HUNTINGTON — One of the keys to the success of Marshall coach Doc Holliday has been the offseason work put in by the team with the Thundering Herd strength and conditioning staff.
Now, Holliday is looking for a new leader of that department.
On Monday, Marshall strength and conditioning coordinator Luke Day resigned his position with the Herd. He is expected to accept a position on the strength staff at the University of Colorado for new head coach Mel Tucker.
Day confirmed his departure by phone on Tuesday and the position was posted to Marshall University’s jobs site. He said the decision was not an easy one, given his love for the Thundering Herd program.
“Special is the word for it,” Day said. “The players, the coaches — they all made our time there special, for sure. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and it will forever be a place that we identify as home.”
The opportunity at Colorado allows Day to reunite with several former colleagues, most notably defensive coordinator Tyson Summers, who is one of Day’s best friends in coaching.
Summers recently made the move to Colorado at the same time as Tucker, who was Georgia’s defensive coordinator.
At Georgia, Summers worked closely with strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair, who had joined the Bulldogs’ staff after a stint at Marshall. Sinclair recommended Day for the Marshall position and all three — Summers, Sinclair and Day — had spent time together at UCF from 2012-14.
“He’s one of my closest friends in this business,” Day said of Summers. “His family and my family are tight as well. When we heard they were coming to Colorado and the opportunity presented itself, it was even more intriguing.”
The expectation is that Marshall will move quickly to fill the void left by Day’s departure.
Marshall players have to be back by the end of the week to get the spring semester started and offseason workouts are scheduled to start early in the week.
The Herd goes into the offseason with momentum after winning six of their last eight games to end the season.
That figure included a dominant 38-20 win over South Florida in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl — a game in which Marshall had possession for 11:30 of the final 15 minutes of action to salt the game away.
Following that win, Holliday praised the work done by Day and his staff to help the team finish strong throughout the year.
“We take great pride in our strength program and we were,” Holliday said. “We take great pride that there is nowhere to hide in our program. We’re an extremely tough team and you have to finish games like that. We talk about finishing in the fourth quarter. A lot of that credit and what happened in that fourth quarter goes to Luke and our strength staff because that’s where it all starts.”
Day followed Sinclair, who recommended him for the position. Both fall under the coaching tree of veteran Georgia senior associate director of strength and conditioning Ed Ellis, who has influenced many in the realm of strength and conditioning. Day and Sinclair each worked for Ellis at UCF.
Day gave Ellis credit for helping him develop into the coach he is today.
“Really, one of the best-kept secrets in strength and conditioning is the coaching tree of Ed Ellis,” Day said. “That guy, I owe a lot to him and he’s one of the best there is in the business. He’s quietly gone about his business and quietly been very, very successful his whole career and he’s put out a lot of really good coaches who developed underneath him.”
Day’s departure comes just days before he hits the three-year mark in Huntington. He was hired on Jan. 19, 2016, to replace Sinclair, who took a similar position at Georgia after three years at Marshall.
Just three days into his tenure with the Herd, Day and his wife, Trisha, welcomed their daughter, Norah, who joined older brother Jay to comprise the family of four.
Day came to Marshall after spending a season as an assistant on the Cincinnati Bengals’ strength staff.
With Day’s departure, Marshall now has three vacancies on its football staff: strength and conditioning coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.