Friday, August 14, 2009

Alumnus' return excites fans, friends and relatives

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - If the enthusiastic response of Cabell Circuit Court Judge Dan O'Hanlon is any indication, Marshall University made the perfect pick in hiring Mike Hamrick as its next athletic director. "What a great day for Marshall University," O'Hanlon told Board of Governors member John Hess on Monday afternoon, a few minutes before Hamrick's introductory news conference began. "I am so excited. This is fantastic." Others apparently agree. More than 100 people crammed into the Cam Henderson Center's Robert C. Hartley Room to welcome home Hamrick, a 51-year-old Clendenin native and Herbert Hoover High School product who graduated from Marshall in 1980 and played football for the Herd in 1976-79. Among those in the crowd were some of his former Marshall teammates, including Bob Campbell (East Bank), Howie Harris (East Bank) and Mike Johnson (South Charleston). Hamrick poked fun at his special guests during his speech. "I see some old friends, some guys back there who still think they can play," he said. "They never could play, but they still think they can play." The Herd was 5-6 in 1976, 2-9 in '77, 1-10 in '78 and 1-10 in '79. "I left here in 1980 after the four greatest years of my life," Hamrick said. "Some of the guys in the back can attest to that. I see a few of them. We didn't win very many football games, but we tried. We gave it that good effort. We always represented this university in a positive manner. "We believe we helped set the groundwork for this program (which had 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1984-2003). I got here after the plane crash (which killed 75 people in 1970, most of them football players and coaches). The newness of the Young Thundering Herd had worn off. It was a great education. It was a good time. We tried hard for Marshall University. "Over those four years, that set the tone for the rest of my life. I owe that to this university. I owe that to all of the supporters of this athletic program and this university because I would not be in the position I am at today or had the opportunities I have had without Marshall University." Some of the Herd head coaches also attended, including Mark Snyder (football) and Donnie Jones (men's basketball).

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