Country roads, take him home.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman, Charlotte assistant Greg Adkins is expected to return to his alma mater of Marshall to take over as the Thundering Herd’s next offensive line coach.
Adkins is well known around Huntington for his work with the team back in the early 1990’s when they were winning NCAA titles and making regular title game appearances at the then-Division I-AA level. He also had stops at Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and with the Buffalo Bills among others before being hired at Charlotte by Brad Lambert.
The return of Adkins fills the hole on Marshall’s staff after the departure of offensive line coach Alex Mirabal, who left for Oregon earlier in the week.
Sadly, what was already a tragic situation at Marshall has taken an even more heartbreaking turn.
The Thundering Herd confirmed Thursday afternoon that rising redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Larry Aaron died earlier in the day at a Maryland hospital. Aaron was paralyzed from the waist down after being struck by a stray bullet during a New Year’s Eve party, and passed away as a result of complications connected to those injuries he sustained in the shooting.
According to reports at the time, Aaron had stepped in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets.
“Marshall University lost a very special young man today and it has shocked and saddened us all,” a statement from Marshall head coach Doc Holliday began. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Larry Aaron’s family and friends, many of whom were his fellow Thundering Herd teammates. His loss will be felt in every corner of our program and his spirit will never be forgotten.”
After redshirting as a true freshman, Aaron played in eight games this past season.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those impacted by Aaron’s senseless death.
The Oregon coaching staff is going to have a specific South Florida flavor to it. Head coach Mario Cristobal is a Miami native, a former Hurricanes player and assistant, and the former head coach at Florida International. On Tuesday, Cristobal moved to bring a fellow South Floridian with him to the Pacific Northwest.
According to Grant Traylor of the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Dispatch, Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal is leaving the staff to reunite with Cristobal in Eugene.
Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman added Mirabal will work under Cristobal, who will handle the offensive line.
Mirabal is also a native of Miami and a Florida International graduate. He spent the first decade-plus of his career working in Miami’s high school ranks before joining Cristobal’s FIU staff as tight ends and later offensive line coach from 2007-12. He landed at Marshall in 2013 after Cristobal was forced out at FIU, where he remained until Tuesday.
Under Mirabal’s guidance, Marshall finished fourth nationally in sacks allowed at just 0.85 per game. Oregon finished 54th nationally in that same metric.
A Conference USA rivalry will be renewed between Marshall and East Carolina. The two schools have reportedly lined up a future home-and-home series for 2023 and 2025, according to a report from FBSchedules.com.
East Carolina of the American Athletic Conference will host the Thundering Herd on Sep. 9, 2023. Marshall will host the return trip two years later on Sep. 13, 2025. The two schools have not played each other since 2013 before East Carolina left Conference USA to join the AAC. ECU leads the all-time series, 10-5, but they have met two times by the time this home-and-home series is slated to be played. Previously, the schools agreed to another home-and-home scheduling arrangement that will be played in 2020 (at ECU) and 2021 (at Marshall).
Games between two non-power conferences may not seem all that attractive to common fans, but the importance riding on these outcomes can carry some significance. A victory by either team gives their respective conference a win against another nonpower conference it may be jockeying with for a spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup. Ultimately, it may not carry enough weight by the end of the season if one team, like UCF, happens to be the clear favorite, but in the event multiple conferences have champions in the running for the exclusive spot in the big money bowls at the end of the year, any little piece of bragging rights a conference can stack up against another conference could become valuable.
In theory, at least.
Marshall currently has other future games scheduled against former conference rivals. This fall the Herd will play former MAC opponent Miami Ohio, and Ohio is on deck for a home-and-home series in 2019 and 2020. Marshall will also face Cincinnati (formerly of Conference USA) in 2019. East Carolina has no other former Conference USA rivals on the future schedule at this point aside from Marshall.
Chalk one up for the “little guys” of college football.
Alex Thomson is a 6-5, 225-pound quarterback at FCS Wagner College who has caused quite the stir in recruiting circles since deciding to transfer to the FBS level. Viewed by some as NFL-ready already, Thomson confirmed to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports overnight that he has committed to transferring to Marshall to finish out his collegiate playing career.
Thomson chose the graduate transfer route to Huntington over, among others, Tennessee and Baylor. Thamel writes that “Tennessee was offering a blueshirt, which meant he couldn’t officially visit and wouldn’t be on scholarship until the first practice of summer camp.”
The decision for Thomson, who will graduate from Wagner this spring, came after he took official visits to the Thundering Herd and the Bears. Thomson will, of course, be eligible to play for the Conference USA school immediately, and is expected to have two years of eligibility to use.
Thomson played in just two games last season because of a shoulder injury. According to Yahoo, he also missed his freshman season because of a PCL issue.
The situation Thomson will find himself in is an enviable one as the Herd is looking for a new starting quarterback after Chase Litton unexpectedly opted to leave early for the NFL draft. Outside of that, Marshall returns nine starters on the offensive side of the ball.