Saturday, January 7, 2012
What if Moss had stayed & crash never happened?
I’ve often wondered what would have happened for Marshall’s football program if coach Perry Moss had kept his job and the plane crash had never happened. Moss was hired by Marshall for the express purpose of turning things around as quickly as possible.
That’s where I come in. I was among the multitude of college hopefuls who responded to Moss’s massive letter-writing campaign which attracted football players from all across the Deep South in 1968. More than 100 freshmen football players descended on Huntington, West Virginia with the sole intent of earning a spot on the team and receiving a scholarship.
It was Moss’s first recruiting class. Marshall’s 1968 freshman team went undefeated and most of the starters from that squad won starting jobs on the varsity for the ’69 season. With such an awesome start, there’s no telling how quickly the Thundering Herd would have ascended among the ranks of the Mid-American Conference. But because of a recruiting scandal, MU was busted for more than 100 NCAA violations. The school was placed on indefinite suspension by the MAC and was under heavy NCAA scrutiny.
As a result, Moss lost his job and he never got the opportunity to actually coach the freshmen who appeared destined to help Marshall become a legitimate football powerhouse.
The ’68 freshman team provided all the necessary proof that Moss had an exceptional eye when it came to spotting talent. To this day, it still boggles my mind as to what the Herd would have achieved if Moss had been able to put together three more recruiting classes and if there had been no tragedy involving the football team. A significant percentage of the players who died in the crash were Perry Moss recruits.
Moss, known as an offensive mastermind, has coached in every major professional football league in America since the All-American Conference disbanded in 1949. Aside from his stints as head coach at Marshall and Florida State, Moss has coached in the Canadian and Continental Leagues and the Arena Football League.
In an Associated Press article that ran in the Los Angeles Times in 1987, Moss commented on some of the lessons he learned during his career.
“I've coached with, under and against all of the big names—Bear Bryant, Don Shula, George Allen. I think I've learned some football during that time. I think I know as much football as anybody. One thing I've always done is stay up with the game. I've not tried to get by on what I was coaching 10 years ago. There's something else I've learned. No matter how much you know, no matter how much you can teach your players, you've got to have the players to win. You can coach all you want, if you don't have the players, you won't win.”
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