HUNTINGTON — When the Atlantic Coast Conference made its decision to shift to a modified schedule this week, Conference USA took a big hit in terms of major television opportunities for its teams.
Three Conference USA schools were scheduled to host ACC schools in the 2020 season, which would have meant increased television exposure and opportunities for the league.
However, those games went by the wayside with the ACC’s rule that the one non-conference game allowable in 2020 has to happen in the home location of the league member.
That meant Marshall lost a valuable home date with Pittsburgh on Sept. 12.
It also meant that Old Dominion lost a Sept. 4 home date with Wake Forest and Middle Tennessee lost a Sept. 19 home date with Virginia Tech.
While those games will not happen, Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said on Friday that Conference USA remains committed to a schedule filling as many games in a 12-game regular season as possible.
The league is going to keep its eight-game league schedule and permit teams to schedule as many non-conference games as are feasible.
The move is one that aids finances for a cash-strapped league at a time when COVID-19 has caused cuts nationwide. It also provides flexibility in case a program gets into trouble with COVID-19 spikes or opponents opting out of games.
Hamrick added that if teams have trouble scheduling out-of-conference games, the opportunity is there to add fellow C-USA teams as non-conference games to fill out a schedule.
“You have four non-conference games and if you can play them, do so,” Hamrick said. “If not, play whoever you want to play.”
While the Power 5 conferences all seem to be headed toward a modified scheduling model, it seems the Group of Five programs are looking to maintain as much of a 12-game slate as possible.
Doing so could be key financially for programs to minimize losses within the 2020 season.
Marshall has already lost its Sept. 12 game with Pittsburgh, which means there is an opening in the schedule that Hamrick will look to fill.
Given the circumstances, scheduling in the 2020 season may be pieced together on the fly.
“All of it could change tomorrow,” Hamrick said.
NEW NUMBERS: Each year produces a game of musical numbers as players look to change around their jersey.
The 2020 season brought about many changes to the Herd roster. Here’s an effort to keep eyes from crossing.
— DE Sam Burton: No. 33 to No. 0
— CB Steven Gilmore: No. 34 to No. 3
— RB Lawrence Papillon: No. 24 to No. 4
— DB Micah Abraham: No. 21 to No. 5
— WR Corey Gammage: No. 14 to No. 7
— WR Caleb McMillan: No. 81 to No. 10
— WR Broc Thompson: No. 88 to No. 13
— S Naquan Renalds: No. 80 to No. 14
— RB Knowledge McDaniel: No. 23 to No. 15
— DL Koby Cumberlander: No. 56 to No. 32
— DL Owen Porter: No. 43 to No. 55
— OL Logan Osburn: No. 69 to No. 65
— TE Jacob Kirkendoll: No. 87 to No. 82
Also, Darius Hodge is listed as No. 44 on the roster and new linebacker Charlie Gray is listed as No. 2, but it appears Hodge is wearing No. 2 and Gray is in No. 9.
The moral of the story: if filling out a roster, do so in pencil.
NEW FACES: In all, there are 41 new faces between signees, walk-ons and academic non-qualifiers who have joined the program.
Of those players, 22 came on the defensive side of the football with 12 being defensive backs.
There were also five linebackers and five defensive linemen.
Offensively, the biggest number came at wide receiver with five new targets.
BELL AT MARSHALL, NOT ON ROSTER...YET: Highly-touted Maryland defensive back Charles Bell was not listed on Marshall’s roster when it was released on Friday.
While he is not on the roster, officials confirmed that Bell is in Huntington on campus.
It appears there may be an NCAA Clearinghouse issue that is currently keeping him off the field, but the prospects remain that he will join the program.
DRAYTON ON FIELD: One surprise to the roster was the inclusion of Marshall senior safety Brandon Drayton.
Drayton was arrested on battery and strangulation charges last October and was not with the team for the rest of the season, even though he remained on the roster.
On Friday, Drayton was back on the field participating, and Marshall head coach Doc Holliday clarified his situation with the program.
“He will not play until things are totally cleared up,” Holliday said. “If that happens, it happens and he’ll have a chance. If not, he won’t play.”