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HUNTINGTON — The post-Christmas break didn’t last long for Marshall interim athletic director Jeff O’Malley.

On Sunday, O’Malley reached out to Pac-12 officials about being a potential replacement for Miami in the Sun Bowl after the Hurricanes were forced to pull out due to a depleted roster from COVID-19 issues within the program.

Those Pac-12 officials reached back out to O’Malley on Monday morning and expressed interest in the Thundering Herd as a replacement to face Washington State, which had already landed in El Paso, Texas, to prepare for the Sun Bowl when Miami was forced to withdraw from the game.

Discussions on Monday morning centered around the game date, which became a sticking point for those conversations.

For Marshall to be involved in the game on its original Friday date, the team would’ve had to be brought together quickly with many not arriving back until Wednesday.

The team would’ve likely gotten in one full practice on Wednesday once everyone returned before flying out on Thursday to play in Friday’s game — a scenario that O’Malley felt was too risky, which is why he was requesting the date of the game be moved to accommodate.

“There was no interest in moving the game, from what I understand,” O’Malley said. “It’s just a matter of getting the kids back since they are already gone and making sure they have enough practice repetitions to feel comfortable putting them out there.

“If we tried right now, it would be Wednesday before we had most of them back. That’s not a good situation at that point.”

Such a move would have been subject to NCAA approval, which may not have come anyway.

There was some uncertainty as to the NCAA’s stance on the matter because the overseeing body of collegiate sports was vague on the matter last week when Marshall inquired about the Gator Bowl vacancy left after Texas A&M pulled out of its matchup with Wake Forest due to COVID-19 issues.

On Sunday night, Action Network’s Brett McMurphy tweeted, “Based on last week’s NCAA Football Oversight Committee decision, teams who already played in bowl are not eligible to replace Miami in Sun Bowl, so that would eliminate hometown UTEP. Only teams w/5-7 records based on APR can be chosen — unless there’s last-minute change by NCAA.”

That tweet led many to assume the NCAA had solidified its stance on the matter.

However, the NCAA’s statement put out last week at the time of the Gator Bowl vacancy never definitively addressed the prospect of a program playing in multiple bowls.

That NCAA statement only addressed the NCAA’s procedure for selecting 5-7 teams for bowl participation, based on Academic Performance Rates, leaving the door open for the discussion of a team to play in multiple bowls, which led to O’Malley’s inquiry with the Pac-12 officials.

Of note, McMurphy was also the first to put out information regarding Marshall’s interest in the Sun Bowl opening on Monday, which would not have been done without merit.

The situation did show O’Malley’s intent to think outside the box for ways to accommodate his own program’s best interests, on which he spoke when addressing the Sun Bowl discussions.

“It shows we’re willing to try and do everything we can to move this program and university forward to put it in the best possible light,” O’Malley said.

“If that means playing safely in another bowl game, that would be a great scenario and it would be a lot of positive exposure for the football program and for the university.”

Grant Traylor is the sports editor of The Herald-Dispatch and covers Marshall athletics for HD Media. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.