HUNTINGTON - The official song of the United States Military Academy is known as "The Army Goes Rolling Along."
In 2025, when the Army football team goes rolling along, it's first stop will be in Huntington.
Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Marshall and Army have entered into a home-and-home agreement for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.
Army will visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Aug. 30, 2025, while Marshall will return the trip to West Point, New York, on Oct 10, 2026.
"Since coming to Marshall, one of my goals in scheduling has been to get as many service academies on our schedule as possible," Hamrick said. "The other goal was to schedule Notre Dame. We were able to do that."
Tuesday's announcement means that Marshall has entered into home-and-home agreements with both East Coast-based service academies within the near future. Marshall will also travel to Navy in 2021 before the Midshipmen return the trip to open the 2023 season.
"Have we ever had Army or Navy come in and play? No," Hamrick said. "So that's something I wanted us to do. I wanted to have the service academies come here. How can you get better opening games for your season?"
Hamrick said that West Virginia's ties to the military make it an instant success, but the benefits of such a series go well-beyond just a Saturday in the college football season. It is exposure nation-wide - and even worldwide through the potential of the Armed Forces Network - that helps create big opportunities for Marshall University.
"There are a lot of considerations that go into it, but the military ties are phenomenal, and our TV people within our conference love us playing Army and Navy," Hamrick added. "Those are national games. CBS Sports Network and the NFL Network saw those games and thought that was great. There are Navy and Army alumni all over the world and they're loyal to them. It makes for a great series."
In a time where scheduling has become more difficult for many schools within the Group of 5, Hamrick has held steady to his scheduling philosophy, which does not put the Herd at a disadvantage with 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 series.
He pointed to recent 2-for-1 agreements between South Florida and Miami and another between Arkansas and Memphis as examples that some Group of 5 schools are willing to sacrifice for bigger names at their venue, but he will continue to pursue only home-and-home series for the foreseeable future.
"I've never done a 2-for-1," Hamrick said. "When you look back on it, there's Louisville, Pittsburgh, Boise State who is coming here next year, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Ohio and a four-game series with East Carolina, which opens in 2020 the 50th anniversary of the crash. Those all are even series.
"I've scheduled two games in which we just go there and don't get a return: South Carolina (canceled in 2018) and, in 2022, Notre Dame, which our people are going crazy over. The Notre Dame game was to play someone with unique history and tradition, plus the exposure that you get from a television standpoint."
In addition to those schools, there are also upcoming series with up-and-coming program Liberty and Western Michigan, which correlates with the 25-year reunion of Marshall's 1999 Mid-American Conference Championship team that topped the Broncos in an exciting 34-30 win.
There are also ongoing talks to continue the Ohio series in the near future, as well.
In looking at Marshall's immediate schedule, the 2019 campaign opens with FCS-member VMI, but then the Herd travels to annual Mountain West contender Boise State before hosting Ohio and Cincinnati in the non-conference portion.
Both Boise State (No. 23) and Cincinnati (No. 24) finished the 2018 season ranked in the Associated Press' Final Poll, while Ohio was 9-4 with a 27-0 win over San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl to its credit.
Hamrick said those games were aimed at helping position Marshall for a run at the Group of Five's New Year's Six bowl berth, should they have a special season.
"That's the philosophy behind some of this scheduling," Hamrick said. "This year, if you beat Boise, Cincinnati, Ohio, and take care of things in your conference, you've beaten the best Mountain West team, the best MAC team and arguably, the best in the American (Athletic Conference), which puts you in a great position.
"With two of those three games at home, I hope our fans respond to the scheduling by buying season tickets and attending our games. It's going to be exciting."