday immediately hired him.

"Chad Pennington had a lot to do with that," admitted Holliday during spring practice. "I didn't know Mike, to be honest with you. Chad called me and asked me to talk to him. I did it as a favor to Chad. And I got him in here and was so impressed I hired the guy."

That's vintage Chad.

Whether it's behind the scenes or in the spotlight, he continually impacts our community.

We are lucky to have him.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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