Chuck Landon: Holliday's team-first move gets attention
"Marshall Bob" is going to be selling a lot more programs at Marshall's football games at Edwards Stadium this season.
Is he ever.
Talk about not knowing the players without a program.
Herd head coach Doc Holliday gave new life to that old sports axiom Thursday night during the annual "Paint The Capital City Green" festivities in Charleston.
That's when he surprisingly announced that Marshall's players wouldn't have their names on the backs of their jerseys this season.
Apparently, that hasn't been the case at Marshall for 21 years. According to Marshall equipment manager Rich Worner, the last time the Thundering Herd's jerseys were surname-less was during a 14-7 win over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 14, 1991, in the NCAA Division I-A semifinals.
Now, 274 games later, the backs of Marshall's jerseys will be nameless again when the Herd hosts long-time rival Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 in the season-opener at Edwards Stadium.
The first clue occurred when the billboards and schedule posters appeared this summer with the motto "We Play For The Name On The Front" emblazoned across them.
Then, when Marshall's players wore their game uniforms for the annual "Fan Day" on Aug. 11 at Edwards Stadium and there were no names on the backs of their jerseys, it got even more suspicious.
So, it appeared to be merely a matter of time until Holliday revealed this stratagem.
That time was Thursday night.
And it got an abundance of immediate reaction. Some feedback was positive, but most of the responses were negative.
Here is a sampling from Twitter.
"Doc Holliday announces no names on the back of the jerseys in 2013. They are playing for the name on the front. FINALLY!!!!"
"I get the sentiment, but to me it's a high school move. If you can't get motivated & play hard every Saturday, then quit."
"I am getting my name on my jersey this year just to make the players jealous. ... stupid trick Doc. ... just sayin."
"We should have 'Protect the M' on back of green jerseys, and 'Go Herd' on white jerseys."
"Sorry gang, but I am NEVER impressed with that. If you can't handle your name on the back of your jersey, go play D-2."
"Totally agree man! No names on the back is stupid. I want to know who these guys are when I see them."
"Guess I'm the only one that's thrilled that Doc is removing names from the back of Herd jerseys. Little things sometimes make a big difference."
"At the end of the day, I don't care if Marshall's jerseys are pink and say 'Holgorsen' on the back. Just win baby."
It's hard to disagree or not laugh aloud at that last "Tweet," yet I find myself in the minority.
I like this ploy.
When Holliday and I discussed the no-name premise after practice Thursday morning, I told Doc I thought it was a great idea.
Because it sends a message. In this individualistic day of look-at-me, look-at-me athletes who tend to say "I" a lot more than "we," embracing the team concept is a refreshing blast from the past.
It's a not so subtle reminder of the big picture.
Is it a little gimmicky? Sure. But sometimes gimmicks succeed.
That's why this move is worth a try.
Not to mention the revenue from program sales.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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