Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Perseverance helped Marshall overcome ‘70 crash

Chad Pennington
By “The Coach”
       Chad Pennington dropped back to pass, looking downfield for the best wide receiver in the college game – Randy Moss. It was the 1997 Motor City Bowl and Marshall University would end up on the short end of a 34-31 loss to Mississippi.
       Moss would catch an 80-yard touchdown pass from Pennington on Marshall’s first play from scrimmage. For Marshall fans, however, it would mark another beginning, one of an era of dominance in which the Thundering Herd would win five Mid-American Conference championships in six years.
       Just 27 years earlier, Marshall football almost ceased to exist.
On November 14, 1970, while returning from a game at East Carolina, the Southern
Airways flight carrying 75 passengers, including 37 players and five coaches of the Marshall football team went down on a hillside outside of Huntington, West Virginia.
       Decision-makers at the university, including acting President Donald Dedmon, contemplated what to do with the football program. They wound up hiring Jack Lengyel, a Division III head coach at Wooster College in Ohio, to rebuild the program.
Randy Moss
       University officials pushed the NCAA for a waiver that would allow freshmen to compete at the varsity level, which was not permitted at that time. Lengyel, whose character was personified in the film We Are Marshall by Matthew McConaughey, built his team from the ground up, recruiting players from other sports and even advertising in the school newspaper for a place-kicker.
       Lengyel ended up winning just nine games in four seasons as the futility of the Marshall football program continued. Prior to “The Crash” (1966-69), the Herd had a winless streak of 0-26-1. After joining the Southern Conference in 1977, Marshall matched that dreadful streak before finally defeating Appalachian State, 17-10, in 1981.
       In 1984, under new head coach Stan Parrish, Marshall experienced its first winning season in two decades, finishing up at 6-5. What transpired over the next 20 years was nothing short of amazing.
       After Parrish led the Herd to two winning seasons, Coach George Chaump brought national prominence to Marshall at the Division I-AA level with back-to-back ten-win seasons and a trip to the 1987 national championship game.
       The success of Chaump’s teams in the late ‘80s led to a period of dominance in the ‘90s. Marshall won two NCAA Division I-AA championships, defeating Youngstown State in 1992 and Montana in 1996.
       The following year (1997), Marshall made the jump to Division I-A and became a member of the Mid-American Conference. Head coach Bob Pruett, a former Marshall player, would lead the Herd to five conference titles. During that stretch, the only team to beat Marshall in a MAC championship game was Toledo (2001).
       From ‘96 to 2004, Marshall won 94 games, which includes five bowl game victories. The Herd also had six seasons in which it won at least 10 games.
       Marshall’s gridiron success of the ‘90s was made possible by those who weathered the storm during the turbulent years following “The Crash.” 
       Without the vision of those who were willing to take a chance on continuing a football program in the wake of a disaster, Marshall would have never become the NCAA’s winningest football program in the 1990s.
       The scars of the accident still remain in the minds of those who were on the scene more than four decades ago. A historical road marker located near Tri-State Airport serves as a tribute in remembrance of the 75 crash victims. The flames of the horrible crash from so long ago have died out. Yet, the flame of Thundering Herd football will continue to burn for years to come.

Chad Pennington photo/ courtesy of The Bleacher Report
Randy Moss photo/courtesy of College Sports Kings.com

Click on “Audio” tab to listen to the featured episode
on the Black Authors Network
“An evening with Craig T. Greenlee and November Ever After”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blogger: Book 'gives the readers the rest'

       One of my favorite movies of all time is We Are Marshall. I am a sucker for movies like this, movies that tell of how a community overcame a horrible tragedy. I get goose bumps and teary-eyed every time I watch that movie.
Michele Mathews
       Of course, having actor Matthew McConaughey as the coach who rebuilds the team helps a little bit. In his memoir called November Ever After, Craig T. Greenlee tells the behind-the-scene stories of the football players who died that tragic night back on November 14, 1970.
       As a former teammate of those Marshall players, Greenlee has a unique connection because he did know most of the players who died. Greenlee is a freelance sports journalist and a Marshall graduate. Now he lives with his wife in North Carolina where he has become an accomplished photographer and graphic artist.
       Since the movie only gives some of the details of the tragedy, November Ever After gives the readers the rest. The book “delivers an up-close and personal look at the impact the tragedy had on those who were left behind.”
       After seeing We Are Marshall several times, I would love to read this book. The community is an inspiration to what a tragedy can do to people.
       If you want to read this book like I do, then go to Greenlee’s web site.

Michele Mathews writes contemporary fiction in novels and short stories and non-fiction as well as articles for various web sites.

Marshall football memoir featured on BAN Radio

       There’s a new featured episode on the Black Authors Network website.
       Host Ella Curry conducts a lengthy interview with Craig T. Greenlee who talks about his reasons for writing November Ever After, a memoir about the 1970 Marshall plane crash and its aftermath. During this interview, which was aired on blog talk radio, Greenlee announced that he will do a sequel, which he expects to publish within the next 12 to 18 months.
       Visit the Black Authors Network website here and scroll down to Featured Episode: “Evening with Craig T. Greenlee and November Ever After.”
       The Black Authors Network Literary Program aims to support the African-American community and to show people – through the Black Authors Network Radio – how that African-American writers are more than just a niche.
       BAN Radio brings wonderful stories to the minds and imaginations of everyone. We have stories to tell, using our voice and our experiences, that cross all races and cultures. The mission of the radio show is to give a platform for African-American authors, but to also show the diversity of genres within our literary community.
       The show, hosted by Ella Curry, publisher of Black Pearls Magazine Online, is a platform for authors who should be recognized as having cross-over genres. We are aware that there are authors that are totally targeted to AA readers, but why not discuss that? Why not make people aware that some books are written specifically for AA readers and some are cross-genre books meant to be enjoyed by all readers period?
     BAN Radio wants readers, all readers, to appreciate the work of Black Authors! Our stories are stories that can be embraced around the world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Greenlee: ‘Memoir is a collaborative effort …’

       Author Craig T. Greenlee was the featured guest on last night’s Black Authors Network Showcase that aired on blog talk radio. During the 80-minute interview, Greenlee went into detail about how his book November Ever After sheds more light on the story of the Marshall crash than the popular film, We Are Marshall.
       The veteran sports journalist talks about former player Ed Carter and the evangelical global ministry he started that was based on him not being on the ill-fated flight. Carter’s Death Unto Life Ministry remains vibrant in its 36th year of existence.
       Greenlee also shares how he came to the decision to write a book about a story that’s so familiar to so people.
       “What I wrote has a lot of my perspective in it, but there’s more to it than that,” he said. “It really is a story whose time has finally come. This memoir is a collaborative effort that involves others, who like me, were left behind in the wake of the plane crash. What this book represents is the full-course meal. Watch the movie, then read my book and you’ll agree wholeheartedly.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

BAN Showcase interview rescheduled for tonight

        Technology doesn’t always work according to design. Due to unforeseen glitches, writer Craig T. Greenlee was unable to do his radio interview on the Black Authors Network Showcase that was scheduled to air last week.
       The live interview is rescheduled for tonight (October 15) at 8 o’clock.
       Greenlee, author of the memoir November Ever After, is a former college athlete who knew most of the players who died in the Marshall University plane crash that killed most of the school’s football team nearly 42 years ago. In tonight’s interview, he will discuss his book, which goes beyond the night of the crash and draws heavily on the never-told-before stories of those who were left behind.
       The one-hour show will be hosted by Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations and publisher of Black Pearls Magazine Online.
       Call (646) 200-0402 to ask questions or make comments. To listen to the program via computer, visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Black-Author-Network A chat line is available on the BAN website.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: (Book) great, but has flaws; a must read

       The book [November Ever After] is factually accurate. I remember Craig Greenlee as a Marshall player. I attended my first Marshall football game in person in 1969. That year I saw the East Carolina and Ohio University games.
       In the fateful season, 1970, I was a season ticket holder, and just a teenager. It was a difficult time for all in the Huntington community. The strengths of the book are numerous. The book covers racial events at Marshall University in the late 1960's-early 1970's in a mid-western and/or southern city in the US – Huntington, West Virginia.
       I liked the descriptions of the deceased players’ backgrounds and their brotherhood on and off of the football field. The author gives a first person account of the Marshall program, how it got to the fateful day, and the aftermath. The author, using his eyewitness experience, critiques with journalistic prowess the depictions of the tragedy via the Hollywood movie and the documentaries released describing the Marshall football program, past and present.
       However, I just wish the author had not made his perceptions of the racial harmony at Marshall and Huntington or lack thereof, prior to the time of the tragedy and its aftermath, a somewhat reoccurring theme throughout the book.
       A must read for any Marshall fan, or anyone interested in a human tragedy/triumph story involving collegiate athletics.
-- Samuel May, Amazon reviewer

Monday, October 8, 2012

Memoir’s purpose: to inspire and enlighten

 Hey Craig,

“… Finished reading your book … I have to say that it’s incredibly enlightening and thought provoking! Needless to say that I'm still in the overall “processing” stage. However, I no longer feel like I walked into a movie that was halfway over. I now have insight as to what happened before I arrived on campus (1971), and I can put together the pieces a whole lot better.
       I can better appreciate what you, Janice (Cooley), Ed (Carter), et al were dealing with amid all of the hope and hype concerning The Young Thundering Herd! I regret that you and I never sat and talked when we attended school together. I’m sure that I would have been a more “aware” young man – both socially and spiritually – than I was.”
Chuck Jackson
Houston, Texas

       Chuck Jackson’s comment to one of my blog entries confirmed what I already knew about the value of the memoir November Ever After. This is a story that needed to be written and it’s a story that’s worthy to be shared with the masses.
       For people such as Chuck, who came to Marshall after the tragedy, the book provides a proper frame of reference for what campus life was like before the crash. For those, like me, who were there at the time of the disaster, the book opens the door for some level of closure on an event that none of us will ever forget.
       Keep in mind that for those of us who were around on the night that Marshall’s plane went down, the football season of 1971 represented a truly a mixed bag. I can’t speak for everyone who suffered from the pain of losing their schoolmates. But I do feel safe in saying that most of us engaged in an emotional tug-of-war when it was time for the start of a new season with essentially a brand-new team – the “Young Thundering Herd”.
       None of would ever forget about the ’70 Marshall team that was gone and would never return. But on the other hand, there was cause to rejoice and cause to cling to renewed hope. In spite of the heavy losses, Marshall opted to continue playing football.
       In my mind, the fact that the school refused to deep-six its football program, will always serve as a fitting tribute to the seventy-five people who died in a fiery plane crash on November 14, 1970.

Tune-in tonight when author Craig T. Greenlee talks about his book “November Ever After” with host Ella Curry on the Black Authors Network Showcase. The one-hour show begins at 8 o’clock. Feel free to use the call-in line (646) 200-0402 to ask questions or offer comments.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On Monday: BAN Showcase radio interview

Black Authors Network Showcase

Craig T. Greenlee, the author of November Ever After, will discuss his book as a featured guest on this one-hour show to be aired on blog talk radio. Show host is Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations and publisher of Black Pearls Magazine Online
... Showtime ... 
Monday, October 8, 2012
8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

All are welcome to tune-in and give some feedback

To get the hook-up:
Call-in line (646) 200-0402
Or, go online: 
Chat room available on BAN's web site

The Black Authors Network celebrates the best in books, authors, book clubs and community leaders.

November Ever After: What readers have learned

       The Marshall University football plane crash is part of American sports history. The whole story, however, has never been told. That's all changed with the release of "November Ever After," a memoir written by a former MU defensive back who knew most of the players who died on the night of November 14, 1970. I've included a few factoids below that provides a clearer picture of what makes my book so very unique and so different than anything else that's ever been done on the topic. Here's a sampling of what you'll learn in reading a story whose time has finally come.
  • Previously-produced documentaries and the movie We Are Marshall created a much-needed national platform for the story. But, those media productions are only appetizers. November Ever After is the full-course meal.
  • This is high-profile sports history that's loaded with eyewitness input.
  • The complete story is so amazing that it sounds like fiction, but it’s not. As readers pour through the chapters, they discover how things played out in real life.
  • Content-rich memoir has provocative story line which includes romance, premonition, prophecy, denial, depression, revelation, relief and ecstasy.
  • This book is one-of-a-kind. It tells an old story with a twist that’s new and true.
  • Discover what things were really like when Marshall started rebuilding its football program in the months following the November plane crash.
  • Learn why life would never be the same for those who were left behind in the aftermath of the tragedy.
  • Get an up-close-and-personal look at personal relationships of girlfriends, personal friends, family members and loved ones of those players who perished.
  • The crash squashed a potentially-bloody race riot on the Marshall campus.                                                                                                                                                                 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Writer set for guest appearance on radio showcase

       The Black Authors Network Showcase celebrates the best in books, authors, book clubs and community leaders who address a wide range of subjects on blog talk radio on Mondays and Wednesdays.
       Next week, the showcase will feature November Ever After author Craig T. Greenlee as a special guest. He will discuss his book on the one-hour show, hosted by Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations and publisher of Black Pearls Magazine Online
       Show time is Monday, October 8 at 8 p.m.
       Greenlee is a former Marshall University athlete who knew most of the players who died in the plane crash that killed most of the school’s football team nearly 42 years ago. His memoir goes beyond the night of the crash and draws heavily on the never-told-before stories of those who were left behind.
       Everyone is invited to call-in and talk to the author at (646) 200-0402. You can listen in on your computer and enter the chat room at:
       Downloads of the broadcast will be available approximately one hour after the show is finished.