Fans cheer again for Reggie Oliver
HUNTINGTON — Reggie Oliver received one more standing ovation.
Marshall University honored the late Young Thundering Herd quarterback Saturday before its football game with N.C. State at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Oliver, 66, died last month after suffering a head injury from a fall at his home in Alabama.
Saturday was declared “Reggie Oliver Day” at Marshall. He played for Marshall in the seasons (1971-72-73) following the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash that took the lives of 75 people including most of the Herd football team along with some fans, administrators and the flight crew.
More than 30 of Oliver’s Marshall teammates gathered on the field and sported green T-shirts with the quarterback’s No. 12 and “Oliver” on the back. Those former players remained on the field through the coin toss.
As a video honoring Oliver played on the videoboard, fans, even those from N.C. State stood and watched before breaking into applause at the conclusion.
COMMISSIONER IN TOWN: Conference USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod attended Saturday’s football game and discussed several topics, beginning with Marshall’s video capabilities.
MacLeod said she was impressed with MU’s video production facilities.
“Marshall has kind of set the tone for us,” MacLeod said. “They’re doing very well. Some of our schools have lagged behind in that area, but Marshall has stepped up.”
MacLeod also said legalized gambling is a concern.
“We talk about it all the time,” she said. “We’ll see what states do and if at the federal level there is any regulation. Our conference has such a wide berth, so there are a lot of moving pieces.”
Another source of concern is declining attendance, which has plagued sports at the professional and amateur levels throughout the nation. MacLeod said the days of simply opening the gates and expecting people to fill stadiums and arenas are gone.
“You have to make it an event,” MacLeod said. “It has to be a social experience. You have to have something before the game, at halftime or even after the game that will bring people in.”
DRIVE STOPPED: Game-day parking, often a challenge, became even more of an adventure Saturday when a van became stuck in the parking garage across 3rd Avenue from Cam Henderson Center, temporarily closing the garage two hours before kickoff.
The vehicle, taller than the 8-foot-6 limit, sustained roof damage, but was freed by the Huntington Police Department and Nicely’s Towing. How? They let air out of the tires.
ROUNDING UP: Scouts from the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles had seats in the press box Saturday. ... N.C. State Sports Information Director Annabelle (Vaughn) Myers is familiar with Marshall, having been the SID at East Tennessee State during the Herd’s day’s in the Southern Conference. ... The officials from Saturday’s game were from the Atlantic Coast Conference. ... Wolfpack wide receiver Thayer Thomas is the son of former Marshall offensive lineman Trevor Thomas. Thayer Thomas caught a 26-yard pass on N.C. State’s first play. ... N.C. State graduate assistant Joe Scelfo is the son of former Marshall offensive line coach Chris Scelfo.