HUNTINGTON — As soon as it was announced that Marshall head coach Doc Holliday would not return, speculation started as to who would be his successor.
One name that came up was Chad Pennington, the former Marshall quarterback great who led the Herd to its most successful campaign in school history during the 1999 season when the Herd went 13-0 and finished No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll.
For years, many of Marshall’s fans have wanted to see Pennington in a coaching role for the Herd, so when news of the head coaching opening came about, his name was instantly thrust into the spotlight.
On Wednesday, Pennington made clear that he is not in the mix to become the Herd’s next head coach.
“I am flattered that some would think of me for the (Marshall) HC opening,” Pennington’s tweet said at 9:05 a.m. on Wednesday. “However, at this time, my support for our program will remain from afar. I am grateful for Doc Holliday & his commitment to our program.”
After his NFL career ended in 2011, Pennington continued to be an ambassador to the league while continuing his charitable work and also serving as co-executive director of NFL Legends.
There were also several ventures that included everything from working within the media for NFL broadcasts, being involved in corporate speaking and investing, as well as being a stock contractor.
Pennington’s most recent venture, however, included starting up the football program at Sayre School in Lexington, Kentucky.
Sayre is a small school that, at the time of his hire, did not field a football program.
Pennington started the program from scratch, compiling a 3-5 record against a junior varsity schedule in his first season before going 1-7 in the first full varsity season of action in 2019.
However, Sayre had one of Kentucky’s best turnarounds this season as the Spartans went 8-1.
Sayre went undefeated in the regular season, advancing to the Class 1A playoffs, where his team fell in the first round against Pikeville.
The turnaround for Sayre only fueled the fire that Pennington may end up in the mix for a collegiate coaching job, but logistically there are several factors against it.
Pennington and his wife, Robin, have three boys — Cole, Luke and Gage.
Cole is the eldest and had led Sayre’s turnaround season. He has several offers as a quarterback in the Class of 2022, including one from Marshall.
Luke is also a part of Sayre’s football program while Gage is a bit younger.
Football is a major part of the Pennington family’s life, as it always has been, but for right now, that will not involve a transition for Pennington into the college coaching realm.
That doesn’t mean he is looking away from the Marshall head coaching position.
Instead, Pennington is tuned in to the process and offered his thoughts on how integral establishing the next head coach is for the success of the program in his final post regarding the matter.
“It is time for the search committee to lay aside all egos & agendas,” Pennington said. “Hiring the right HC candidate is crucial. Our story, our community, our future depend upon it. Build relationships, Play for Championships! Protect the M!!”
Marshall has a search committee in place to find Holliday’s replacement.
The university’s release on the hiring process said that committee will recommend the candidate to university President Jerry Gilbert, who will present a contract to the Board of Governors for approval.