Marshall Football History
- NCAA Division I-AA 1992
- NCAA Division I-AA 1996
Bowl Game Victories:
- Motor City Bowl - 1998
- Motor City Bowl - 1999
- Motor City Bowl - 2000
- GMAC Bowl - 2001
- GMAC Bowl - 2002
- Little Caesars
Pizza Bowl - 2009
- W.Va. Athletic Conference 1925
- W.Va. Athletic Conference 1928
- W.Va. Athletic Conference 1931
- Buckeye Conference 1937
- MAC 1997
- MAC 1998
- MAC 1999
- MAC 2000
- MAC 2002
Coach Bobby Pruett
- Pruett left an indelible mark on Marshall football
- 1996: The greatest season
- 1997: A great I-A beginning
- 1998: Herd takes giant step
- 1999: Commanding respect
- 2000: MAC champions, again
- 2001: Miracle in Mobile
- 2002: A year of inspiration
- 2003: Herd's MAC reign ends
- 2004: Season of discontent
- Timeline of MU Coach Bobby Pruett's life and career
- TIM STEPHENS: Pruett turned losses into life lessons
- ANTHONY HANSHEW: One August afternoon told the rest of the story
- ERNIE SALVATORE: Easygoing Pruett a sportswriters' dream
MU Football History
TIM STEPHENS: Pruett turned losses into life lessons
Coaches often say they learn more from their defeats than from their victories. As such, we can learn more about coaches from their losses than from their victories.
The lessons gleaned from the relatively few games in which Marshall came out on the short end of the score under Bobby Pruett provide insight into a man whose drive, commitment and actions allowed him to leave the Thundering Herd football program in superior standing than when he took it over.
We had to wait awhile -- an entire season, in fact -- for that first lesson taught by losing.
Pruett's Herd went a perfect 15-0 in 1996 before losing its NCAA Division I-A debut Aug. 30, 1997, at West Virginia. The Mountaineers rallied for a 42-31 win. Before Pruett entered the post-game press conference, reporters chatted of how Marshall had made a respectable showing, taking WVU into the closing minutes before succumbing. There were suggestions that Marshall could count this as a victory, despite what the scoreboard flashed. Pruett would have none of such talk.
"We don't look at this as a moral victory," Pruett said. "It's a loss. We came here to win the football game. That was our goal."
This was more than mere coachspeak from a man who could have been perfectly content to have played a close game against an established, heavily favored I-A team. Pruett's comments were genuine. Playing major foes close might be good enough for the Arkansas States and Louisiana-Lafayettes of the world, but it wasn't good enough for Marshall.
Pruett's attitude rubbed off on his players. A week later, the Herd picked up its first I-A victory, 35-25 at Army.
Marshall's next loss gave Pruett another lesson to teach. The Herd played poorly Oct. 18, 1997, and fell 45-21 at Miami (Ohio). At the time, the defeat appeared it would cost MU the Mid-American Conference East Division title. Miami, a strong team, had to lose twice in the next four weeks for the Herd to claim the crown.
"We have to take care of our own business and hope that Miami loses twice," Pruett said, adding that as long as there was mathematical hope, his team still had a chance.
Easy to say, but difficult to get a bunch of 20-year-olds to believe, yet Pruettconvinced his players to continue to play with passion. Marshall won out, while the RedHawks dropped two games, giving the Herd the division title and eventually the MAC championship.
Loss No. 3 ended the 1997 season. Going into the inaugural Motor City Bowl, Pruett said Mississippi, a solid team from the rugged Southeastern Conference, would be a measuring stick for his program. The Rebels were just that. As did WVU, Ole Miss rallied late and beat Marshall, 34-31.
"We don't like losing," Pruett said. "Now we have an idea of how far we have to go to compete with teams like Ole Miss and West Virginia."
Pruett learned that the trek wasn't as far as many fans and experts might have imagined. Marshall went 12-1 in 1998, beating SEC foe South Carolina. The lone blemish was a lackluster 34-13 loss at Bowling Green, from which Pruett extracted an important lesson for his players.
"We can't play without emotion and expect to win," Pruett said.Lesson learned. Marshall went on to win the MAC and bury Louisville in the Motor City Bowl, followed a year later by a perfect 1999 season that included big-time victories over Clemson and BYU. Throughout the '99 season, the '98 loss at Bowling Green served as prime motivation for a team that, from its head coach, learned and took to heart the meaning of "passion."
Such passion, such drive and desire, was lacking among some players on the 2004 edition of the Herd. Maybe that was a contributing factor to Pruett's resignation. Pruett held in great disdain players who placed themselves above the program, players whose attitudes were cavalier toward success, on and off the field. Sure, he could teach, preach, threaten, prod and push, but in the end, the players themselves are responsible for their performances. Pruett never would point the finger there, accepting the blame for defeat, while deflecting credit for victory to his players and assistants.
Yes, the losses revealed much about Pruett the coach, and even more about Pruett the man. His ability to turn them into invaluable life lessons for his players isn't something that will show up in the record books, but will remain a legacy of the greatest coach Marshall has had.