We Are Marshall: Wikis


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We Are Marshall

From the ashes we rose
Directed by McG
Produced by McG
Basil Iwanyk
Written by Story:
Jamie Linden
Cory Helms
Jamie Linden
Starring Matthew McConaughey
Matthew Fox
Anthony Mackie
Kate Mara
Ian McShane
David Strathairn
Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Robert Patrick
Brian Geraghty
January Jones
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) December 22, 2006
Running time 124 minutes
Country United States
Language English

We Are Marshall is a 2006 American drama film directed by McG about the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed nearly all of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team; the rebuilding of the program; and the healing that the community undergoes. It stars Matthew McConaughey as head coach Jack Lengyel, Matthew Fox as assistant coach William "Red" Dawson, David Strathairn as University President Donald Dedmon and Robert Patrick as ill-fated Marshall head coach Rick Tolley. Georgia governor George "Sonny" Perdue has a cameo role as an East Carolina University football coach.[1] The movie is rated PG. The movie was scored by Christophe Beck and written by Jamie Linden.[2] Dr. Keith Spears was the Marshall University consultant.



On the evening of November 14, 1970, Southern Airways Flight 932, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 which Huntington, West Virginia's Marshall University chartered to transport the Thundering Herd football team to Greenville, North Carolina via Stallings Field in Kinston, North Carolina and back to Huntington, clipped trees on a ridge just one mile short of the runway at Tri-State Airport in Ceredo, West Virginia and crashed into a gully. The team was returning from their game against the East Carolina University Pirates — a 17–14 loss. There were no survivors. In all, 75 people lost their lives. The dead included the 37 players; head coach Rick Tolley and five members of his coaching staff; Charles E. Kautz, Marshall's athletics director; team trainer Jim Schroer and his assistant, Donald Tackett; 22 boosters; and five crew members.

In the wake of the tragedy, President Donald Dedmon leans towards indefinitely suspending the football program, but he is ultimately persuaded to reconsider by the pleas of the Marshall students and Huntington residents, and especially the few football players who didn't make the flight. Dedmon hires a young new head coach Jack Lengyel, who with the help of Red Dawson, manages to rebuild the team in a relatively short time. They are aided by the NCAA's waiver of a rule prohibiting freshmen from playing varsity football (a rule which had been abolished in 1968 for all sports except for football and basketball, and would be permanently abolished for those sports in 1972). The new team is composed mostly of the 18 returning players (three varsity, 15 sophomores) and walk-on athletes from other Marshall sports programs. Due to their lack of experience, the "Young Thundering Herd" ends up losing their first game, 29-6 to the Morehead State Eagles. The Herd's first post-crash victory is a heart-stopping 15–13 home win against Xavier University in the first home game of the season.

After the game, Annie Cantrell (played by Kate Mara) narrates the aftermath:

"The following week, Marshall lost to the Miami Redskins, now Miami RedHawks 66 to 6. They would win only one more game in 1971. Jack Lengyel resigned as head coach in 1974 with a record of 9–33. He would later become athletic director at the Naval Academy, where he was later inducted into the athletic Hall of Fame. Donald Dedmon accepted the presidency at Radford University where he would remain until he retired in 1994. Gene Morehouse's son Keith followed in his father's footsteps and became a broadcaster for Marshall football where he remains today. Reggie Oliver started every game for the Thundering Herd until he graduated. He later returned to Marshall as an assistant coach and now lives in Ohio. After graduation, Nate Ruffin moved away from Huntington, got married and started a family. In 2001, after an illness, Nate died at his home in Virginia. He would return to Huntington one last time for a reunion with his old teammates. Red Dawson left the team at the end of the year. He never returned to football."



Filming of We Are Marshall commenced on April 3, 2006, in Huntington, West Virginia, and was completed in Atlanta, Georgia. The premiere for the film was held at the Keith Albee Theater on December 12, 2006, in Huntington; other special screenings were held at Pullman Square. The movie was released nationwide on December 22, 2006.

Several aspects of the film were changed for dramatic purposes, although the gist of the story was retained.

DVD Release

We Are Marshall was released on DVD, HD DVD and Blu-Ray in the United States on September 18, 2007.


Deborah Novak and John Witek, who produced the 2000 documentary Marshall University: Ashes to Glory filed a $40 million lawsuit in federal court in California accusing Warner Bros. and others associated with the We Are Marshall film of fraud, copyright infringement and breach of contract.[3] Novak, who directed Marshall University: Ashes to Glory, is a Huntington native and Marshall alumnus. On November 19, 2008, a judge ruled in a summary judgment that the case was not built on solid ground and chose to dismiss it.

Comparisons to actual events

The memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia to the victims of the Southern Airways Flight 932 crash was the site of one of the film's pivotal scenes.
  • The name of the movie is based on a cheer performed by students and players at the university, which is also featured prominently in the movie. There is some argument about when the cheer actually began, but it is generally dated after the time period of the movie (post 1971).
  • The flight was not identified by a Marshall playbook. It was actually identified when a wallet belonging to one of the players was found.
  • In the movie, newspaper headlines are from the combined Sunday newspaper of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. In the scene where Coach Dawson views the November 15, 1970, newspaper, he sees a picture of himself as presumed dead. In reality, it was graduate assistant coach Gale Parker, who is not shown in the movie, who switched plane seats with assistant coach Deke Brackett. Parker in turn returned with Dawson to Huntington (Dawson and Brackett had made the recruiting trip to Virginia together). And the actual November 15, 1970, edition of the Huntington newspaper carried Brackett's photo and listed him as presumed aboard the plane, which was in fact the case. The weekday afternoon Advertiser ceased publication in 1979 and the seven-day paper is now The Herald-Dispatch. In one scene, a secretary refers to the paper as the Herald.
  • In the movie, Herndon Stadium in Atlanta was used as the football home stadium of Marshall. From 1927 to 1990, Marshall played its football games at Fairfield Stadium, which has since been torn down. The East Carolina game was filmed at James Hallford (formerly DeKalb Memorial) Stadium in the northeast Atlanta suburb of Clarkston. And the Morehead State game was filmed at Tara Stadium in Jonesboro, a south Atlanta suburb and fictional home of "Gone With The Wind" book and movie. However, the Morehead State University football field shown is Jayne Stadium, the actual field at Morehead State, with the coaches walking on the field in the movie.
  • Coaching legend Bobby Bowden of Florida State University was the head coach at West Virginia University at the time. Bowden asked NCAA permission to wear Marshall jerseys and play Marshall's final game of the 1970 season against Ohio, but was denied. In memory of the victims of the crash, Mountaineers players put green crosses and the initials "MU" on their helmets. Bowden allowed Lengyel and his assistants access to game film and playbooks to acquaint themselves with the veer offense, a variation of the option offense which aids teams with weak offensive lines after Lengyel discovers that the team is unable to run the Power I formation he favored. Lengyel credits Bowden with helping the Young Thundering Herd recover. Bowden reportedly became emotional while viewing the movie, and has said that he was the original candidate for the Rick Tolley coaching job.[4]
  • In the movie Bowden refers to a willingness to help Marshall since the Herd and WVU will not play each other "that season." In reality the two teams, although both in the NCAA University Division at the time, did not play each other at all. Their 1997 game was the first football matchup between the two schools in eighty years.
  • In the movie, a radio announcer calls Marshall's opponent the "Xavier Pirates." In real life, the school's nickname was, and still is, the Xavier Musketeers.
  • The game against Xavier actually ended on a last second play, although it wasn't the one shown in the film. Some argue, including the head coach at that time, Jack Lengyel, that the true life play used in 1971 was more dramatic. In that play, a screen pass back to the left after quarterback Reggie Oliver had drawn most of the defenders to the right on a rollout, fullback Terry Gardner caught the pass 13 yards short of the goal line and with no time left in the game ran the ball into the end zone, aided by a block from junior tackle Jack Crabtree, a member of the 1970 team not on the plane because of an injury. It was Marshall's first home game and win since the crash of the plane in 1970 killed the team and coaches. Because of its win over Xavier, which discontinued college football after the 1974 season, Marshall actually finished 1971 with a better record (2–8) than the Musketeers (1–9).
  • None of the cheerleaders were at the East Carolina game, as there was no room for them on the plane, and they did not drive to the game and back on their own as depicted in the film.
  • When Ruffin and the others leave the Keith Albee Theater and see the traffic, the traffic is headed the wrong way. The traffic would have been headed the OPPOSITE way, towards Ceredo, not Charleston.


  • In the end credits of the movie, clips are shown of some of the more prominent players in Marshall history, such as Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington, New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Byron Leftwich.
  • The real Red Dawson can be seen in the movie as the coach of Morehead State.
  • 1971 quarterback Dave Walsh can be seen in the movie as an assistant for Xavier.
  • The real Jack Lengyel had a cameo appearance in the movie. Another notable cameo was by Keith Morehouse, the current sports director for WSAZ-TV in Huntington and play-by-play announcer for Marshall broadcasts. He followed in the footsteps of his father Gene Morehouse, who was Marshall's play-by-play announcer when he was killed in the crash. Keith's future wife was one of the 18 children left orphaned by the crash.
  • Punter Bob Eshbaugh makes an uncredited cameo appearance on the Marshall sidelines during the game against Morehead State.
  • In the movie, the kicker that made the field goal before halftime of the Xavier game was played by former University of Georgia kicker Billy Bennett, who is also the all-time leading scorer in the SEC.
  • Survivor: Palau and Survivor: Guatemala castaway Bobby Jon Drinkard plays #4 in the film.
  • Sonny Perdue, Governor of Georgia, has a cameo role as an East Carolina assistant coach.
  • Dorsey Levens, a former Green Bay Packer running back, has a cameo as the Xavier head coach.


External links



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