"To avoid any speculation concerning our football program," Marcum said in the release, "Mark Snyder is and will remain our head football coach." Many web sites were speculating on Snyder's removal while rumors of buy-outs and straight out changes at the top were flying around Huntington and among some Herd fans.
Marcum elaborated on his statement on MetroNews' "Viewpoint," Monday morning on WRVC 930 AM, the Tri-State's ESPN station. Host Hoppy Kercheval asked the MU Director of Athletics about Snyder being retained, and Marcum shared he had recommended to Marshall President Dr. Stephen Kopp to retain Snyder. Snyder took over Marshall at the end of spring football in 2005, and signed his first recruiting class in February of 2006.
"Yes, I made a recommendation to President Kopp and he concurred with it," said Marcum of the recommendation to keep Snyder as head coach. "We put out the release (Sunday). Coach Snyder has done all the right things in a lot of areas and I do think that win-loss record is going to get better."
Kercheval asked Marcum about winning seasons at Marshall. "I think this is the third conference we have been in in 11-or-12 years, and Conference USA was different from the MAC," said Marcum. "Having said that, I think there is a lot of college football that is upside down. When we were playing in the MAC, who would have ever thought Ball State and Buffalo would be the premier teams playing for the championship in the MAC." Marshall was a member of the Southern Conference from 1977-97 (a I-AA league since 1983) and a member of the Mid-American Conference from 1997-2005 before joining C-USA prior to Snyder's first season.
"As you look around, whether its the Big Ten or other conferences, the game is a little upside down. I've looked at our competition around Conference USA and I've said our coaches are out-coaching their resources," said Marcum. "We're close in a lot of ball games; our out-of-conference games were a little tougher than some other people. By the time you get to the conference, yeah, I believe with a turn or two, we should have won a couple of more ball games. If we got a good call against UAB, where Passmore rolled into the end zone, we win that game."
Marcum also talked about the other areas, about how players are interacting with the community and how they are doing in the classroom as points on Snyder's side. "I think Coach has done a lot of good things with our academics, with our general demeanor on, and off, the field. I believe those wins are coming in those close games this year. We lost by three points to the East champions and by three points to the West champion." Tulsa beat MU on Saturday, 38-35, and MU lost at East Carolina, 19-16 in overtime.
"I think West Virginia is better than we are right now. I think Wisconsin is better than we are right now," said Marcum of out-of-conference games. "It doesn't mean we can't compete, but BCS teams are tough to compete against." In fact, the league was 2-21 against BCS teams, and both were by ECU, over WVU and Virginia Tech. "I just feel coach is very, very close, and we take a look at that every day," said Marcum. C-USA was only 11-30 against outside major college foes this season, and MU contributed three of those loses to the BCS teams: Wisconsin, WVU and Cincinnati, who won the Big East with a 10-2 mark.
Marcum understands the fan's frustration with a mark of just 4-8 this season, 16-31 over four years and 30-41 since 2003, with a bad loss to the Bearcats of UC in the only bowl game in 2004. The program had a run of bowls from 1997-2002, and the Herd won five bowls in a row, had a 13-0 season in 1999, were ranked 10th in the nation and had back-to-back NFL first-round drafted quarterbacks for those runs, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. Stan Hill took over for a 8-4 mark in '03, for head coach Bob Pruett (1996-2004), and a 6-6 final mark after losing in the PlainsCapital Ft. Worth Bowl in 2004.
"When you say fans want to win, you're exactly right," Marcum told Kercheval. "And that is the bottom line. But at the same time, Hoppy, there are a lot of things that go into it besides winning (games)." Kercheval asked Marcum what would happen if Snyder did not have a winning season next season.
"I don't get into those projections, and that far in advance. You'll notice I didn't say anything during the season or until the final game was over," said Marcum. "Dr. Kopp and I spoke last week and got together after the game on Sunday. I don't get into benchmarks or six wins, seven wins, or nine wins or whatever it is. Based on our performance this year, and three games I thought could have gone either way with it, I would expect our football team will be in post-season next year. I really believe if someone asked me, I would say we'll be in post-season next year."
When asked if that was a condition of keeping the job or not at Marshall, Marcum was "You know, do we require six wins, seven wins, whatever...no, it's not a requirement. I don't think we approach with requirements, but we sit down with the coach and go over the expectation level and see where he thinks our program is. What can change expectation level; an injury here or there, or a transfer from here or there. Let's look at it. We have 15 starters coming back, and I think that looks really good. And this year will be the first time since Snyder has been here that we will have a senior class of more than 20 people. I know there are a lot of good sophomore or freshmen who play the game. But the same time, we have not had much of a senior class as far as numbers. What we have, they will all graduate this year. We feel very good about all 14 graduating, but most football teams have a senior class with significant numbers and experience."
Marcum also touched the probation Snyder inherited from the Pruett years that took away scholarships and did not allow the signing of props for a few years. "I know people don't want to hear it, but when you go on probation it's not just that year you go on probation and losing the scholarships, it's the loss of scholarships leading up to the probation where you suffer even more. It hurts your recruiting before it starts and when you get penalized (it hurts again).
"Snyder arrived with one day of spring practice left. I think he was handed a short stick to begin with, but his attitude has been good. If you're playing at the end of the season and you are 4-7, a lot of players go in the tank...but our players went out there and played hard." Marshall lost to Tulsa in the final game by just three last Saturday to end the season. It was only the second loss on Senior Day in the last 11 final home games at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
"We're certainly behind Coach Snyder. We expect now (to have) more wins because we've got more seniors, he's bringing in his fourth recruiting class. Our red-shirt freshman quarterback is going to be a year older. He's got the program to the place where when the wins come, everyone will be back on board," said Marcum to close the interview. (See WVMetroNews.com for this interview with Bob Marcum from Monday, Dec. 1).