Thursday, December 20, 2007

For Those Who Wonder - Doc Holliday

John "Doc" Holliday was born August 14, 1851 and was an American dentist, gambler and gunfighter of the Old West. In September 1873, he went to Texas where he opened a dental office. He soon began gambling and realized this was a more profitable source of income. In Dallas, he was indicted, along with 12 others, for illegal gambling. He was arrested in Dallas in January 1875 after trading gunfire with a saloon-keeper, but no one was injured and he was found not guilty. He moved his offices to Denison, Texas, and after being found guilty of, and fined for, "gaming" in Dallas, he decided to leave the state.

By 1877, Holliday was in Fort Griffin, Texas, where Wyatt Earp remembered first meeting him. The two began to form an unlikely friendship; Earp more even-tempered and controlled, Holliday more hot-headed and impulsive. This friendship was cemented in 1878 in Dodge City, Kansas, where both Earp and Holliday had traveled to make money gambling with the cowboys who drove cattle from Texas. On the side, Holliday was still practicing dentistry from his rooms in Dodge City, as indicated in an 1878 Dodge newspaper advertisement (he promised money back for less than complete customer satisfaction), but this is the last known time he attempted practice.

After many years of gambling and riding the range with Wyatt Earp, Holliday began to settle down. By the 1970s, the Old West had died and Holliday went to college and graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education in 1979, then graduated with a Master's Degree in 1981 in Safety Management. Holliday was also a three-year letterwinner while playing linebacker at West Virginia.

In 1979, Holliday became a graduate assistant for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team. Then in 1981, he became a part-time assistant until 1982. Holliday became wide receivers coach in 1983 and remained at that position until 1989.

In 1990, Holliday became the inside linebackers coach. He remained coaching the linebackers until 1992. In 1993, he returned to coaching the receivers. In 1995, Holliday was promoted to assistant head coach, while still maintaining receivers.

During his tenure at West Virginia under head coach Don Nehlen, Holliday achieved a prestiguous record. He coached the top three career and single-season reception leaders in school history and eight of the top ten players in both categories. He also coached the leading receivers in the Big East in 1996, 1997, and 1998 while also coaching three of the top six receivers in Big East history. He coached third-team All-American receiver Reggie Rembert, three-time all-Big East receiver Rahsaan Vanterpool, all-Big East receiver David Saunders, all-Big East receiver Shawn Foreman, and all-Big East receiver Khori Ivy during his tenure and also was responsible for seven eventual NFL draftees.

Holliday was also the main recruiting coach in the Florida-area for West Virginia. Holliday was responsible for recruiting majors stars, such as linebacker Steve Grant, and became one of the best recruiters in the nation. He also helped the Mountaineers to 12 bowl games in his twenty years at West Virginia.

In 2000, Holliday left West Virginia for North Carolina State. There he became the assosciate head coach and wide receivers coach. He remained at NC State until 2004.

During his time in North Carolina, Holliday coached three of the top eight receivers in school history: Koren Robinson, Bryan Peterson and Jerricho Cotchery. In 2001, the squad set school records for completion percentage and fewest turnovers, while the 2002 team led the ACC in scoring. That squad also finished with school records of total yards, passing yards, most points scored, and most first downs in a season. The 2003 squad then set records in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns, and pass completion percentage.

In 2005, Holliday traveled to the University of Florida and became the Gators' assosciate head coach, safeties coach, and recruiting coordinator. In 2005, Holliday was named one of's Top 25 Recruiters, while also tutoring a secondary that only allowed 52.3% of passing to be completed which was 16th best in the nation.

He guided safety Reggie Nelson to a consensus All-American honor and to become a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2006. Also in that season, the Gators' pass defense efficiency was fourth-ranked nationally and second in the SEC while only surrending a nationally tenth-ranked 10 touchdowns all season and sixth in the nation in scoring defense.

Obviously Holliday's journey from gun-slinging gambler to one of the top recruiters in the nation is an inspiration in the Old West. But the fact remains that Holliday has never been a head coach in college football and many wonder if his old habits are behind him. If West Virginia goes in this direction, will we get the Holliday that can recruit like none other or will we get a dentist that has gone bad?

No comments: