Marshall signs home-and-home with North Carolina State
HUNTINGTON -- Considerable news came out of Marshall University's athletic department Thursday afternoon when athletic director Mike Hamrick announced the Thundering Herd had inked a home-and-home football series with N.C. State.
Marshall will travel to Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 9, 2017. N.C. State will return the trip on Sept. 22, 2018.
For Hamrick, it marked an exciting time as the Herd signed for its first-ever home-and-home series with an Atlantic Coast Conference member.
"There's thousands of Marshall alums in North Carolina, so you throw it all together -- it's regional, there are alums there, it's a Power 5 conference school with a great tradition -- and it makes it a worthwhile partnership for us," Hamrick said.
The addition of N.C. State gives Marshall three schools in a four-year span from 2015 to 2018 from Power 5 conferences coming to Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
In addition to N.C. State in 2018, Big Ten member Purdue comes to Huntington in 2015 while Louisville comes in 2016 for a game that was originally supposed to be played this season. Louisville is a new member of the ACC, but at the time the home-and-home deal with the Herd was signed, the Cardinals were a member of the Big East.
Consistently getting big-name opponents to Huntington has been a goal of Hamrick's since he came to Marshall and he's happy to see it come to fruition.
"Especially now with the money we've generated with the Vision Campaign and the loyal season ticket holders, we want them to see good quality football teams come to Huntington," Hamrick said. "Our non-conference schedule in the future is really falling together very nicely. It's balanced, it's regional and there are quality-name opponents from Power 5 conferences on one-for-one terms."
Hamrick compared scheduling to a puzzle, saying there are many variables to determining which is the right piece.
He also cited the challenges facing Marshall to get teams to Huntington. In addition to the Herd being so successful at home (118-19 record at Joan C. Edwards Stadium), Hamrick mentioned travel difficulties for flights and the fact that Huntington is not a highly-recruited area for coaches to come as some of those factors.
"When you are trying to get other teams to schedule you, they take all those things into consideration," he said.
Despite those difficulties, Hamrick has not deviated from his scheduling philosophy and put the Herd in adverse situations just to get big-name teams to Huntington.
"My philosophy is home-and-home," Hamrick said. "No 2-for-1s, no 3-for-1s, no 5-for-2s because, in my opinion, that's not good for your football program. Now, would I go on the road in the future and play one game for a big guarantee? Yes, if I had possibly seven home games or something along those lines."
While Hamrick spoke of the difficulties of scheduling, he added that the new NCAA playoff system and Marshall's status in the college football ranks as a top Group of Five team can help in future scheduling with big teams.
He also said scheduling N.C. State opens a potential pathway for other schools to follow.
"Will it help? That remains to be seen, but it sure doesn't hurt you," Hamrick said. "When an N.C. State comes in here, our TV partners will pick that game up immediately. They come in knowing that they get some pluses, too. They get a quality opponent on TV that is regional and, with the playoff, they have to play good teams, so it fits those needs for them, too.
"If you are a Power 5 school and you are going to play somebody out of a Group of 5 conference, you probably want to play the best. It doesn't hurt that we won the (Conference USA) East Division and beat Maryland in a bowl game last year or the preseason predictions. Our football program has a lot of respect and we are relevant again, so that helps in scheduling."
NOT-SO-BIG CHEESE: Updated weights for the football players came through on Thursday afternoon and revealed some interesting
The most interesting observation is that of former South Charleston standout and current Marshall offensive lineman Blake Brooks.
On July 16, Brooks weighed 320 pounds.
On Tuesday, Brooks -- also known as "The Big Cheese" -- weighed in at 299 pounds.
That's 21 pounds in 20 days for Brooks.
CATO FOR HEISMAN: A film crew from CBS Sports Network was at Thursday practice to get footage of Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato was named as the C-USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and as a Heisman Trophy candidate, which has spiked an interest from national media outlets.
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.