It was November 1970 when most of the entire football team for Marshall University died in a horrific plane crash. The Thundering Herd as they are called for a time ceased to exist. The town of Huntington, West Virginia was devastated. Some were saying that there should no longer be a football team. Some were saying that they had to continue on. It wasn't until Nate Ruffin (Anthony Mackie) a freshman who was ill and missed the flight spoke out at a meeting and was able to sway those needed to continue the football program.
It was up to President Dedmon to find a new coach for the team. This wouldn't be an easy task as you literally were starting from scratch. A decision was made to offer the job to Coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey). Coach was a family man and believed in the Lombardi creed that winning is the only thing. This team would need this type of mentality if they were going to succeed. Coach would eventually hire Red Dawson to be his assistant coach.
They had no players and NCAA rules wouldn't allow freshman to play. Coach would have to talk the NCAA into allowing his freshman and any new members of the team to play. The NCAA said they would allow it under the conditions that Marshall were facing. Marshall wanted to be playing the following fall and this would turn into a superhuman trick.
The town was still feeling the wounds. The players would take it day by day. The school would have to overcome all of it's sadness to be able to just walk into the stadium the following year. The team loses it's first game but it's up to you to see how this all turns out.
I just can't give away the ending to this. You see whether this team wins any games in that first year back doesn't really matter. Just the fact that they could even field a team that soon was a miracle.
Director McG does an incredible job with this movie. The cast is solid and the story is nothing but heartwarming and I dare you to walk away from this film without a tear in your eye. For this team to even want to continue is an accomplishment. For this University to stand behind this team is a monumental task. For this city, to be able to overcome such a devastating tragedy is a miracle. So watch one of the greatest sport stories ever told, for this is truly love for the game beyond any other.