By Bishop Nash
The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — In his own words, Bob Pruett has no interest in returning as Marshall University’s head football coach.
Pruett released a statement to The Herald-Dispatch on Friday night reinforcing his support for current head coach Doc Holliday after reports surfaced that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who Pruett campaigned alongside during the 2016 election, sought to replace Holliday with the 73-year-old former head coach.
“I love Marshall University and what’s best for this school. I have not been offered a job or asked for a coaching job,” Pruett said Friday in a prepared statement. “I’ve made it clear that I support Doc Holliday. I’ve said it in print and I’ve said it on my radio show many times. I am not a candidate for any job at Marshall or any other place.”
Multiple state media outlets, including The Herald-Dispatch, have reported Justice, a Marshall alumnus and longtime supporter, has advocated for the university to remove Holliday in favor of Pruett following the Herd’s 3-9 football season in 2016.
Pruett, who had been traveling this week, had not spoken out on the matter until he returned to his Barboursville home Friday night. After voluntarily resigning as Marshall’s head coach just before spring practice in 2004, Pruett came out of retirement four seasons later to become defensive coordinator for the University of Virginia in 2008.
Pruett retired at UVA after just one season and has not pursued a coaching position since.
“I really enjoy being retired,” Pruett said Friday. “Last night I was doing nothing when I went to bed. The greatest thing about that: When I got up this morning, I did not have to start over. I just picked up doing nothing where I left off.”
Pruett, a Beckley native, led the Thundering Herd to a 94-23 record over his nine-year tenure as head coach from 1996 to 2004, compiling five bowl victories, six conference championships, two undefeated seasons and the 1996 Division I-AA championship.
Holliday, a Hurricane, West Virginia, native who turns 60 next Friday, has posted a 53-37 record since his hiring in 2010, including the 2014 Conference USA championship and a perfect 4-0 bowl record.
“Doc has a big job,” Pruett said. “We should be putting all our energy into helping him and Marshall be great. All I want is the state of West Virginia and Marshall to be champions. I am 74 June 20, and I am a retired football coach who loves this state and this university. I will help with anything Marshall University asks me to do.”
Pruett gave no further comment beyond the statement.
Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter @BishopNash.