Written by Justin Prince.
Embattled offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Bill Legg has resigned from his position on the Thundering Herd football team’s coaching staff Marshall University confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Legg had been in charge of the Thundering Herd’s offense for the entirety of the Doc Holliday era that began eight seasons ago in 2010. Legg and his play calling had come under fire last season during a disastrous 3-9 finish, with many fans placing the blame on the Herd’s offensive ineptitude.
During the 2016 season Marshall’s offense ranked 81st in the country scoring a mediocre 26.4 points per game while it’s defense gave up more than 35 a game and ranked 107th. In 2017 the Herd did rebound in terms of record going 8-5 with a 31-28 victory over Colorado State to win the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
Still, many Marshall fans were unhappy with an offense, which despite the major turn around in the team’s record, only improved marginally. This year the Thundering Herd offense finished ranked 79th in the Football Bowl Subdivision and scored 26.7 points per game. Chuck Heater’s defense however made huge leaps forward becoming a top 25 defense nationally, allowing less than 20 points per game.
In the Herd’s five losses in 2017 the offense mustered only 22.2 points and often put its defense in tough situations by turning the ball over 14 times in those losses. For fans it was the performance in those five games and the thoughts of what could have been that may have permanently soured them on Legg leading the team’s offense.
“After much deliberation, I feel that it is time to step down,” Legg said through a school press release. “It’s been a difficult decision because of many meaningful relationships. I want to thank all of those who have been supportive during my tenure and wish all the best to Marshall University, its student-athletes, my colleagues and coach Doc Holliday.”
While Legg’s offense had struggled for much of his tenure being ranked 75th or worse in four of his eight seasons as offensive coordinator there were bright spots. With quarterback Rakeem Cato at the helm the Marshall offense was one of the best in the country scoring more than 40 points per game for three straight seasons 2011-2014.
The 2014 season proved to be the highest point as the Herd went 13-1 and claimed its first and only Conference USA football title behind the strength of the nation’s third best scoring offense.
When Cato graduated, Legg’s offensive production dropped from third to 50th in 2015 before dropping yet again in 2016. The small movement up from 81st to 79th during the season that just ended proved not to be enough to change the perception of fans that it was time for Legg and Marshall athletics to part ways. Ultimately, Legg chose to go out on his own terms and resign.
This was Legg’s second stint with the school’s football program. He served as the team’s tight ends coach from 2001-2002 under then head coach Bob Pruett. No replacement for Legg has been named at this time but Holliday did say that he appreciated the contributions his long time friend made to the program.
“Billy and I have known each other for a long time,” Holliday said. “I thank him for his contributions to our team and our program and I wish him and Kelly (Legg’s wife) nothing but the best.”