Update: Marshall coach Doc Holliday has responded to reports that West Virginia governor Jim Justice sought to replace the Thundering Herd coach with former Marshall boss Bobby Pruett.
"I'm sad. I think it's sad, to be honest with you, sad day for everybody," Holliday told reporters. "That being said, I'm only concerned about this football team. My job is to coach this team, to be around these kids, love them and get them better so that we can become a better team. That's the only thing I'm worried about."
A wild story has emerged from West Virginia as politics and college football have collided in a major way at Marshall.
According to reports in the WV Metro News and Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia governor Jim Justice "has sought to oust the head football coach, Doc Holliday, and install his longtime friend and former Herd coach Bobby Pruett."
Nick Casey, the governor's chief of staff, offered a statement of clarification to WV Metro News.
Casey claimed Justice focused more broadly on challenging the board to raise Marshall's overall profile — touching on the need to bolster enrollment, acquire additional research funding and generate more energy before the school is "turned into a community college."
"It was not a meeting to say 'Fire the coach and hire Pruett," Casey said. "It was a meeting to say ratchet up your game and do something to get yourself back to greatness."
Both Bobby Pruett and former West Virginia coach Don Nehlen supported Justice during his gubernatorial campaign, but it wasn't until after his election that reported talk of change within the Marshall football program began to surface.
Justice has been meeting with members of Marshall's board of governors and in the process of discussing "a number of issues," reportedly asked the board members to consider firing Holliday, along with athletic director Mike Hamrick, who hired Holliday after the 2009 regular season to replace Mark Snyder.
Holliday has gone 53-37 in eight years leading the Herd with a 4-0 bowl record and a top-25 finish in 2014 after winning the Conference USA championship. However, after three straight double-digit win seasons, Marshall went 3-9 in 2016.