Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Thundering Herd football will always be part of me'

Front page article from The Parthenon, December 2, 1970
       In the weeks immediately following the Marshall University crash, I was given a writing assignment that I really didn’t want. I got this idea that I would not be assigned to cover any major stories for The Parthenon (student newspaper) because I had no prior experience as a news reporter.
      That’s why I was surprised when I was told that I would have to do a story on a National Transportation Safety Board hearing on the cause of the crash in which 75 people died, including most of MU’s football team.
       The federal hearing, conducted by the NTSB’s four-man board of inquiry, was held in Huntington, West Virginia and lasted three days. I really didn’t have an intense interest in doing this story. Maybe it was because of my denial. Just really didn’t care to dwell on any particulars about this subject.
       I never expressed any reservations to the student newspaper advisor about doing the story, but I did proceed with reluctance. The article ran on the front page of the December 2, 1970 edition of The Parthenon. For whatever reason, I still have an original copy of that newspaper from 41 years ago.
      To this day, it still amazes me that even though I walked away from the game, I still could not make a definitive break from Marshall University football. I was an ex-jock who had no desire to put the pads on again. At that time, I had not entertained any thoughts about making a comeback after the crash. That would happen a few months later.
     In December of ’70, playing football was the farthest thing from my mind. Even so, I could no longer continue to ignore the feeling that I still had a strong affinity for the game in general and for Marshall in particular. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better for me to openly acknowledge that Thundering Herd football will always be part of me.”

1 comment:

  1. My father worked for the FAA in Charleston at the time. He explained that both the Huntington and Charleston airports side on top of a hill and were difficult to navigate. Barry Goldwater's plane nearly destroyed the Charleston airport on an1964 campaign visit! (The two cities could not agree on a regional airport in the lower area between them. They are still debating thisnissue.) Unlike the Charleston airport, Huntington did not have a lighted glide slope on the preach to the airport. This may have played a factor as well. The FAA account suggests that if the plane remained its altitude less than a minute more, it would have cleared the treetops.