TAMPA - University of South Florida head coach Skip Holtz added five assistants to his coaching staff on Monday, including two assistant coaches who have been a part of national championship staffs during the last decade and one with professional championships under his belt.
The new assistant coaches are Mark Snyder, Todd Fitch, Vernon Hargreaves, and Rick Smith. Coach Holtz has not announced official staff titles or duties at this date.
"I'm really excited to announce the addition of these five individuals to join the University of South Florida staff," said Holtz. "They bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, relationships and recruiting background that will serve this program well. When you look at the five, there's experience as head coaches, coordinators - offense and defense and special teams; they have all those titles that represent the Big Ten, the ACC, the Southeast Conference, the Big 12, NFL Europe - just a lot of experience that I am happy to have within the USF family."
Snyder is coming off a five-year run as the head coach at his alma mater Marshall. Prior to Marshall, Snyder was on Jim Tressel's staff at Ohio State from 2001-04, including the National Championship season of 2002. Snyder was the linebackers coach for his first three seasons at Ohio State, before serving as defensive coordinator in 2004. The Buckeyes also won the 2003 and 2004 Fiesta Bowls during his tenure in scarlet and gray.
"Mark Snyder has been a head coach the last five years in Conference USA," said Holtz. "Mark Snyder is a high-energy, emotional and passionate coach."
Fitch has been a member of Holtz's staff at East Carolina for the last three seasons. In his first season with the Pirates, the offensive unit broke a pair of school single-season records for most points (403) and touchdowns (52) scored that had previously stood for 28 years. Fitch and Holtz have worked together for 10-plus seasons, including stops at South Carolina and Connecticut. A veteran with over 21 years of coaching experience, Fitch has also worked under legendary head coaches Don Nehlen, Earle Bruce and Lou Holtz during his career which spans back to 1986 and included stops at alma mater Ohio Wesleyan, Bowling Green, West Virginia and Colorado State.
"Todd Fitch and I have a long-lasting relationship," said Holtz. "Todd has a great football mind. Todd and I have been together for five years at Connecticut, five years in Columbia and three years in Greenville. There's a lot of familiarity and comfort level with Coach Fitch and myself."
While Hargeaves is a native and graduate of BIG EAST-member Connecticut, his ties to Miami stand out on an impressive resume. Prior to spending three seasons with Holtz at ECU, Hargreaves was on the Miami Hurricanes staff for eight seasons (1998-2005). Hargreaves was the linebackers coach under Larry Coker when UM defeated Nebraska, 37-24, to capture the 2001 national title. While with the Hurricanes, he is credited with molding some of the nation's finest linebackers, including 2000 Butkus Award winner Dan Morgan and 2004 first-round draft choices Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams, as well as playing a key role in developing the UM defense into one of the nation's top units over a five-season span under head coaches Butch Davis and Larry Coker.
"Vernon Hargreaves brings a wealth of excitement, energy, enthusiasm to the program as well as an awful lot of experience as a linebacker coach, a defensive line coach and a special teams coordinator," said Holtz.
Vaas is leaving his post as offensive coordinator at Miami (Ohio) to join the Bulls staff. Vaas will have the opportunity redshirt-freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels into an elite level quarterback, much like he did with Brady Quinn during the 2005 and 2006 seasons at Notre Dame. The All-American Quinn won the Maxwell Trophy and Johnny Unitas Award in 2006, after throwing for 3,426 yards and 37 touchdowns that season. Vaas can also claim a couple professional championships during his head coaching tenure in NFL Europe. Vaas served six seasons as the head coach of the Berlin Thunder, during which time his teams won the 2001 and 2002 World Bowl championships.
"Peter Vaas and I coached together at Notre Dame," said Holtz. "Peter is a very intelligent individual who's been a head coach and has an awful lot of experience and brings a great football mind to what we're doing offensively."
For Smith, it is an opportunity to return home to Florida. Smith graduated from Florida State in 1971 and has extensive recruiting ties in the state. He just completed his fifth season on the ECU staff with Holtz, where the defensive united increased their interceptions from 15 in 2005, to 16 in 2006, 17 in 2007 and 22 in 2008. The nationally-respected defensive mind has worked in NFL Europe and at Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Cincinnati and Baylor.
"Rick, who has been a defensive coordinator for a number of years in his career, brings knowledge, stability in the back end, which is so important on defense, and is one of the best secondary coaches I have ever been around," said Holtz.
The five new assistants join Kevin Patrick, Larry Scott, Carl Franks and Phil McGeoghan, who were members of the USF staff during the 2009 season.
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