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Marshall Football Coach Pruett Retires
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Old 09 Mar 2005, 05:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Marshall Football Coach Pruett Retires

By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall football coach Bob Pruett retired Wednesday after nine years, saying it was time to move on.

The 61-year-old Pruett told the team of his decision in the morning and held a final news conference three hours later. Larry Kueck, Marshall's associate offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will serve as interim coach.

"It's not about winning and losing. It's not about money. It's not about anything I didn't get," Pruett said. "It's just time. It's well thought out. This is not a sudden thing."

Athletic director Bob Marcum was disappointed, but he respected Pruett's decision.

"There's no doubt, I've tried everything possible to talk coach Pruett out of it. In fact, I offered him my job," Marcum said jokingly. "I said, 'Listen, if you want to be the athletic director, that's no problem. I'm highly mobile.'

"He said, 'That's crazy. I'm giving up one pressure cooker. Why do I want to take another one?'"

The decision comes as Marshall prepares to enter Conference USA this fall. The Thundering Herd finished their final season in the Mid-American Conference with a 6-6 record, their first non-winning season in 21 years. The school moved to Division I-A in 1997, a year after it won the Division I-AA national championship.

Pruett is the most successful coach in Marshall history, going 94-23 with five MAC championships and five postseason bowl victories.

During his tenure, Pruett coached several future NFL stars, including receiver Randy Moss and quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich.

Marshall won the conference championship from 1997-2000 and 2002. Pennington led the 1999 team to a 13-0 record, capped with a top 10 national ranking.

Pruett, who said his health was fine, wanted to spend more time with his four grandsons.

"I'm not stepping away from Marshall," Pruett said. "All I am is just taking a different role. I'm becoming a supporter and a fan."

Pruett said he plans to meet with interim Marshall President Michael J. Farrell in April to see if he can continue with the university in another capacity.

Kueck plans to make few changes other than to accommodate the roster turnover from last season.

An assistant coach at 12 different schools since 1975, Kueck came to Marshall with Pruett in 1996 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for one season, then returned in 2002.

"It's a bittersweet day for me," Kueck said. "Anybody that tells you you're not excited is lying to you. But I'm really going to miss seeing a really good friend every day."

Pruett signed a contract in 2003 that would have kept him at the school through the 2010 season. He earned a guaranteed $266,000 annually, but the contract stipulated that it could be renegotiated if Marshall changed conferences.

The coach's tenure was marred by a lawsuit filed in 2003 that accused Marshall and several administrators of scapegoating the school's former NCAA (news - web sites) athletic compliance director in an attempt to conceal an improper employment scheme for student-athletes. The lawsuit alleges that Pruett and other members of the coaching staff tried to cover up the employment program.

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This came as a huge shock to me considering Marshalls move to C-USA for 2005.

I think Pruitt more than anything will be remembered for how he made WVU/Marshall a rivalry, though they only played once during his tenure.
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