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Up-Tempo Offense Not Permanent At Marshall

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Doc Holliday and Marshall understand the up-tempo offense is not permanent for championship football. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images.
Doc Holliday and Marshall understand the up-tempo offense is not permanent for championship football. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images.

Up-tempo offenses are taking over college football, but why?  

The up-tempo offense is allowing a majority of college football teams to have the ability to compete, when in the past that wouldn't be true for a majority of the programs running this offense.  

Competing for enough wins to reach a bowl or win divisional and conference championships is one thing, but how often are these up-tempo offenses competing for what is the pinnacle of the sport, the crystal ball?  

Auburn won the 2010 national championship and ran an up-tempo offense, but it also relied heavily on defense.  

I sat down with Marshall's head coach, Doc Holliday, about his switching to the up-tempo style of offense. His situation is much different.

"I like the up-tempo offense, but I also understand from a head coaching standpoint, tell me how many teams win championships running that," Holliday told Football.com.   "From a national perspective (or within) our conference — the teams that play the best defense in our conference have won the conference the last three years. It's not the team that outscores you. There's got to be a balance there. At some point you have to be able to get off the field."   

So why is it that a majority of teams in college football want to adapt a gimmicky style of football? I think it is quite simple: Their football program is better off winning a few extra games compared to what they would win with a traditional style of football. A few extra wins is good, but not as good as wins that relate to securing a crystal football.  

Doc Holliday gets it. He understands sometimes in recruiting, a team may obtain personnel that can adapt to running a faster offense. That is what happened when he was able to have quarterback Rakeem Cato run his offense.  

Holliday also understands it is not a yearly operation for everyone.

"We can't take a step back," the fourth-year Marshall head coach said. "We just have to continue to get better and I feel better offensively. Up front, we are better from a year ago. But at times, we have to be able to change tempos and not go fast all the time. We also have to play good defense."  

The former West Virginia linebacker understands what wins championships in college football and how teams should only speed up the offense when they have the personnel to do so.   

"It was something we almost had to do because of our personnel, but in order for us to win we have to play defense," Holliday said.  

Holliday knows how to coach both offense and defense, and has won championships doing it. He spent 20 years as an assistant at West Virginia (1979-1999), coaching wide receivers and then later inside linebackers under Don Nehlen.    

In 2000, Holliday became the associate head coach at North Carolina State under Chuck Amato. He was the Wolfpack's receivers coach and coached the likes of Jericho Cothchery and Koren Robinson.  

In 2005, the Florida Gators and Urban Meyer came calling. Meyer, who relies heavily on defense, gave Holliday an enormous role on his Gators coaching staff. Holliday took on the responsibilities of Meyer's associate head coach, safeties coach, and recruiting coordinator.  

The rest is history as Florida won the 2006 national championship. Holliday did not stay around for Florida's 2008 national championship as Doc went back home to be Bill Stewart's associate head coach, tight ends coach, fullbacks coach, and recruiting coordinator for West Virginia.  

Holliday again excelled in this capacity and then was asked to become Marshall's head coach in 2010.  

Holliday's predecessor, Mark Snyder, did not leave Marshall's program in good standing. Snyder went 22-37 in five seasons. All were losing seasons besides his 6-6 2009 campaign.  

Holliday has Marshall turned around and the media picked The Thundering Herd to finish second in the C-USA East Division. Rakeem Cato was voted on by the media as Conference USA's preseason offensive player of the year.