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Charles Huff, Marshall Thundering Herd Head Football Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb
The Truth Network Radio
September 12, 2022 9:46 pm

Charles Huff, Marshall Thundering Herd Head Football Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb

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September 12, 2022 9:46 pm

Charles Huff joined Zach to discuss the win over Notre Dame on Saturday and why Marshall was the right fit for him. 


Coach, appreciate the time.

Thank you for coming on the Zach Yelp show and congratulations. No, I appreciate you guys having me, man. Obviously, one heck of a weekend. Guys played really hard. Coaches did a great job getting them ready and now we got able to get out of there with a win, man. So, great weekend, great start to the season and now I'm ready to move on to Bowling Green. Now, I know how you coaches work. I knew you were going to say that we're going to get ready to move on to Bowling Green. I really want you to appreciate this moment from Saturday.

Expand a little bit further. How do you put it into words what that win means for your program? Yeah, I think anytime you can show the players a reward for their hard work and live action, it's a positive. It helps build your culture.

It helps obviously continue to strengthen your brand. Our guys have been working really hard since January and all through fall camp and for them to go out and kind of get a reward for everything that we've been telling them, hey, you got to do A, B, and C in order to have success. For them to be able to go out and do it on a national stage is great. I think it obviously continues to bring light to a great university and great program here at Marshall. I think obviously whenever you can do something on the national scene and bring recognition, the community feels that vibe. The community smiles a little brighter.

Everybody kind of fixed their chest up a little higher, so I think it's all around positive. Whenever you have a team going to Notre Dame, you wonder if the stage is going to be too big. When did you know that your team was going to be ready for that moment?

Because I didn't sense any fear watching from my couch from your football team. No, I think college football has changed a little bit, so the intimidation factor of having big school versus small school has just kind of gone away because of the transfer portal. We've got 24 transfers on our team, so 24 of our guys have already played in some type of big arenas or big stadiums or quote-unquote big games. We've got three guys from Florida State on the team.

We've got a guy from Penn State, a guy from Kentucky, a guy from Purdue. When you start adding those kind of pieces, those guys have already played in those arenas, so for them that's the norm. I think what happens is they kind of relieve some of the anxiety of the guys that were on the team before and it may have not played in those arenas.

It's kind of one of those deals where the guy next to you has got confidence, you have a little more confidence. I think the time has changed with this transfer portal, and I think now you're getting more rosters with multiple different levels of experience, multiple different levels of venues, multiple different levels of big game moments and all those things, and I think it really helps. So it's one thing to have players from other programs that have big time experience, but to be able to get them to gel together so quickly is another tough task.

How did you guys develop that synergy so quickly this early on in the season? Yeah, I think it starts in recruiting. You know, we don't recruit anybody in our program out of the transfer portal that somebody in this somebody in this building doesn't have a previous relationship with, whether that's they recruited them in high school, whether that's, you know, they know their high school coach or they were at the university that they were at or transferring from. It's got to be some type of connection because you're right, it's hard to bring in new people into a new organization and get everybody to buy in. So we started in recruiting and making sure they fit our program, fit our schemes, and then when we get here, our culture kind of engulfs them.

You know, we challenge our older guys to force everybody to play and operate to a standard. The process in which we operate from our coaching on field, off the field, our classroom, our academic demands, you know, all forces guys to do right. And then we show them how it creates value for them, you know, how doing right creates value for them, how buying into the process is going to create value for them. And I think once you do that and you combine those three things, a previous relationship, you know, the locker room kind of engulfing them and then getting them to understand that, you know, it's going to create value for them. I think you get complete buy-in and then obviously it's easier to reinforce when you have success.

So that makes it a little bit easier as well. Charles Huff here with us. His program Marshall in his second season had a huge victory up against Notre Dame this past weekend. Coach, when you're walking off the field and you know you've won the game and I know in the final three minutes it looks like you guys are good, but the clock is winding down. When it finally gets to zero, you celebrate with your team, you're walking off that field, just what's going through your mind?

Just how lazy I was for the players and all the hard work they've put in. And, you know, there's a lot of people that have kind of pulled the rope to get us to this point from, you know, administration to boosters to board of governors to professors and supporters and fans and obviously the players, the coaches. And sometimes as the leader you trust your plan and you trust your process, but you know it works, but for everybody that's buying into it you need a little bit of, you know, reward to show up. And those are the moments that you can really say, man, you know, we were able to get everybody to buy in and everybody to pull the rope in the same direction and today is kind of like their reward. And as the coach, as the leader, you know, you're happy because you know a lot of the players and a lot of people in the organization bought in blindly, you know, they really didn't know if it was going to work. And when it works, it kind of is a good, you know, humbling moment to see your players, your staff, your administration all get to enjoy, you know, such a, you know, historical moment for this university.

Did it take a while for it to sink in? Like, has it felt reality right now that you guys beat Notre Dame? You know, as coaching cliche as it sounds, you know, it's kind of, you know, you prepare, you play hard, you execute, you know, successful game, move on to the next. But when you really, when we got back here to Huntington and just to see all the fans that met us at the airport and all the fans that met us at the stadium, you know, this win is so monumental to the history of this place. You know, you think back to the plane crash, you know, and then you think back to the Xavier game, which was the first Thundering Herd, you know, young Thundering Herd victory after the plane crash.

And then you think about us beating Marshall, I mean, beating Notre Dame, you know, for Marshall, those are some monumental moments. And there's been a lot of people that have been through the ups and the downs of this place and to see them smile and stick their chest out a little bit higher was really good. What was the best message that you got after the victory, whether it was Tex or someone important calling you?

I got a message from a couple of the guys, the young Thundering Herd. And they, you know, they told me, you know, coach, we fought to, you know, bring this university, you know, back, you know, when it was down. And today, you know, we got our reward watching you guys play and beat Notre Dame. And you think about the history of this college football in general, when you think back to, you know, how, you know, history has transcended this place and to have someone who was a part of that history kind of commend you for creating another historical moment for them was very humbling. Unbelievable to hear coach Charles Huff here with us from Marshall. I want to give some spotlight to some of your players. Steven Gilmer, we know football is in his bloodline with the way that his brother has played for a long time in the NFL. Take me through that pick because that was really something. Yeah, you know, that's something we see all the time with Gilmour.

He's kind of, I kind of, I talked to him and like you, I say you like the honey badger. I mean, if there's a tip ball or if there's an under thrown ball or a late ball in practice, I mean, he's all over it. And I tell him, I say, well, you know, you can take your practice habits to the game. But Coach Jackson, our DB coach has really been working on those guys are the fundamentals of, you know, three-step and what's the line of departure that you take back to the ball and how do you, you know, hook and swat so that you, you know, you don't lose the tackle, but you can, you know, make a play on the ball. And then just to see him go through, you know, those fundamentals and technique and to perfection and make a probably game closing play or game changing play for sure was really good.

You know, I've seen it happen in practice probably way too many times for myself to like as the offensive coach, but it was good to see somebody else kind of have that same feeling I have on the practice field on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You're running back LeBourne. We know he's once at Florida State and they said in the broadcast last year, he was driving Uber at 163 yards and a touchdown. Tell me a little bit more about your running back.

Yeah. You know, obviously, anytime you have success on the ground, it's multiple pieces that go in a lot tight in why receive the quarterback decisions, but Kaelin has done a phenomenal job since he's got the campus. He's probably been one of the most appreciative young men, um, that we have in our program just because of where he comes from. You know, he's been through a lot, you know, went to Florida State, had some success, got injured, you know, departed that university, went to junior college, uh, financially wasn't in position to, to have success. So it was driving Uber, working in a lumber yard, going to practice, going home, doing his work, transferring grades back to Florida State to get his degree, you know, battled another injury at the junior college, you know, fighting to kind of get, um, recognized again to be picked up by another college to give him an opportunity.

And luckily we had a situation, obviously with the transfer portal, we were able to get some more, you know, um, players in. And I remembered recruiting him, uh, when I was at Penn State and we had a really good relationship. He just reached out and said, coach, I just want an opportunity. Um, and, and at the time we didn't think we were going to take it right back because we had machine not leave.

We had some seniors coming back and those seniors decided to forego their COVID year. I called him late in the process and said, Hey man, I think we're going to have a scholarship. And he said, coach, I'll be there tomorrow.

Um, and, and he has come in and done everything we've asked him to do. And, you know, there's players on your team that you can see who, you know, people talk about what's their, why you can see him living out his why every single day. Charles Huff here with us, the head football coach at Marshall. You mentioned your time at Penn state. I know you're with James Franklin also at Vanderbilt. Um, how did you hook up with coach Franklin and what did he mean to your coaching career?

Yeah. Cause Franklin has been a huge mentor in my career. You know, he and I met, I was working camps at the university of Maryland when he was the offensive coordinator there and an opportunity came open and because of my time working camp there, he offered me a GA spot and, you know, I was fortunate enough to be able to take it. And my career kind of followed him and he's actually the one who gave me my first opportunity at a power five position job. You know, I was his GA at two plus two spots at Vanderbilt and I left and went to the Buffalo Bills and was at Western Michigan. And he got the job at Penn state.

He called me. Um, and probably, you know, I was honestly gave me the first opportunity to coach on the main stage or the national stage at Penn state, you know, and that I'm forever indebted to him because something he saw in me a long time ago, gave him the confidence that didn't want me to be a part of his staff at Penn state. And, you know, we were able to recruit some really good players and won the big 10 championship in 2016, but none of that would have been possible if he didn't, um, you know, give me the opportunity to kind of get my career started. And how'd you link up with coach Nick Saban and what are your takeaways from obviously the legendary coach?

Yeah, you know, I was at Mississippi state and we had done some really good things on the ground and then recruiting and obviously in that conference, you know, once you've done some things, um, you know, people start to look and, you know, and I got a call and he and I talked and was able to join the staff and probably doctor level coaching. Um, he's probably had the most impactful, um, you know, part of my head coaching career and philosophy of what we do. Um, the consistency and discipline and routine, um, is probably the biggest thing that I picked up from coach Saban.

Obviously we could talk for another 45 days on the things that I've learned, but consistency in your approach and discipline in your routine. And that's why, you know, you say it's cliche, but you know, we, we're, we focused on how we beat Notre Dame, not who we beat and how do we beat them? We prepared really well during the week. We played really hard and we executed. And that's what we got to do, you know, moving forward this week. Uh, we got to prepare really well for pulling green.

We got to play really hard on Saturday and then we got to execute. I know that sounds very, um, cliche or whatever it may be, but you know, my time with coach Saban, that's the way it was. It didn't matter if we were playing, preparing to play Georgia or preparing to play in the national championship. It was, you know, the same routine, the same focus, the same attention to detail, um, and the results will come.

Clearly you got a ton of great experience. When you took the job at Marshall, you always wonder if it's the right fit because there could be a really good coaching prospect, but maybe it's just not the right fit. Why was Marshall the right fit for you? Yeah, I think, you know, you know, the history and tradition, um, here at Marshall, um, the fan enthusiasm and energy and passion behind the place, um, the brand recognition, you know, I felt like it was a stable foundation. So from a recruiting standpoint, the brand is recognizable.

I can go into any home and they may not know where Marshall is, but they probably trigger Randy Malls, Byron Leftwich, Jad Paddington. Um, you know, so the brand is recognizable. Then again, I think the foundation was set here, you know, they, they, they weren't a losing program.

They won just not championships, you know, so they were always winning 7, 8, 9, 10 games. So they were respectable, you know, uh, team. Um, and then the fan engagement, you know, you want to be able to, to get people excited about your program. And I think the fans here, um, are so entrenched, uh, with this, you know, football team and the university because of the history that it makes it really easy to recruit and really easy to attract the right young men to Huntington. Um, because they come here and they come here and the fans, you know, and golf them and love them and, you know, show them the community feel, um, the brand gives them a chance to chase your dreams at the highest level.

Um, and then, you know, when you're recruiting coaches, you gotta be able to recruit really good coaches and they understand that. So for me, it was a really good opportunity. I had a bunch of other opportunities that didn't work out.

It wasn't the right fit. Um, but for me and my focus, my vision, my process fit what they were looking for. Um, and they had an unbelievable platform to do it. Also not a bad week for the conference, right? No, I mean, honestly, um, Georgia Southern playing phenomenal, actually it helps us, you know, it helps us focus in on this game, you know, cause sometimes, you know, you beat that power five school and you think, Oh, we'll be easy.

Yeah. Um, it kind of gave us the wake up call, you know, it was like, wow, you know, we had a big win, but so did that. So did your son, um, ODU, you know, a couple of weeks ago beating Virginia tag. And I think what it allows us to do is understand that the process in which we operate in every single week is more important than the opponent. And hopefully we can kind of replicate the right process each week, um, to have success on Saturdays.

Well, love the game this past weekend. Love your story as well. Really do appreciate the time. Congratulations and good luck. The rest of the way, coach Charles Huff. Thank you, man. I appreciate you having me on, man. You tell your listeners that this is probably the best radio show in the land.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-02 15:28:21 / 2023-02-02 15:35:42 / 7

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