Schedule favors Marshall

Don’t be surprised if Marshall football coach Doc Holliday steals the thunder from the school’s first-year men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni.

While D’Antoni is busy assembling his squad on the hardwood, it’s Holliday who could gain all the attention into the latter part of the year if college football predictions meet reality.

I’ll admit I had to listen twice when I heard one publication (Athlon Sports) projecting a 13-0 finish for the Thundering Herd. Don’t scoff. Scrolling through the four non-conference games, I see only one opponent who could put a detour in a magical year.

The Bobcats from Ohio have defeated Marshall in their past three meetings. However, Ohio’s X-factor is absent now that quarterback Tyler Tettleton has graduated and seeking employment in the Canadian Football League.

Never discount Ohio coach Frank Solich, but his program is coming to Huntington on Marshall’s Hall of Fame Weekend. Should the Herd pass this test, a favorable non-conference schedule could complete a 4-0 start.

That leaves eight Conference-USA opponents, including two newcomers in Old Dominion and Western Kentucky. No longer is one of its nemesis, East Carolina, a league member after exiting for the American Athletic Conference.

Marshall opens its C-USA schedule against an Old Dominion unit which won eight games as an independent a year ago. Yet, the Monarchs didn’t defeat a meaningful opponent and allowed an average of 53.5 points in losses to North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Maryland and East Carolina.

The Herd can’t afford a let down the following week at home against a Middle Tennessee outfit which tied East Carolina for second place in C-USA’s East Division.

Other than Western Kentucky in the regular season finale, the only other league opponent which played above .500 a year ago was Rice at 10-4.

So counting on my fingers (I haven’t kicked the habit since grade school), a total of three schools should be regarded as Level 5 opponents: Ohio, Middle Tennessee and Rice.

  • Speaking of double-takes, imagine if the Major League Baseball season ended today which teams from the American League would be a wild card.

Hint No. 1: Only the first-place Toronto Blue Jays would represent the East Division. No New York Yankees. No Boston Red Sox. No Tampa Bay Rays.

Hint No. 2: Three playoff teams would come from one division. Again, forget about the American League East.

Answer: The American League West would not only send Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels to the postseason, but the Seattle Mariners as well. That’s right, the Texas Rangers would be left out in the cold while Robinson Cano and company go to the playoffs.

Go figure.

  • Best line of the week: Attended Saturday’s New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park where the temperatures flirted with the 90-degree mark.

Overheard one vendor shouting, “Hot chocolate. Free marshmallows.”

  • Talk about a small world: Sitting two rows in front of my wife and I at the Pirates game was former Marietta High School basketball standout and current West Liberty men’s assistant coach Ben Howlett. Word is former Parkersburg High standout and current West Liberty player Devin Hoehn has added nearly 25 pounds to his frame.

Contact Kerry Patrick at