In a year where we were told no college football coaches would be fired, Marshall's Doc Holliday became the 13th FBS coach to be let go on Monday when Marshall announced it would be making a coaching change. But unlike many of the other coaches who lost jobs this season, Holliday is coming off a 7-3 season in which he had the Thundering Herd ranked as high as No. 15 in the country and won Conference USA Coach of the Year — and that's not to mention the 61 wins in the seven years prior to 2020.
So why would a guy who has had Marshall rolling as a top tier Group of Five program be fired, especially in such difficult financial times? Well, it could be the fact that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has been trying to force him out for years.
Even as far back as 2017, Justice has apparently been pushing to get Holliday out and bring back former Marshall head coach Bob Pruett.
WV Metro News — Gov. Jim Justice twice met with top Marshall University officials in recent months suggesting they replace football coach Doc Holliday with former coach Bob Pruett, according to multiple sources.
Marshall president Jerome Gilbert was summoned to a meeting with the governor-elect Dec. 4 at the Greenbrier Resort, where Justice first proposed the coaching change. Sources said Gilbert contended Holliday’s job was safe, and if a coaching vacancy should arise, it would spawn a nationwide search.
I say this all the time, but this is why no sport will ever be able to match college football. Even when a guy like Justice has reached a position of political power like governor of West Virginia, his first call was to his alma mater to try to force out the football coach. And when it didn't happen immediately, he made sure to slowly but surely lead a years-long coup to get this guy out of there, success be damned.
I feel bad for Holliday, who by all accounts got really screwed here, but I respect the hell out of the determination of Jim Justice. You don't find many governors who are still that committed to overthrowing a college football coach. They generally have more governing shit to do — but not this guy.
We'll see who Marshall is able to get to replace Holliday, though I'm sure a certain high-ranking government official will have something to say about it.