HUNTINGTON — On Jan. 4, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday was told his contract would not be renewed by the university.
Holliday stayed quiet about the situation until Monday — one week to the day after he lost his position as head coach after 11 years of leading the Herd.
For starters, the notion that Holliday possibly did not want to return to the Marshall sidelines in 2021 was answered.
“I would like to have gone out on my own terms,” Holliday said by phone on Monday. “To answer the question, I would have liked to have done that. I wasn’t ready, at that point, to walk away from it. I always felt that when I didn’t enjoy it anymore and I didn’t get up every morning with a smile on my face wanting to go to work, that it was time to walk away and I wasn’t there.”
Holliday, who has been in coaching for four decades, said he would be patient in a decision on his future in coaching. He confirmed there have been several inquiries for his availability since news came last week of his exit from Marshall.
The Hurricane native has always been a proud West Virginian, and he said that one thing about his time in coaching is that much of it has come in his home state, which is a rarity in the coaching profession.
Holliday has coached in 509 games in his 40-year career, including 28 bowl games, with 410 of those games coming during his 32 combined years at West Virginia and Marshall (21 at West Virginia, 11 at Marshall).
“At the end of the day, there’s probably not a coach in the history of West Virginia that’s coached that many Division I games here,” Holliday said. “The important thing is how fortunate that I’ve been to be able to do that.”
Perhaps that longevity, plus Marshall’s early 2020 success during a pandemic, is what made it a surprise when Holliday’s contract was not renewed. At one point in 2020, Marshall was ranked No. 15 in both major polls after a 7-0 start. However, three consecutive losses ended Holliday’s final season.
In his social media statement on Jan. 4, Holliday said that it was the decision of Marshall University president Jerome Gilbert that his contract was not being renewed.
Sources say Hamrick went to Marshall’s Board of Governors to request a contract extension during the for Holliday, but that request was denied.
As Holliday pointed out in speaking with MetroNews’ Hoppy Kercheval on Monday morning, news of Gilbert’s decision was confirmed to him by Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick — not Gilbert himself.
Holliday also confirmed that by phone on Monday afternoon.
“I’ve never talked to Gilbert,” Holliday said. “Gilbert never talked to me at all. I was told by Mike that Gilbert made the decision.”
Hamrick was unavailable for comment and Gilbert’s office issued a statement in response to a request for an interview.
“President Gilbert will not be doing any interviews on this subject because it is a personnel issue,” the statement said.
Last week’s announcement was an unceremonious end for a coach who had seen success on the field during his 11 years at Marshall, going 85-54 in 139 games.
That included Holliday being named Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2020 — the second time during his tenure he earned that honor. Holliday also won the honor in 2014 when he led Marshall to the Conference USA Championship and a 13-1 record.
Marshall represented Conference USA’s East Division in the league championship game three times and he had winning seasons in eight of 11 seasons at the helm.
No matter the circumstance, Holliday said he’s been blessed to be Marshall’s coach for the last 11 years and he wants to see continued success for the Herd in the future.
“The one thing I always told every player I coached is the worst thing that can ever happen to you in life is look back and have regrets,” Holliday said. “I can honestly say I can look back at my entire career and say I don’t have any regrets.”