HUNTINGTON — This week has been anything but normal for Mark Gale, Marshall’s assistant athletic director of operations.
Not only is Gale charged with the logistics of a mid-week trip across two time zones for a Friday night contest at Boise State, but he is also conflicted in many ways.
This week, Gale has to cheer against his family, which goes against everything in his moral fiber — one that he tries to instill in the Marshall players he assists.
That’s because Gale’s nephew, Tyson Gale, is assistant director of sports performance at Boise State.
And yes, that’s the same Tyson Gale who was a linebacker for Marshall from 2008-11 before staying on with the Herd staff for two years as a graduate assistant.
“It will be strange seeing Tyson on the other sideline because of how important he was to the program here for the time he was here,” Mark Gale said. “I’m an awfully proud uncle. You’re talking about your first strength job and you’re at a pretty good program. I’m very proud of him. My brother and sister-in-law will be in also, wearing that blue instead of that green that they wore for so many years.”
As Marshall’s director of operations, it is common for Gale to leave for an opposing venue a couple days before everyone else.
This time will be special, though, as he and Tyson are set to meet up for dinner on Tuesday evening.
“We talked last week or week before that we’ll have dinner [Tuesday] night,” Gale said. “I bought him enough dinners when he played and I bought for him back in February when I was there. It’s time he blows the dust out of that wallet of his and buys mine tomorrow night.
“It’ll be good to see him, though, and it’ll be good to see my brother. Gosh, I haven’t seen my brother since probably North Texas [Oct. 2016], I think.”
In a sense, there’s a poetic beauty about the reunion happening in Boise, Idaho, this week.
Both Mark and Tyson Gale are natives of Oklahoma, who made their way to Huntington due to the love of football.
Thirty years ago, Mark Gale got his start with the Herd when he followed Jim Donnan — then the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma — to the staff at Marshall when Donnan was hired as head coach in 1990.
At the time, Mark Gale knew nothing about Huntington, West Virginia, which is a similar journey that Tyson Gale has been on.
Like his uncle, Tyson Gale left the comfort of home in Oklahoma to play football at Marshall before joining the graduate coaching ranks. Once his time in Huntington was up, Tyson Gale again made another “sight unseen” journey to Boise State, going out of his comfort level to chase his coaching dreams.
“He had no connections at Boise — zero,” Mark Gale said. “As it was explained to me, [Boise State head coach Bryan] Harsin found that they had former players on the Eagles and they asked Vinny Curry what he knows about Tyson and then, they had guys with the Ravens, so they asked Albert McClellan.
“From what I was told, glowing recommendations about Tyson and his work ethic. As it was told to me, he was the first one to interview and they canceled the other interviews. Now, he’s in year five or six out there, I guess.”
Mark Gale has made his living as a football coach and staff member with success based on three key principles: honesty, family and the love of football.
This week, those aspects contradict each other as two of the Group of Five’s most consistent programs meet at 9 p.m. on Friday.
“It’ll be good to see him because family is awfully important,” Mark Gale said. “But we’re on a business trip, also.”