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Landon: Holliday delays hire of defensive coordinator

Jan. 07, 2010 @ 12:06 AM

It's not that hiring a defensive coordinator isn't a priority to Doc Holliday.

It most certainly is.

That's why Marshall's new head football coach is taking his time before adding the final piece to his coaching staff puzzle.

"I've put it on hold," said Holliday. "I'm not going to work on the defensive coordinator position again until next week. It's such a critical hire I want to make sure I get the right guy."

The question is: Just who is the right guy?

Is it Rick Minter?

It appears increasingly unlikely that the former Marshall defensive coordinator and interim head coach for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will be the choice.

Just consider the time frame. If the pick is Minter why wait until next week? There would be no reason to put the hire on hold if it were Minter because he's still right here in Huntington.

Is it Chuck Heater?

The University of Florida defensive coach seems like a longshot. Yes, he is the father-in-law of new Marshall defensive line coach Rich Cronin, but this is business.

That's why Heater reportedly is interested in Michigan's vacant defensive coordinator job. ... and vice-versa. Besides that, there still are rumbles about the possibility of Heater staying with the Gators as co-defensive coordinator.

Is it Mike Cassity?

The Herd's secondary coach could be Holliday's ace-in-the-hole. Besides being an outstanding recruiter in Florida, Cassity also has served as defensive coordinator at eight different schools.

His most recent defensive coordinator job was at Louisville (2004-07) where his defense ranked among the Top 40 in the nation in total defense each season.

Prior to Louisville, Cassity was the defensive coordinator at Illinois for three years.

The rest of the list includes Baylor, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, East Carolina, Northeast Louisiana and Western Kentucky.

So, Cassity obviously has a wealth of experience.

And just imagine the scenario it would create. ... Doc Holliday with "Hopalong" Cassity.

Although defensive coordinator is the most high-profile vacancy on Holliday's staff, it isn't the only opening. MU also needs a new strength and conditioning coach.

That position is expected to be filled Monday.

Two players have left Marshall's program. They are quarterback Jake Laudenslayer, who was redshirted last season after joining the Herd as a junior college transfer, and linebacker Corey Hart, a junior who appeared in only six games last season.

In other player news, defensive tackles Johnny Jones and Brandon Bullock were academically ineligible for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Both are expected to regain their eligibility next semester.

Marshall's new coaching staff is in the midst of a big recruiting week.

"We've got seven guys on the road," said Holliday. "I've got Zach (new wide receivers coach Zach Smith) in the office with me this week.

"It's going really good, really good. There are players out there. We've just got to find the right ones."

Holliday is eager for Marshall's players to return this weekend. Classes begin Monday.

"We're going to have a big meeting on Sunday night," he said.

And the Big Ten opponent is. ... Purdue.

Marshall and the Boilermakers have agreed on a home-and-home series, according to sources. The Herd will play at West Lafayette, Ind., in 2012, then host Purdue in 2017.

And don't be afraid of Purdue not showing at Edwards Stadium.

The contract includes a $500,000 buyout clause.

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

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