With all the focus on the Heacock/Fickell defense of 2005, it is easy to forget who got OSU to this point. Coach Snyder is obviously headed to Huntington to lead the Thundering Herd, but he left a real nice mark on Ohio State football in his four years at the school.
My view of Coach Snyder is a real positive one. A few thoughts:
The players really liked and respected him. He had great energy and made playing defense fun. Nobody would ever accuse Coach Snyder of "just going through the motions." As I watched him on the sidelines, it always appeared he was born to coach football. He is a "football guy." Players can sniff out someone that is not a "football guy." The players played hard for someone that coached hard.
He was completely honest about his future. We all listen to talk radio and hear many coaches play mental games or hide things from the university, the public, the recruits, and the former players. I am sure they have reasons for doing some of that, but Coach Snyder made himself completely transparent. He allowed us to see right through him. Everyone knew he loved OSU. Everyone knew he loved his players. Everyone knew he loved Coach Tressel. At the same time, he was honest in his feelings about Marshall. Family, geography, and personal goals made the decision for him. I haven't seen the slightest sense of bitterness from anyone because he has been so honest about things.
His defense last year was young. At the 3-3 low point of the season, fans doubted anyone and everyone they could. Instead of pouting, Snyder rolled up his sleeves and turned things around. If his DB's were healthy against Purdue, I think the Buckeyes win that game. You give him Will Smith and Will Allen and Chris Gamble and some of those others; OSU wouldn't have been 3-3. His statistics would have been padded this year because of all the talent coming back on defense.
He accepted the Marshall job for the right reasons. Many coaches accept a position at a school so they can just climb the coaching ladder. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to make money and showing ambition to be the best, highest-ranking coach possible, it still hurts to have a coach leave your school to go to a better school. Thundering Herd (and MAC) fans, don't get me wrong. You can play in major bowl games and beat many BCS conference schools. In fact, I believe the Pennington/Moss era of Marshall football was completely underrated. They weren't Top 10 material -- they were Top 5 material. With all that said, Marshall doesn't pay the most. They don't have the biggest stadium. An undefeated season doesn't mean BCS bowl games all the time. Many coaches would take that job to springboard to the Florida State job or the LSU job. Coach Snyder could very take another job paying him $2,000,000 a year. But I am quite confident he would be a very satisfied and content man if he finished his coaching career at Marshall.
Many insiders in Huntington hoped to have someone internal get the position. Coach Pruett is a legend at that school. That makes Coach Snyder's move that much more impressive. I will be rooting for the Herd.