"I looked first for people who would fit what we want to do at Marshall and in doing that also found men who have had great success in coaching and winning at whatever they've done," said Snyder in the release from Marshall Sports Information on Friday. "Winning breeds winning, and when you look at this staff what jumps out is that they've been a part of 17 national championships among them, not to mention dozens of conference championships. These coaches know how to get a team prepared to go where we plan to take Marshall football. Call me biased, but I think we have the best staff in the country."
Mark Gale will move to the newly created position of Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations. Gale had been on the field as an assistant coach at Marshall since 1990, most recently as team's associate head coach and linebackers coach. Marshall has a record of 158-44 in Gale's time with the program, making him the winningest assistant coach in school history. The 1981 Oklahoma State University graduate has been coaching in the college ranks since 1984 and was an assistant on Oklahoma's 1985 National hampionship team. Coach Snyder on Mark Gale: "We've created the new position of Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations, and I'm excited that Mark Gale will be the man in this role. As I looked at Mark Snyder's strengths and weaknesses, my weaknesses were Mark Gale's strengths and he's exactly what I need to help run the business of Marshall football. He's done a fantastic job in 15 years here and everyone I've talked to, both on and off campus, think the world of him. Mark has earned this promotion."
Larry Kueck will remain as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The 1975 Stephen F. Austin graduate ran Marshall's spring practice as the school's interim head coach following Bob Pruett's retirement and enters his fifth year on the Marshall staff (1996 and 2002-2005). Coach Snyder on Larry Kueck: "Having coached head-to-head against Larry Kueck, it was a no-brainer to have him as our offensive coordinator. Had Larry been off at another school I'd have tried to hire him anyway. I'm excited that he'll be on my side of the field instead of the opponent's sideline now."
Jim Collins will add the title of defensive coordinator while continuing to coach the Marshall secondary. A graduate of Elon University, Collins joined the Herd in 2004 after two years on the Washington Redskins staff and had spent the previous twelve seasons at the University of Florida. Coach Snyder on Jim Collins: "Jim brings a ton of experience, including many bowl victories, to the table. His time in the NFL, coaching at the game's highest level, brings instant credibility. He's spent several years as a recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator as well as defensive coordinator and brings an incredible amount of knowledge and track record of proven success to our staff."
George Darlington will remain on the Marshall staff and serve as the team's recruiting coordinator/safeties coach. The Charleston, W.Va., native is a 43-year coaching veteran who has been at Marshall since 2003 after spending 30 years as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska. The 1961 Rutgers graduate was the first assistant coach in NCAA history to help one team to more than 300 wins. Coach Snyder on George Darlington: "Coach Darlington has a world of experience and has played in many big, big football games, and has a lot of jewelry – including national championships – to show for it. Winning breeds winning and it's important to have that on our staff."
Mike Cummings has the distinction of having been hired to coach the Marshall offensive line by two head coaches before ever coaching his first game for the university. The 1984 Buffalo graduate joined the Herd staff in February after spending the previous three seasons as offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Western Michigan University. Coach Snyder on Mike Cummings: "I did a lot of research on Mike Cummings, who had just been hired by Coach Pruett. Everybody I talked to said he's an energetic, great recruiter and a tremendous football coach. I'm excited to have him on our staff."
Shannon Morrison returns to Marshall as the linebackers coach. The four-time (1991-94) letterwinner in Marshall's secondary was an all-Southern Conference and honorable mention all-America selection in 1994 and is still sixth on the school's all-time interceptions list with 11. Morrison, who served as a graduate assistant coach at Marshall following his graduation (1995), spent last season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Lehigh after three seasons as defensive coordinator at Southeast Missouri State University. Coach Snyder on Shannon Morrison: "Shannon Morrison played for Mark Gale and now takes over Mark's coaching position on the field. I think it's important to bring back people who did great things here at Marshall. He's a native West Virginian who went out and made a name for himself as a young coach on the rise and we're excited to bring him back."
Todd Goebbel joins the Marshall staff as coach of special teams and wide receivers. The former Kent State University and Northern Iowa University quarterback comes to Marshall after spending last season as the defensive quality control coach at The Ohio State University. He had previously coached at the College of Wooster, Tiffin University and Quincy University, where he was the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 2002 and 2003. Coach Snyder on Todd Goebbel: "Todd Goebbel has coaching bloodlines. His father is a successful high school coach in Ohio and after Todd's playing days he went right out and earned his coaching stripes. When we were hiring a quality control coach last season at Ohio State, after interviewing six or seven people it was evident to me that Todd Goebbel was far and away the best candidate. He brings tremendous special teams knowledge to the program and special teams are going to be very, very important here."
Shaine Miles will continue as Marshall's tight ends coach, a position he has held since 2003. Following his playing career as a tight end at Virginia Tech, Miles served as a graduate assistant at Marshall before spending the 2002 season as an assistant coach at the United States Naval Academy. Coach Snyder on Shaine Miles: "Shaine is a guy who just impressed me through the evaluation process after I got here. The coaches I've talked to say he's a rising star in this business. His recruiting efforts have been very impressive. I'm excited to have him on staff."
Jared Smith joins the Marshall staff as the team's running backs coach. Smith comes to Marshall after serving as Ohio State's offensive quality control coach last season. After starting for four years at Kansas, the 1996 Jayhawk graduate was a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota in 1998-99 before being promoted to the Gophers' full-time coaching staff, where he tutored the guards and centers. From there he moved to Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College for three seasons, serving as the running game coordinator in 2003. Coach Snyder on Jared Smith: "I've known Jared for quite a while – he was on our staff at the University of Minnesota after he played at the University of Kansas. He coached on the offensive line while I was coaching on the defensive line and he really impressed me. He went on to coach in the junior college ranks and we jumped at the opportunity to bring him on staff at Ohio State and again now at Marshall. Jared is a great addition as running backs coach."
Jim Pittman will serve as Marshall's offensive graduate assistant coach. The 2001 LSU graduate played football at Navarro Junior College (Corsicana, Texas) and returned to Navarro to tutor the quarterbacks and running backs in 2002-03 before spending last season as a graduate assistant at Texas Christian University. Coach Snyder on Jim Pittman: "Jim is another guy who has the coaching bloodlines – his grandfather was at one time the head coach at Texas Christian. That sort of background can give guys a head start and some good insight into the coaching business and we're glad to bring Jim to Marshall."
Curtis Head will be back for a second season as Marshall's defensive graduate assistant coach. The two-time all-MAC punter played on four Marshall teams that won bowl games from 1999-2002 and also scored 181 points when he added place-kicking to his resume as a junior and senior. He played one season for the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League before returning to Marshall. Coach Snyder on Curtis Head: "Just as with Shannon Morrison, Curtis Head is another former Herd standout and knows the University and the community...and the Marshall fans know him. Just as with George Darlington and others, Curtis has been a winner. He has four championship rings as a Marshall player. That's the kind of person we like having on staff."
Mike Cochran becomes Marshall's head strength and conditioning coach. The 1992 Youngstown State graduate spent three years as an assistant coach working with the YSU defense before moving over to the school's strength and conditioning program, where he was the head strength coach for five years before moving to Ohio State's staff. He spent the last four seasons with the Buckeyes. Coach Snyder on Mike Cochran: "I've known Mike for 15 years and worked with him much of that time. For several years he has been courted to become the head strength and conditioning coach by many Division I-A universities, but he has been very selective and waiting for the perfect opportunity. All of our NFL players at Ohio State came back to Columbus to work out with Mike in the off-season – that's the kind of respect they have for him and his ability to help make them successful."
Snyder's final hire came the last week of April, when he added defensive line coach Thielen (THI-len) Smith. Smith has coached rovers and whip linebackers at Clemson University since 1999. He is married and has six children.
Marshall will head into 2005 and Conference USA for Coach Mark Snyder's first season at the helm of his alma mater. He is the first back-to-back alumnus (Class of 1988) to be hired at Marshall, following Bob Pruett (Class of 1965) since Charlie Snyder (no relation, Class of 1949) replaced Herb Royer (Class of 1938) in 1959. Coaches and staff not returning for 2005 include former head coach Bob Pruett, who retired with a Marshall best record all-time of 94 wins and only 23 losses, including five Mid-American Conference titles, a Southern Conference title, five bowl wins in seven tries and a I-AA National Championship in 1996 in his first season at the helm. Other coaches not returning include former running backs coach Ernie Purnsley; receivers coach Dwayne Nunez; strength coach Mike Jenkins; defensive line/coordinator Bill Wilt; and football operations director Brian Coutras. Marshall will open the season September 1, 2005, at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium with I-AA semi-finalist William & Mary.