In his playing days,Mark Snyderwas an All-Southern Conference safety who was named honorable mention All-American by Don Hansen's Football Magazine. He was also on the 1987 Herd team that shocked Louisville at Cardinal Stadium, then made it to the I-AA National Championship game in Pocatello, Idaho. Marshall fell 43-42 to Northeast Louisiana in that game, but Snyder had a record setting season with 10 interceptions, still a MU and Southern Conference record.
"When we played for the national championship in 1987," said Snyder, "we could only dream of the heights to which (former MU head coaches) Jim Donnan and Bob Pruett would take the program. I have always been proud to have been a part of Marshall's resurgence in football and now I am honored to have a chance to return to my alma mater and lead Marshall into a new era."
Snyder smiled and said it was good to be back home at the announcement of his hiring as Marshall's head football coach on Thursday.
Marshall will leave the eight year affliation with the Mid-American Conference and join the new Conference USA next season. "This is an exciting time for the Thundering Herd family as we move into Conference USA and our football team will not only represent, but serve the University and the Tri-State area well on and off the field. Our goal is to be the class of college football," said Snyder in prepared remarks distributed by the Marshall Sports Information Department.
A crowded Big Green room at Joan C. Edwards Stadium was the site of Snyder's press conference.
At the press conference, Snyder was more specific about goals for his team and staff, who he had met with for the first time Thursday morning, prior to the press conference. "The product we put on and off the field. We want you to be proud of us and we need the fans to be the "12th Man" for us." Snyder praised former MU head coaches, beginning with Sonny Randle (1979-1983), Stan Parrish (1984-1985), his head coach George Chaump (1986-1989), Jim Donnan (1990-1995) and recently retired head coach Bob Pruett (1996-2004) for laying the building blocks for the success Marshall has had and the success Snyder wants to continue.
"We want to win the nati...win the conference championship," said the former Ohio State defensive coordinator, who did win national championships with Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel at both Ohio State as well as three times in I-AA with Youngstown State. "We want to play in a BCS (Bowl Championship Series) bowl and we want to graduate all our players," Snyder said emphatically. "It's great to be home. The trip down Route 23 (from Columbus, Ohio) was really special this time. It feels so good to be home."
All eyes, cameras, and recorders were on MU coach Mark Snyder.
Bob Marcum, who compared the crowd and electricity in the Big Green room to "opening day at Camden Park" in his opening remarks, had this to say about Snyder. "I am pleased that Mark has decided to return to his alma mater and lead our football team into a new era. He brings a great deal of experience, enthusiasm and a proven record of success at the highest levels of college football with him."
Snyder will receive a five-year contract that pays him a base salary of $144,200 a year, plus additional promotional compensation of about $135,000 and an incentive package of about $197,000 that could bring the total to around $478,000 per year. Snyder also received a $50,000 "welcome bonus" from the Thunder Club, an organization of boosters who pay $2,000 per year for membership.
"I'm going to have to count on my assistant coaches who are here, get some feedback from them," said Marshall coach Mark Snyder. Snyder takes over the program just one day from the end of spring drills.
"I would have never dreamed at Fairfield Stadium in 1987 that (the Marshall program) would have come as far as it has," said Snyder during questions from the media. "A lot of credit goes to Jim Donnan and Bob Pruett for where the program is now. What a beautiful venue, what a beautiful setting for football."
Snyder addressed taking over the program at the end of spring ball, with only three months to get ready for the 2005 season. "I'm going to have to count on my assistant coaches who are here, get some feedback from them. We cancelled practice on Wednesday, and cannot go into next week because we are at our 29 day limit (per NCAA rules), so I will be here and run practice Friday. Then, the assistants will run the spring game on Saturday while I observe."
Snyder also addressed the current assistants at Marshall, including quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Larry Kueck–who was interim head coach this spring. "We are going to be in the midst of an evaluation period. I'm going to come in and evaluate them. I will have a chance to observe them tomorrow and at the spring game. Obviously, the timing is not good, but I will do what's best for Marshall University," coach Snyder said. When pressed regarding who might or might not stay, Snyder gave this answer regarding keeping the current staff. "The least amount of change would be good. Does that mean anything? No, it does not because we will be in an evaluation period with the staff. I will do what I see fit for Marshall University."
What can Herd fans expect from a Snyder-coached football team? "Basically, here is who Mark Snyder is...I am about loyalty and enthusiasm. Those are the things I bring to the table," coach Snyder added. "I hope you see an excited football team out there, a well-coached football team out there, playing with a lot of enthusiasm. I think that's contagious. I think we will play to that 12th Man I talked about. We will do our part on the field and we need to make sure we do it off the field, also. Marshall came up (last season) and almost beat our butts," said Snyder, pausing to add, "We almost beat our butt...how do I say that? (Marshall was) a very well coached football team and gave us all they/we had and I shared that with those young men this morning. To go to a place, with a hostile environment and almost beat (Ohio State), that's the expectations we need to have as we go into a new conference that will be a little better than the MAC, guys. There was a twinkle in (the team's) eye this morning and I think they are ready for the challenge." Marshall lost to the Buckeyes on a last-second, 55-yard field goal in a 24-21 game at Ohio Stadium.
Snyder will coach the Herd in its 7:00 a.m. Friday practice. The Spring Green-White game is Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Edwards Stadium and admission is $5 per person. WRVC 930 AM will broadcast the game and Snyder will join Robert Harper and the WRVC sports team on the air during the game.