HUNTINGTON — Marshall head football coach Charles Huff isn’t necessarily one for reminiscing and he’s not one for ceremony.
As Marshall’s spring football practice hits its midway point this week, Huff was asked about being a first-year coach and the emotions it brings.
Huff’s made clear his stance on the pomp and circumstance associated with the new position.
“The parade is over, the band has played,” Huff said. “We’ve gone through the town, we threw candy out, everybody is going home now and it’s time to go to work. If we stay at the parade site, it’s going to be a very unsuccessful season.”
Huff was quick to voice his appreciation for those who congratulated him on the new position, but he also reaffirmed that part of the reason he was brought in was to achieve a new level of success, which can’t be attained if you are too busy celebrating the past.
Instead, his focus is on the future and getting Marshall ready for the 2021 season one day at a time.
On Saturday, that involved the team’s first on-field scrimmage, which allowed the chance to run through the new schemes and concepts for the first time.
Huff knows he has inherited a talented team — one that was nationally ranked at one point last season. He’s seen that through the early portion of practice.
The first-year head coach also knows that his team has a long way to go to reach expectations for the 2021 season.
That’s why he is less focused on the team’s talent this spring; instead, staying locked in on the fine details that take good teams to championship levels.
If those areas are to be remedied and Marshall is to close the gap — his theme for the year — then there is no time for Huff to be looking over his shoulder at who is patting him on the back for his first head coaching gig.
“When you have that mindset, you’re not looking around the indoor (facility) or the stadium saying, ‘Wow,’” Huff said. “You’re looking at the footwork of the left guard, you’re looking at the drop of the D-end (defensive end), the leverage of the DB (defensive back), you’re looking at the arm angle of the quarterback and you’re saying, ‘How can I help that guy get better?’”
The best way to accomplish that for Huff is through repetition, and with Huff’s tempo, there will be more repetitions in spring practice than normally accounted for, which means guys will have the scheme drilled into their brains at game speed from the onset of learning the system.
Coming from the University of Alabama, Huff’s goals are by no means small for Marshall’s program.
Huff wants to make Marshall a national collegiate football brand that those around the nation want to cling to.
That’s why every detail — from scheme to tempo to gameday atmosphere and community and student involvement — is crucial in the success of his program.
“I’ve got to find a way to put a product on the field that is consistent, so that everybody from here to California wants to come watch us play,” Huff said. “That’s my goal, and that’s a daily strive to close that gap.”
For now, Huff has two more weeks to refine the on-field product before moving into the offseason summer conditioning.
Huff has said he sees how his team has bought in to his philosophy, and now it’s time to push his team harder and squeeze more out of them than has ever been expected before in their Marshall career.
For Huff, it gets down to one simple concept: that is the only way to achieve success.
Success is cyclical, too.
For example, success in the weight room leads to success on the field, which breeds success in winning over the community, which creates greater success for the program’s future — both in wins and dollars.
Huff knows college football is a business. More important, though, it is his business, and his success is contingent on those around him executing the plan.
“I tell the players all the time, we’ll be as good as they decide to be,” Huff said. “When they decide the little things matter, consistency is important, execution is the only way, the stadium will be full. Until then, I still may be juggling and going by Sheetz begging people to come.”
Huff said that each day as a head coach is a blessing, but it is a gift that he doesn’t plan on wasting, either.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful, appreciative, humbled, and couldn’t be more excited every day I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to come to the building,” Huff said. “But I understand when I do get up, there’s work to be done. There’s work to be done, obviously on the field with X’s and O’s, there’s work to be done organizationally, there’s work to be done in this community.