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Chuck Landon: Staff changes on Marshall’s football team raises a flag

Jan. 15, 2013 @ 12:09 AM

If this is Tuesday, then there must be more changes on Marshall’s football coaching staff.

Yep, sure enough.

There is the official release from Marshall that Chuck Heater has been hired as the Herd’s new defensive coordinator, replacing Chris Rippon, who was given a chance to resign.

Also, there’s a story elsewhere in The Herald-Dispatch sports section detailing the departure of Joe Miday, Marshall’s strength and conditioning head coach.

Miday is leaving to accept a similar position at Western Kentucky. If that seems like a lateral move or even a move down to a Sun Belt Conference school, it’s because it is.

Except, that is, for one undeniable premise.

Perhaps, Miday is merely hitching his wagon to a star by the name of Bobby Petrino. Does anybody actually expect the former Arkansas coach to spend more than a couple of years as the Hilltoppers’ head coach?

Of course not.

So, maybe Miday is gambling that when Petrino inevitably gets another big-time job, he will take Joe with him.

If so, then that’s a smart move by Miday.

As for Marshall, the amount of movement on the football coaching staff during the last two weeks is starting to become a concern.

First, Tony Petersen left for Louisiana Tech. His coaching and technique expertise, not to mention Petersen’s heritage as one of Marshall’s all-time quarterback greats, makes him impossible to replace.

Offensive coordinator Bill Legg already has shifted from his tight end responsibilities to coaching the quarterbacks, according to sources.

Next, Heater was brought in to fix Marshall’s horrendous defense. He remains a great hire at defensive coordinator. Then, cornerbacks coach Lytrel Pollard resigned after only one season to return to his alma mater, Southern Miss.

The impact of Pollard’s departure was negated by the fact Heater will coach the Herd’s cornerbacks.

There’s still a vacancy at the crucial linebackers coaching position, however. The smart money is on Marshall head coach Doc Holliday hiring his old buddy Steve Dunlap for that job, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Offensively, Legg’s move to quarterbacks coach creates an opening for a new tight ends coach. Also, there are persistent rumors about JaJuan Seider, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, and Gerad Parker, wide receivers coach, possibly leaving.

If either one departed, it would be a crucial loss.

That’s because Holliday is heading into his fourth season as Herd head coach.

For any coach, the fourth year is a make-or-break proposition. But it’s particularly true for Holliday after Marshall’s very disappointing 5-7 season in 2011. That dropped his overall record at Marshall to 17-20.

So, under the circumstances, the last thing a coach needs heading into the all-important fourth year is instability on his coaching staff.

Yet, that’s exactly the case at Marshall.

Defensively, there will be a new coordinator, new linebackers coach, new cornerbacks coach and a second-year line coach. Offensively, there will be a new quarterbacks coach, new tight end coach and second-year line coach.

There also will be a new strength and conditioning head coach, the fifth in four years.

Has any football program in Conference USA, other than ones who changed head coaches, had this much transition on their staff?

I don’t think so.

n MCMANUS UPDATE: The good news is highly rated wide receiver Deontay McManus enrolled at Marshall and attended classes Monday. The bad news is he’s an academic non-qualifier and won’t be eligible until the spring semester of 2014.

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

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