West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice reportedly has met twice with Marshall University officials in recent months and asked them to fire football coach Doc Holliday.
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Justice wants Holliday gone and former coach Bob Pruett brought back to take his place.
The report says Justice first met with school president Jerome Gilbert on Dec. 4, weeks after he was elected. The governor's chief of staff, Nick Casey, said the state of the Marshall program was discussed generally at that meeting.
“It was not a meeting to say, ‘Fire the coach and hire Pruett,’” Casey said in a statement to the Gazette-Mail on Wednesday evening. “It was a meeting to say, ‘Ratchet up your game and do something to get yourself back to greatness.’”
That message apparently wasn't enough. According to the Gazette-Mail's unidentifiedsource, Justice then met with five members of Marshall's board of governors March 28 and asked them to fire not only Hollidaybut also athletic director Mike Hamrick and Gilbert, the school president.
Holliday is 53-37, with four bowl appearances in seven seasonsbut is coming off a 3-9 campaign. Hired by Hamrick in December 2009, Holliday had no previous ties to Marshall but strong roots in the state. He played linebacker for West Virginia and spent more than 20 years as an assistant coach for the Mountaineers with stints at North Carolina State and Florida in between.
Pruett, 73, retired from Marshall after the 2004 season. He returned to the sidelineto serve as Virginia's defensive coordinator in 2008 but quickly reentered retirement. Pruett was at the helm of Marshall's most successful teams, coaching future NFL players Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich and compiling a 94-23 record in nine seasons.