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Of the 12 new Conference USA opponents that FIU will play now that the Panthers have left the Sun Belt Conference, Marshall is the only one of the 12 teams that FIU has faced before in football. The Panthers and Thundering Herd met at the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg.
Marshall has a storied football program mostly due to its success in the 1990's and the tragic 1970 planecrash. But the university also has an interesting historical start as the school began in another state.
Marshall, home of The Thundering Herd who were not always the Thundering Herd, does not necessarily have a home for its baseball team.
Some of Marshall's most famous alums include "Soapy" and "Soupy" comedians and a bad doll.
In the previous FIU’s Conference USA Opponents Series you got to know:
East Carolina Pirates
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Let's continue our look at FIU's opponents in its new conference and go to Huntington, West Virginia and get to know the Marshall Thundering Herd. . . .
GO WEST, YOUNG UNIVERSITY
Marshall was founded in 1837 and named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. The school located in Huntington, West Virginia was not always located in West Virginia, but rather Virginia.
Marshall was closed for most of the 1860's due to the Civil War. In June of 1863, Cabell County, Virginia, was one of the 50 counties separated from Virginia at the height of the Civil War to form the State of West Virginia, and the college fell within the new state. In 1867, Marshall re-opened as a teacher training facility and was renamed State Normal School of Marshall College.
A NOVEL IDEA
Marshall's early sports teams were called Indians or "Normalists," as Marshall was a normal school, a two-year degree that qualified the degree holder to teach secondary school. When the Marshall teams started wearing green and white in 1903, instead of black and blue in the 1890s for the Indians, the team went by "Big Green" for a number of years.
In the 1930's, Marshall's student body got a bison from the famous Marland 101 Ranch in Oklahoma. The animal went along with the nickname "The Thundering Herd" that the then-Herald-Dispatch's sports editor, Duke Ridgely, started using for the team in 1928. Ridgley was a fan of the novel, "The Thundering Herd".
The student newspaper suggested "Judges" to honor the college's namesake, and the evening newspaper, The Huntington Advertiser, wanted "Boogiecats" or "Boogercats" to replace the name, "Big Green". However, Ridgley won out and "Thundering Herd" became the school's nickname.
HAIL THE HERD
Most of Marshall's greatest athletic achievements occured when the Herd was in Division I-AA football. The Herd won I-AA National Championships in 1992 and 1996 and were I-AA finalists in 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1995. The Marshall men's basketball team won the NAIA National Championship in 1947.
Five days before this coming Thanksgiving, FIU will face a couple of its former coaches in Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg and Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal. Legg was FIU's OC (2008-09) and Mirabal was FIU's tight ends and O-line coach (2007-12). Legg was on the other sideline when Marshall defeated FIU, 20-10 in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
SEVERAL HOME PLATES
Marshall does not have an on-campus baseball stadium. Instead the Herd has to travel to play their "home" games to three different ballparks and it's the reason for their unbalanced schedule. In 2013, MU played just 14 home games and 33 road games.
Marshall currently plays its Conference USA home games off-campus in Charleston, West Virginia at Appalachia Power Park, which is about 40 miles from campus (almost like if FIU played its home baseball games in Boca Raton).
For non-conference "home" baseball games, Kennedy Center Field is Marshall's home ballpark. Kennedy Center Field is a community baseball field at the Kennedy Center YMCA about four miles north of Huntington. The field does not have lights, has almost no provisions for spectators, and limited locker rooms.
Marshall also plays home games at Epling Stadium in Beckley, West Virginia, which is 110 miles from campus.
MARQUEE MARSHALL ALUMS
Comedian/actor Billy Crystal, who started out in the sitcom "Soap", attended Marshall. Comedian/actor Soupy Sales is an alum. Before he terrorized as the voice of "Chucky" in the "Child's Play" movie franchise, Brad Dourif graduated from Marshall. Conchata Ferrell, who plays "Berta", the housekeeper on "Two and a Half Men" is a Marshall alum. Former NFL stars Randy Moss and Chad Pennington played for the Thundering Herd.
THUNDERING HERD TIDBITS
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, home of the Marshall football team, is one of just two Division I stadiums named solely for a woman. Edwards was a New Orleans jazz singer, who with her husband, James, donated $65 million to Marshall. The playing field is named after James Edwards. South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium is the other stadium named solely for a woman.
Beating the Herd at home is not easy. With a 118-19 overall record at Edwards Stadium, Marshall has compiled a winning percentage of .866, which is the best home record in Division I football. Alabama ranks second with an .825 winning percentage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Marshall's mascot, MARCO the Buffalo came from shortening the first five letters of MARshall COllege before the college became a university in 1961.
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