Chuck Landon: Coaches motivate Marshall with sign
A lone sign hangs in Marshall's football locker room deep within the inner sanctum of the Shewey Building.
Its message is concise, but clear.
There are only two characters. ... 7 and 0.
The reference is to a comment reportedly made by new WVU coach Dana Holgorsen during a Mountaineer Athletic Club dinner late last spring. In a rather brash show of bravado, Holgorsen allegedly stated the Mountaineers were going "to hang 70 points on Marshall."
Ever since, that off-handed statement has served as a motivational theme for Marshall's team as it prepares to play arch-rival WVU at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Morgantown.
Talk about inspiration.
"Oh, we've got a sign hanging up in the locker room," said Marshall's star defensive end Vinny Curry. "The coaches hung that up.
"It just goes to show we've got to work hard because, obviously, to hang 70 they've got to work hard. So, they must be working. That means we have to work harder."
The simplicity of the sign was by design.
"It just says, '70,' " said Curry, a senior captain. "Just 70. That's all it needs to say."
That's all Marshall's players need to see to be reminded of the insult.
"It really gets our attention," said wide receiver Tay Wilson. "I mean, 70 points? C'mon."
Just to make sure his players don't forget the affront -- fat chance, right? -- Marshall coach Doc Holliday regularly reminds them.
"Doc stresses that all the time," said wideout Aaron Dobson. "He says, 'OK, he talks about he's going to hang 70 on us.' We're like, we'll see. That got our attention.
"We were thinking, 'Dang, he really thinks he can drop 70 points on us?' Now, we know what they really think about what type of team we are. So, we're going to go up there and just show them what type of team we really are."
And that's an offensive guy talking. Imagine how Marshall's defensive players feel.
"It's definitely a motivational theme this week," said free safety Omar Brown. "It's been a motivational theme since the team heard about it."
A leaky bee hive couldn't have created the buzz that Holgorsen's slur did.
"Oh, most definitely," said Brown. "To me, it was just disrespectful to our defense as a whole to say you're going to put up 70. That's just not normal to go put up 70 on someone.
"So, we've talked about that a lot. Just the fact that we know that's how he feels, that's enough for us."
Just ask Curry.
Uh, Vin, how fast did that comment get your attention?
"Quick," he replied rapidly. "But it got more than just my attention. It got the whole team's attention. ... offensive players, too. We were hyped up that day."
Dobson can testify to that.
"This doesn't just get to the defensive guys," he said, "but the offensive guys, too, because they're talking about our team. They can talk all they want to, but it's going to be a real good game."
That's because Holgorsen's comment turned this into a respect issue.
"It's disrespectful," said Curry, "but he's known for hanging 70 on other people. So, I have no choice but to respect that. If that's how he feels, it's how he feels.
"But my first thought was, 'Wow!'"
Well, at least, that's the G-rated version. Trust me, the language will be stronger at game time despite it being on a Sunday.
That's what happens when an opposing coach is demeaning.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827. Email him at clandon@herald- dispatch.com.
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