Early history (1895–1934)
Boyd Chambers, the coach who called the "Tower Play".
Boyd Chambers was Marshall's head football coach from 1909–1916. He is best known for calling the "Tower Play", where one receiver lifted another up on his shoulders to complete a pass, during the 1915 season.
Tolley era (1968–1970)
Rick Tolley was Marshall's head football coach for two seasons, coming to Marshall from his post as defensive line coach for and posting records of 3–7 and 3–6 before being killed on November 14, 1970 in the infamous plane crash in which all 75 passengers, including 37 players, five coaches, administrators, family and friends (along with the Southern Airways five-person crew) were killed traveling home from a game against .
Jim Donnan era (1990–1995)
Led by head coach Jim Donnan, who came to Marshall from his post as offensive coordinator at , Marshall won the Division I-AA national championship in 1992 over Youngstown State (31–28) and was national runner-up in 1991, 1993 and 1995. Marshall set an I-AA record with five straight seasons making at least the semi-finals of the I-AA Playoffs from 1991–95 (and added one more in 1996). Donnan was named NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year twice during his tenure at Marshall and resigned after the 1995 season to accept the head football coach position at .
Bob Pruett era (1996–2004)
Randy Moss, star wide receiver at Marshall under coach Bob Pruett
Bob Pruett left his post as defensive coordinator at under Steve Spurrier to become head football coach at Marshall, where he served for nine seasons from 1996 to 2004. During his tenure at Marshall, the Thundering Herd compiled a record of 94–23 (.803 winning percentage), featured two undefeated seasons, won six conference championships, won 5 of 7 bowl games, and captured the I-AA National Championship in 1996. Marshall moved to Division I-A and the Mid-American Conference in all sports in 1997. The 1996 team, with Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, , , Eric Kresser, and many other players who played professional football, was 15–0, had no game closer than a two touchdown win and was ranked No. 1 all-season. Marshall won the MAC title five of its eight seasons (1997-98-99-2000–2002) and were runners up in 2001 in the conference before moving to Conference USA in 2005. Since moving back to Division I-A, Marshall has finished in the Top 25 four times: 1999 (10th AP/10th coaches' poll), 2001 (21st coaches' poll), 2002 (24th AP/19th cocaches' poll), 2014 (23rd AP/22nd coaches' poll). Marshall fell to in the 1997 Motor City Bowl, 34–31, but won the next three games in Michigan's Pontiac Silverdome, beating 48–29 in 1998, beating No. 25 21–3 in 1999 to finish 13–0 and beating in 2000, 25–14. Marshall and East Carolina matched-up in one of college football's greatest bowl games in 2001 at the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, a 64–61 double overtime win by the Herd over the Pirates of Conference USA. It is one of the highest scoring bowl games of all-time, and the Herd rallied from a 38–8 halftime hole behind Byron Leftwich's five touchdown passes. Marshall would fall to the Bearcats in the 2004 Plains Capital Fort Worth Bowl at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium, 32–14, in Bob Pruett's final game as head coach before his retirement.
Mark Snyder era (2005–2009)
Marshall University vs. Cincinnati Bearcats 2008 (before game)
Mark Snyder came to his alma mater to become head football coach from his defensive coordinator position at . Snyder coached the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw, Marcus Fitzgerald and Cody Slate during his time as head coach at Marshall. Snyder's best season was a 6–6 2009 season, which turned out to be his last. He resigned after five seasons, that included only one bowl berth, the 2009 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
Doc Holliday era (2010–present)
On December 17, 2009, Marshall officially named , an assistant coach at WVU under , as the next head coach for the Thundering Herd football team. Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said Holliday had signed a five-year contract and would be paid $600,000 per season. Holliday, a WVU alum, almost defeated Stewart's Mountaineers in 2010, but an untimely fumble by freshman Tron Martinez led to the Herd blowing a 16-point lead in the games final minutes, breaking the hearts of Herd fans. Holliday then led Marshall to a 10–4 season in 2013, capped with a victory in the Military Bowl. In the 2014 season he led the team to a 13–1 season, winning the school's first C-USA Championship and the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl against 52–23.