Earlier I took a look at Michigan State defensive coordinator and Pitt football coaching candidate Pat Narduzzi. One other guy I wanted to get to was Doc Holliday since he was reportedly the second of three candidates Pitt was believed to be interviewing.
Here are the vitals:
Born: Hurricane, WV
Education: BS (1979) and MS (1981) degrees from West Virginia University
Playing Career: Linebacker at West Virginia (1976-1978)
Coaching Experience: Graduate Assistant, Assistant, Wide Receivers Coach, Linebackers Coach, and Assistant Head Coach at West Virginia from 1979-1999. Associate Head Coach and Wide Receivers Coach at North Carolina State from 2000-2004. Associate Head Coach and Safeties Coach at Florida from 2005-2007. Associate Head Coach, Recruiting Director, Tight Ends Coach, and Fullbacks Coach at West Virginia from 2008-2009. Marshall Head Coach from 2010 - Present.
So, first things first - a lot of West Virginia on that resume. He was born there, played at West Virginia, and coached most of his career there. The thing to keep in mind here is that that really shouldn't be a deterrent. He's even rumored to not have a great feeling about his Alma Mater, anyway, since he never got the head coaching gig there, and really, it's a non-issue to me, anyway.
Once you get beyond that, there are still questions for me about Holliday, though. For one, while he does have the head coaching experience a lot of fans want, he doesn't have it in a major conference. And while his record has been impressive the past two years (22-5), he was below .500 the three years before that. I can dismiss those early seasons since Marshall was really in a rebuilding stage when he got there, but there certainly have to be questions about him since he hasn't been a head guy at a major-conference program.
Holliday also never reached coordinator status - a little curious for a guy coaching for 30 years. Perhaps he has had offers for that role at smaller schools while at West Virginia and turned them down, but even after he left there, he was still stuck as a position coach. It's true that he got the "Associate Head Coach" label, but frankly, you never know how much stock to put in that if a guy isn't a coordinator. Sometimes, that can just be a title to lure a guy away from another job.
In addition, there's the Marshall offense to consider. Holliday runs a spread offense and that's clearly not the personnel set that Pitt is aligned for right now. The Panthers are a pro set team poised to run the ball with James Conner, one of the nation's top backs, in 2015. For the record, Marshall did rack up quite a bit of running yards this season with Devon Johnson having a monster season with 1,636 yards. Conner, I'm sure, would get his yards no matter the situation. But changing up the offense to something completely different would certainly have its effect on the current roster.
Finally, at 57, his age is a little more of a factor than a guy like Pat Narduzzi (48).
That said, there are plenty of positives regarding Holliday. The thing that jumped out at me on his resume was that he was the Director of Recruiting for West Virginia in his second stint there. Rivals previously named him a Top 25 recruiter and his 2009 class was in the Top 25 (No. 22), according to Scout. That's really something I wanted to see with this coaching hire (a guy with a strong background in recruiting) and Holliday seems to fit the bill here. And, keep in mind, that was at West Virginia in a major conference, so there's a lot to like there in that regard.
And while his success at Marshall wasn't at a major conference, his 12-1 season this year wasn't only impressive in terms of wins, but also because they blew opponents out of the water. It doesn't even seem possible, but his team won their 12 games by an average of a whopping 26.5 points per game. Just about every victory was by a double-digit margin and the team's lone loss was in a 67-66 shootout to Western Kentucky.
Speaking of that loss, don't let the 67 points they gave up concern you about him defensively. The Thundering Herd were a Top 25 defensive team in terms of points allowed, giving up only 20.8 points per game, and in nine of their 13 games, they kept teams below 20. Marshall's 45.1 points on offense ranked them fifth in the nation and they played well on both sides of the ball this season.
Overall, I still find Holliday to be a bit of a question mark. He brings a lot to the table and I'm not convinced it would be a bad hire - just one that isn't a slam dunk.
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