HUNTINGTON -- When Allen Meadows was a Scott High School senior in Madison, W.Va., he performed well enough on the football field to draw a look from college coaches. One school hoping to land the then 195-pounder lineman was West Virginia and coach Bobby Bowden.
Meadows made a recruiting visit to Morgantown on Nov. 14, 1970, and watched the Mountaineers beat Syracuse, 28-19. His brother, Morris, was a student there, and after the game they went with friends to a big party. It was at that party Meadows first received word about the Marshall plane crash.
"Someone comes in the room and tells us about the Marshall plane crash," Meadows said Tuesday night prior to the Thundering Herd's game against Southern Miss at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. "The conversation turned to disbelief. Everybody was in a daze. You think about the impact it will have on Marshall."
The plane bringing the Herd back from a 17-14 loss to East Carolina crashed short of the runway at Tri-State Airport in Kenova on that dreary Saturday night and all 75 on board died.
During basketball season, Meadows made a recruiting trip to Marshall. He went to a basketball game at Veterans Memorial Field House and saw Thundering Herd standouts Mike D'Antoni, Russell Lee, Randy Noll and Tyrone Collins. He was introduced at halftime and received a loud ovation from fans at the packed field house.
"After my mom met Red (interim head coach Red Dawson), she wanted me to come here," Meadows said.
The original thought was Meadows, who also played basketball, would sign with WVU.
"Growing up in southern West Virginia, you think Morgantown," he said. "Jerry West was my idol. Bobby Bowden's at WVU recruiting you and he's like a God."
When decision day came, Meadows selected Marshall and a career with the Young Thundering Herd as the team was called the first four years after the crash. He started as a freshman in 1972 and lettered all four years.
"Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond (Marshall) or small fish in a big pond (WVU)?" Meadows said. "I chose big fish. Everybody said, 'what are you thinking?' I put a lot of thought in it. I never looked back and never regretted it. We did the best with what we had."
"Today it's did you ever dream something like this would happen?" he said. "It's been an amazing run and it's still going."