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Chuck Landon: Herd losing trend a sad reminder of glory days

Oct. 08, 2012 @ 11:25 PM

Everybody is frustrated.

You, me, Aaron Dobson, the Herd Universe, Rakeem Cato, the pizza delivery guy ... everybody.

Not just because Marshall has a disappointing 2-4 record, either.

Sure, that factors into it. Particularly in light of expectations the Herd might not lose four games all season.

Remember Doc Holliday's classic quote at Conference USA's media day in July?

"Lots of people say we're going 8-4," said Marshall's third-year head coach. "I say which four are we going to lose?"

Well, as it turns out the answer is WVU, Ohio, Purdue, Tulsa and counting.

But, therein, lies the greater frustration.

Two of those four losses were in the once intimidating confines of Joan C. Edwards Stadium. That's the source of the real frustration. And that's because there was a time not so long ago that the Herd very seldom lost a home game.

Look it up.

During Edwards Stadium's first 14 years of existence, Marshall teams coached by Jim Donnan, and, then Bobby Pruett lost five games in "The Joan."

That's all, five.

From 1991 through 2004, Marshall posted a 101-5 record at home. That's a winning percentage of .953, and for years Edwards Stadium was the winningest venue in major college football.

But not anymore.

And that's what is so gallingly frustrating.

Now, the Edwards Stadium record stands at 127-22 (.827) with 17 of those 22 defeats occurring in the last eight seasons.

The decline began when Pruett retired and Mark Snyder was hired as head coach. From 2005 through 2009, Snyder compiled a pedestrian 17-12 record (.586) at home.

Since Holliday was hired in 2010, the record has improved to 9-5 (.643). But, now, Marshall is saddled with a 1-2 home record in 2012, including a two-game home losing streak after dropping very winnable games to Ohio and Tulsa.

With a visit from UCF still looming ahead on Oct. 27, there's a disconcerting chance that this edition of the Herd could tie the Edwards Stadium record for consecutive losses with three.

The only time that has happened was when the Snyder-coached Herd lost to WVU, New Hampshire and Southern Miss in the first three home games of the 2007 season.

And, now, Marshall has a very disturbing chance of duplicating that dubious distinction.

That shows just how far the dominance of Edwards Stadium has diminished.

How sad.

Why, the grand lady herself, the late Joan C. Edwards, was more intimidating.

That's why everybody is justified in feeling frustrated.

This simply isn't supposed to happen. Not in Edwards Stadium. Not in "The Joan." That's where the hopes of opponents are supposed to come to die.

But somehow, some way it has gotten reversed.

The only silver lining is Marshall's players share the fans' angst.

"I don't like losing period," said Dobson, Marshall's star senior wide receiver. "But losing at home with Marshall's tradition of not losing at 'The Joan,' we've got to fix that."

Otherwise, the frustration will start showing at the turnstiles.

"We have to win not only for ourselves, but for the people out there," Cato pointed out. "They don't have to come to our games. Sooner or later, we have to win.

"We have to win for those people or they aren't going to come to our games."

Cato's comment was as eloquent as it was accurate.

There are only two stadiums in major college football named exclusively for women. The other is South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Gamecocks are defending "The Martha."

The Herd needs to do the same for "The Joan."

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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