Let’s have a rousing round of the name game.
Since it hasn’t been played in these parts for 11 years, it’s all right if everybody feels a little rusty.
While everyone is warming up, permit me to acquaint everybody with some guidelines:
- Chad Pennington is out of bounds. Marshall University fans can dream to their hearts’ fondest desire, but this simply isn’t going to happen. Pennington already has a job — coaching his sons. That’s the ultimate trump card.
- Byron Leftwich is ineligible. While the song “Dream On” by Aerosmith plays in the background, I’ll explain. The former Marshall star quarterback is banking a lot of money in the NFL, currently as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator. He is on the fast track toward becoming an NFL head coach. We won’t see Leftwich back in Huntington for a long time.
Now that I’ve sufficiently rained on everybody’s parade, let’s continue.
The first order of business that needs to happen is Marshall defensive coordinator Brad Lambert should be named interim head coach. He has earned that title. Besides, MU needs someone to keep the program afloat during the job search.
Also, it’s important to note this designation doesn’t preclude Lambert from applying for the full-time job.
There are going to be some young applicants, who simply need and want the experience of being interviewed for a major college football head coaching job.
That’s the case with Ricky Brumfield, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at the University of Virginia. Brumfield spent seven years at Fairmont State College and has family in West Virginia.
Then, there’s Marty Biagi, who is fondly remembered as Marshall’s former punter and placekicker (2004-07). Biagi has logged some big-time experience at Notre Dame, North Texas and, now, at Purdue. He is the Boilermakers’ special teams coordinator and defensive assistant.
As a son of Marshall, Biagi deserves an interview.
Now let’s step the game up a notch.
Among potential candidates, who are drawing numerous mentions, there is former MU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Ja’Juan Seider. He coached for the Herd in 2010-12. Since then, Seider has been running backs coach at West Virginia University (2013-16), Florida (2017) and Penn State (2018-present).
If Seider asks for an interview, he should be granted one.
The same situation applies to Mike Furrey, who is currently the NFL Chicago Bears’ wide receivers coach. Furrey was Marshall’s wide receivers coach in 2013-15 and, along with his wife, made a significant impact on Huntington with their charitable endeavors. He is a class act.
Then, there’s the no-brainer on the list — Gerad Parker. The native of Louisa, Kentucky, is an up-and-coming young coach, who was Marshall’s wide receivers coach in 2011-12. Parker is WVU’s offensive coordinator.
If Parker would agree to accept the Marshall job, it would be a slam-dunk hire.
But wait, the game isn’t over.
We haven’t gotten to the sleepers yet.
Remember Gunter Brewer? The veteran offensive mind was Marshall’s wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator in 1996-99. Since then, the 56-year-old Brewer has coached at North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss.
His latest gigs have been with the NFL Philadelphia Eagles and, currently, as Louisville’s wide receivers coach. Brewer deserves an interview.
Finally, there’s my ultimate sleeper, Jay Hopson. He was MU’s secondary coach in 1996-2000. The personable Hopson left his mark on the community.
He coached at Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Michigan and Memphis before becoming Alcorn State’s head coach in 2012. That’s where Hopson’s story becomes really remarkable.
Not only was he the first white head coach in the history of Southwestern Athletic Conference, which is composed entirely of historically black schools, Hopson also was enormously successful.
He had a 32-17 overall record, but won the league in 2014 and ’15 with records of 10-2 and 9-4.
Next, Hopson became Southern Miss’ head coach and produced four consecutive winning records in 2016-19. Part of those winning records were three consecutive victories over Marshall — 24-14 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 2016; 28-27 in Huntington in 2017; and 26-24 in Hattiesburg in 2018.
Considering the Herd never was able to defeat Hopson, it sounds like a smart idea to give him an interview.
That concludes this edition of the name game.
Feel free to play along at home.