HERD PLAYERS EXCITED FOR BOWL IN TAMPA
HUNTINGTON — On Sunday, Marshall University football fans waited with anticipation to find out the Thundering Herd’s bowl destination.
However, that anticipation pales in comparison to the players.
At last, at about 3:45 p.m. Sunday, the players found out that they were headed to Tampa, Florida, to take on the University of South Florida in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in an 8 p.m. Dec. 20 contest.
“It’s another exciting thing to wonder where we’re going to play and, of course, everybody on the team is very excited to go to Florida because most of the guys are from Florida,” Marshall wide receiver Marcel Williams said. “It’s going to be a very exciting game, an emotional game for the seniors. We’ve got to make sure that we go out and do the things we need to do to make sure we end it in the right way.”
Marshall’s players went through weightlifting sessions early Sunday, but once the College Football Playoff selection show listed the top four teams who will battle for the national championship and the subsequent participants of the New Year’s Six bowls, the trickle-down effect started with bowl matchups becoming known over the course of a two-hour stretch.
For the players, it was the ultimate waiting game as they used all resources necessary in an attempt to find out the information.
While the players are sending texts and making calls in an attempt to get their own information, they are also getting bombarded by people close to them who are also seeking an advantage to make travel arrangements.
“There’s a lot of text messages from family and friends, trying to figure out where you’re going and you never have the answers because we don’t find out any sooner than anybody else,” Marshall senior offensive lineman Jordan Dowrey said. “No matter how many times you tell them, they think you’re lying to them.”
Dowrey laughed while discussing the process, which turned into a social media freefor-all on Selection Sunday.
“Anytime I get a notification, I was checking it quick because I wanted to see what’s going on,” Dowrey said. “We got a text. One of our coaches saw it on Twitter, sent it to us and that’s how we found out.”
There was no team meeting, or group text to let the players know.
Instead, the players found out just as the rest of the nation did at 3:30 p.m. when Conference USA released the information on its Twitter account.
It seemed a bit peculiar, but Dowrey said that it is actually pretty normal.
“I don’t know it any other way,” Dowrey said. “I know my freshman year (2014), I got out of a non-travel lift on a Sunday and I got to my car, looked at my phone and, ‘Alright, we’re playing in Boca.’ That’s sort of how it’s been every year — just waiting, checking Twitter and seeing. That’s the quickest way to find stuff out. It’s always that waiting game on (that) Sunday.”
Now that the waiting game is over, Marshall’s players will head back to an area that is familiar.
A few of them — Dowrey included — played in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl, which is the same bowl game and committee as this year’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The lone differences are venue as the game shifts from St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium — home of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Herd’s opponent, South Florida.
“There is a level of familiarity for the guys who were in that game (2015 St. Petersburg Bowl) a couple of years back,” Dowrey said.
“There’s not a ton of us left, but there’s a handful of us that played in that game. There’s familiarity there, but it’s also a new city, a new stadium. All those sorts of things make the environment more fun.”
MARSHALL (8-4) VS. SOUTH FLORIDA (7-5)
8 p.m. Dec. 20
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM