Still No Answer In Marshall Coaching Search

According to internet reports and insider sources, Marshall head coach Mark Snyder was hoping he has the two coaches to fill the open offensive and defensive coordinator positions on his staff. Former SMU head coach Phil Bennett was expected to give Snyder an answer by Tuesday on taking the defensive spot, but it appears that answer was no.

Phil Bennett, who spent six years as head coach of the Mustangs, has reportedly had offers from the NFL and other schools. Mark Snyder will now possibly turn to former Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter, who lost to the Herd in the 2000 Motor City Bowl when Bob Pruett was Marshall's head coach, or former Michigan assistants Steve Stripling and Steve Szabo, let go by new UM head coach Rich Rodriguez. Minter, who coached at UC from 1994-2003 and was 1-3 in bowls, was fired after the 2006 season as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, and spent 2007 with Cincinnati-based radio station as a college football analyst on AM-1530HOMER.

Stripling, one of five assistants to follow head coach John L. Smith from Louisville to Michigan State, worked as defensive line coach at Michigan State and Michigan. Stripling, a member of Louisville's coaching staff since 2001, helped develop two first-team All-Conference USA selections including Dewayne White (2001-02) and Michael Josiah (2001). Over the last two seasons, the Cardinals have recorded 77 sacks. Stripling came to Louisville following four seasons at Minnesota (1997-2000) where he served as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator under Glen Mason. In 1999, Minnesota ranked among the Big Ten leaders in passing defense (first at 179.4 yards), scoring defense (second at 16.3 points) and total defense (fourth at 319.9 yards). The Golden Gophers finished No. 22 nationally in total defense in 1999 while racking up a school-record 44 sacks. Prior to joining the Minnesota staff, Stripling spent 13 seasons under Bill Mallory at Indiana (1984-96) where he coached the offensive and defensive lines for six years each before taking over as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 1996. He also coached Indiana's place kickers.

Szabo is in his second season with the Michigan football program and 39th overall as a football coach. Szabo, hired as an assistant coach prior to the 2006 season, is responsible for the linebacker corps. Szabo has coached the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs at both the college and NFL levels. He coached in the Super Bowl (2003) and games where the national championship were on the line (Ohio State vs. USC, 1980 Rose Bowl). Szabo joined the U-M coaching staff in 2006 after spending 12 seasons in the National Football League. Szabo was the defensive backs coach with the Buffalo Bills during 2004 and 2005 seasons. Under his guidance, the Bills' defense increased its interception output by 14, posting 24 interceptions in 2004. Prior to his stint in Buffalo, Szabo worked with the New England Patriots (2003) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (1994-2002). In his nine years as Jacksonville's linebackers coach, the team became the most successful expansion team in NFL history. Before joining the professional ranks, Szabo was the defensive coordinator at Boston College for three seasons (1991-93), helping the Eagles improve from a 4-7 record in 1990 to 9-3 in 1993 combined with a No. 12 final national ranking. Szabo was head coach at Edinboro University for three seasons (1985-87) and was named Coach of the Year in the small college division of Western Pennsylvania by the Pittsburgh Press in 1986.

On the offensive side, Snyder is still waiting to hear from Mark Whipple. Whipple is the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback coach who took rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under his wing and helped the Steelers to the win in Super Bowl XL for the 2005 NFL championship. Whipple also coached UMass to the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship in 1998 and compiled a 49-25 record in six seasons with the Minutemen, where he worked for current Marshall Director of Athletics Bob Marcum. Whipple did not coach in the 2007 season after leaving the Steelers last January when new head coach Mike Tomlin hired Ken Anderson as his quarterbacks coach. Roethlisberger, the former opponent of the Herd at Miami, Ohio, suffered a sophomore slump with 23 interceptions in 2006.

Whipple has a record of rebuilding programs. Following his first season as UMass' head coach, Whipple received a number of awards. He was honored by the American Football Coaches Association as the GTE Division I-AA National Coach of the Year, while also receiving National Coach of the Year honors from Don Hansen's Football Gazette and finishing as the runner-up for the Eddie Robinson Award, presented by The Sports Network. In addition, Whipple was named the Scotty Whitelaw Division I-AA Coach of the Year by the New York Metropolitan Football Writers Association, earned AFCA / GTE Region I Coach of the Year honors, and was selected as the New England Division I Coach of the Year by both the New England Football Writers and the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston.

Whipple came to UMass following a four-year stint at his alma mater, Brown University. During his four years at Brown, Whipple compiled a 24-16 (.600) overall record without a losing season. His teams won more games in four years than the previous eight seasons at Brown combined. During his career at Brown, Whipple's teams were prolific on the offensive side of the ball. He also took New Haven to the Division II playoffs before moving to Brown, making the post-season in 1992 and 1993.

Whipple is expected to give an answer this week as well as Bennett, but Snyder has said he plans to have the positions filled by Feb. 6. That is national signing day, and the Herd had six recruits in this weekend. Visiting MU this past weekend were six high school players and one junior college standout, and all play on the defensive side of the ball. The cornerbacks include Louis Watson from St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala., Travis Cox from South Plantation H.S. in Plantation, Fla. (near Ft. Lauderdale), D.J. Thomas out of Hargrave Military Academy and juco Marcus Udell from the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California. Also coming to MU this past weekend was defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson, also out of Hargrave, and Cameron Jude, a defensive end who visited with his bother, Ryan, a player who has been at fullback, tight end, linebacker and defensive end. Marshall is also still trying to get a commitment from receiver O.J. Murdock, a former South Carolina player. He had not committed yet, despite published and internet reports. Another player reportedly committed to Marshall is receiver Jamal Wilson, but that also is not true at this time. Wilson is expected to be a prop at whatever Division I school he attends, but Marshall would like to get him in school in Huntington next fall.


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