Marshall reschedules opener to grab exclusive TV time slot

The Marshall Thundering Herd gets a rare opportunity to open the 2015 season when they host a Power 5 member. And it got better with an exclusive TV spot.

Marshall has pushed back its football opener for 2015 by a day for a pretty good reason—a chance to have the football viewing audience to itself.

From Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick:

The game with Purdue had been scheduled for Saturday—in a pack of other college football action on Labor Day Weekend—and now gets the Sunday spot.

The NFL won’t have started yet—that season kicks off the following weekend—so it’s a chance for Marshall and, by extension, Conference USA to get some exposure.

Marshall was in the mix for the New Year’s Six bowl slot that is allocated to the Group of 5 conferences, but a 67-66 overtime loss to Western Kentucky on the final regular-season weekend ended those hopes.

The Herd wound up 13-1, with a Conference USA title win over Louisiana Tech and a Boca Raton Bowl victory over Northern Illinois.

But Marshall didn’t have a non-conference schedule of any repute—wins over Miami (Ohio), Rhode Island, Ohio and Akron aren’t going to impress anyone on the College Football Playoff selection committee—and lagged behind Boise State and East Carolina for most of the season in those rankings.

So getting to host a Power 5 conference program—even if it is Purdue (what, you thought Ohio State would go to Huntington, W. Va., without some sort of court order being involved?)—is a terrific opportunity for Marshall.

The Herd will be making a quarterback transition next season, from outgoing senior Rakeem Cato to whoever emerges from a group including junior Gunnar Holcombe, the backup in 2014, sophomore Cole Garvin and James Madison transfer Michael Birdsong.

The national TV appearance is a bonus and is the only football game scheduled for that day, at least for now. That’s another big get for the Group of 5—it’s not often it can get an exclusive time slot that doesn’t involve playing a game at 10:30 p.m. on a Tuesday.

Purdue, meanwhile, comes in off a 3-9 campaign and a last-place finish in the Big Ten West. The Boilermakers closed the campaign with six consecutive losses and posted just one win—over Illinois—against Power 5 competition.

So the onus will on the Herd to make a good showing because, as the old saying goes, they’re only going to get one

chance to make a first impression with the committee.