After deciding to not renew Doc Holliday’s contract as head coach after a decade+ in charge, it seemed like Marshall did not have much of an idea of its path forward aside from “not Doc.” In hiring Charles Huff, a respected assistant coach Marshall changes the conversation a bit. In a sport where it is hard for talented, qualified guys to get a look, Marshall made a great move. It is hard to be hired as a black coach. Tyler Tynes wrote two pieces on the struggle at the NFL level over the last couple of seasons. After being hired, black coaches are treated like a monolith and rarely will you see a black coach fired and another one hired.
Some of that is because college football is silly, reliant on a lot of gut feelings, good feelings, and back room deals than should be the norm for large organizations like D-1 programs are.
In this particular case, Charles Huff has a reputation as a relationship builder, and comes from a winning program under the tutelage of a great head coach. The latter aspect means little, as we have seen a hit-and-miss record from the Saban tree. Just because your boss was a great coach, it does not necessarily mean you will be successful. Huff won the press conference, got everyone excited with his talk of good men being champions in all aspects of life at Huntington. He talked of finding great coaches who were not only teachers, but leaders. He talked of being competitive in everything they do.
It was a great speech. It is important to remember that all of the guys that can earn a head coaching gig can talk a great game. He even made firing the defensive staff of the league’s best defense sound like a good idea.
“There’s some really good coaches that were on this staff but you’ve got to have guys around you that you know. It’s not like working at Pepsi or any other major corporation where you hire based off resume,” Huff explained.
I will disagree with him there. Hiring guys you are “comfortable” with is how you get black and other minority coaches sidelined. I understand the desire, but it seems impractical. As all decisions made when a new regime takes power, they are made with the full benefit of the doubt. After a couple of missteps — and I don’t know how many Huff will be afforded — everything will be questioned.
Letting the presumptive rival to the position go is understandable from a political standpoint, but if the defense does not play to that standard in the coming years there will be some hell to pay.
Huff is the second black head coach in the league, the other being FAU’s Willie Taggart. He is known as a recruiter and has done a hell of a job at that — he recruited two five-star running backs to Penn State and did the same at Alabama. Holliday was known for his ability to recruit and especially in Florida. That proved to be useful as Marshall had consistently brought in talent even if they did not top the CUSA recruiting services’ standings.
Marshall has had talent and the big complaint about the time under Holliday was that the team did not win as often as it should have. The brass went out and got a guy who coached at a program that had done more winning than just about anyone else in recent years.