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MU fans anxious to win again

Nov. 30, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Word of the resignation of Marshall football coach Mark Snyder spread quickly around town Sunday afternoon, leaving restaurants abuzz with chatter.

The consensus agreed that the morale of the town had gone down and that it was attributed to one thing and one thing only -- the lack of winning.

"It was time for them to move on to something different," said Harold Sanders of Huntington. "When (Snyder) started, he promised us we would have a winning team in five years and we finished at .500. That's not winning. I feel it's for the better of the community and the university that we look to get back to our winning tradition."

Sanders sat and discussed Marshall football over Sunday dinner at the Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe.

As Sanders sat at his booth, memorabilia surrounded him commemorating the success of several winning seasons -- from NFL jerseys of former Marshall players to action photos of conference championships and bowl games.

The dining party noted that none of the pictures hanging on the wall were from the Snyder era.

While losses were wearing thin on Thundering Herd fans, the lack of a connection with Snyder was also a topic of concern during an on-going conversation at Fat Patty's shortly after the announced resignation.

Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said that will be a point of emphasis with the search for the Herd's next football coach.

"The head football coach at Marshall University has to be active in this Huntington community and in the Charleston community -- from here and clear down I-64," Hamrick said. "Our next head coach will understand that."

Huntington's Regina Fitzpatrick said that would go a long way with the community, but not as far as wins and bowl game appearances.

"We are used to being in that national spotlight and seeing those ESPN trucks," Fitzpatrick said. "We haven't seen that here in a long time. Hopefully, we can get a coach in here and start winning and see more of those trucks again."

As the 2009 season went on, fans decided to speak their opinion on the state of Marshall football by leaving Joan C. Edwards Stadium silent on game-day.

At the beginning of November, Marshall sat at 5-3 and in need of just one win to secure bowl eligibility.

That fact still wasn't enough to entice people to go to the stadium as 21,036 spectators watched the Herd fall 27-20 to Southern Miss on Nov. 14 and 19,646 sat in the stands as the team gained bowl eligibility with a 34-31 win over SMU on Nov. 21.

Combine the two attendance figures and you get 40,682 -- just 2,663 more than the capacity of the stadium for one game. That means the stands were barely half-filled for each game.

Huntington's Demeley Smith said her parents were among the many who decided to quit buying season tickets after seeing the futility of the program under Snyder.

"My parents are devout Marshall fans who had season tickets for years, but they canceled them last year because they want a winning team," Smith said. "As soon as my Dad heard Snyder was done, he told my mom 'Okay. Let's get the tickets for next year.'

"We are looking forward to hopefully seeing a winning team with a new coach. I personally wish Snyder the best. He is a nice guy, but that doesn't make you the best coach."

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