Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has promoted linebacker coach Mark Snyder to defensive coordinator. Tressel made the announcement today.
Snyder, now in his third season with the Buckeyes, replaces Mark Dantonio who recently was named head coach at the University of Cincinnati.
"I am humbled by this opportunity and by the confidence that Coach Tressel has shown in me," said Snyder, a native of Ironton, Ohio and a 1988 graduate of Marshall, where he played defensive back. "We started 2004 off on a good note in the Fiesta Bowl. What we have to do now is sit down and evaluate everything in an effort to get better in all that we do. We have lost some great football players, so our young guys are going to need to step up. You always make some subtle changes, but I don't see us making any wholesale changes in terms of our philosophy."
In addition to elevating Snyder, Tressel said Mel Tucker will serve as co-defensive coordinator while continuing to coach the Buckeyes' secondary. Additionally, Luke Fickell will take over as linebackers coach and veteran Jim Heacock will now be responsible for coaching the entire defensive front.
"I really enjoy coaching the defensive backs, but I am excited about the opportunity to have an increased role in our defense," said the Cleveland-born Tucker, who is in his third year with the Buckeyes and has helped develop All-American safeties Mike Doss and Will Allen.
Fickell, a four-year letterman for the Buckeyes at nose guard between 1992 and 1996 and a Columbus native, has been special teams coordinator since joining the Ohio State staff prior to the 2002 season. He also worked with the Buckeyes' defensive tackles the past two years.
"I am looking forward to the challenge of working with the linebackers," he said. "I know I don't have a lot of experience at that position, so I am going to have to lean on Mark (Snyder) in the early going."
Heacock is in his eighth year at Ohio State and is recognized as one of the top defensive line coaches in college football. He has developed a number of outstanding players, including Ryan Pickett and Kenny Peterson and 2003 seniors Will Smith, Tim Anderson and Darrion Scott.
"We have lost a fine defensive coordinator in Mark Dantonio, but I don't think this staff will miss a beat," said Heacock, who grew up in Alliance, Ohio and attended Muskingum College. "I know we are all anxious to get started and get ready for what lies ahead."
"I have a tremendous amount of confidence and respect for these four men," said Tressel. "When Mark Dantonio left, I knew that I didn't need to look any further than the walls of our defensive staff room to come up with the talent necessary to meet the challenge of 2004 and beyond."
Tressel must still replace Dantonio to get the staff up to full strength.
"I would like to do that by the end of the month if possible," he said.