Snow Days - Part one

Dawgman.com caught up with Phil Snow, newly hired by Washington Head Coach Rick Neuheisel, to take over the responsibilities vacated by Bobby Hauck's departure to Montana. In addition to his duties as a defensive back coach, Snow will also be the co-Defensive Coordinator along with current DC Tim Hundley. In the first part of this two-part report, we get to know Snow, his career to this point and the events that led to his hiring.

Snow attended Sacramento City College and Cal State Hayward, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Physical Education in 1978. He began his coaching career at the high school level with positions at Berkeley High in 1976 and Winters High in 1977-78, where he grew up. He also spent three years at Laney College in Oakland, California, where he was the secondary coach in 1979 and the co-defensive coordinator in 1980 and 1981.

Jim Criner gave Phil his first big coaching break, bringing him up to Boise State in 1982. The very next year he moved up to serve as defensive coordinator for the Broncos and held that job through the 1986 season. Starting in 1984, Snow served as assistant to the head coach in addition to his duties as defensive coordinator.

From 1987 on, Snow has called the Pac-10 his home. His first stop? Back to Berkeley, Califorina, where he coached under Bruce Snyder at Cal for 5 years as secondary coach. He was part of the Golden Bears' 1991 staff that took Washington to the brink during their national championship run.

Snow followed Snyder when the Cal Head Coach accepted the same position at Arizona State, and Phil stayed there from 1992 to 2000, earning the role as defensive coordinator starting in 1994. When Snyder was let go after the 2000 season, Snow was picked up by Bob Toledo and the UCLA Bruins to be their secondary coach and defensive coordinator.

And as it always happens on the coaching carousel, Snow was again looking for work when Toledo was fired after a disappointing 2002 season. He had the opportunity to keep his job under new Bruin Head Coach Karl Dorrell, but knew that he needed a new start, a fresh beginning.

"I coached with Karl Dorrell at Arizona State for a year, but I really had no interest in staying at UCLA. It was my time to leave so I didn't try to initiate anything with Coach Dorrell," Snow told Dawgman.com. It just so happened that, at the same time Phil was looking for a new opportunity to arise, there was another Pac-10 team suddenly thrown into the position of finding a new coach for their secondary.

"With Washington, they called and told me that Bobby (Hauck) might be leaving, so would I be interested, and I told them yes and to let me know if something came up," said Snow. "Both Coach (Tim) Hundley and Coach Neuheisel called me. When Bobby left, Rick called me and we talked for about 3 or 4 days and got everything settled and I became a Husky.

"I've known Rick a long time and we've coached and competed against each other, but I've never worked for him. The only guy on the staff that I've worked with is Cornell Jackson. He was a running backs coach at Arizona State. But everybody else I've just coached against, like Keith Gilbertson - we go all the way back to when he was at Idaho and I was at Boise State. And this last season was my 16th year in the Pac-10, so I know all the guys but really have not coached with many of them."

Coaching the secondary will be the easy job for Snow; the co-defensive coordinator role will be a new challenge, one he plans to tackle with enthusiasm. "It is a new situation for me," he said. "You don't see it around all that much. I know Oklahoma is doing it, so it will be interesting. I know Tim. When I was at Arizona State, we lost a linebacker coach and I tried to get Coach Hundley to come. He was at Colorado at the time. I think it will be interesting and fun."

There's no question the next Husky defense will be a blend of many ideas, some already in place and some brought along by Snow with the idea of shoring up deficiencies. "Well, I know the defensive coaches up there and I have an idea of the personnel and I just hope that I can bring some things," he said. "You know, I'm sure that there are some things that they do better than we do and there are some things that we do better than they do, so if we can piece it all together I think we'll have a pretty good idea of what we want to do and be effective doing it.

"If you're real confident about who you are and what you do, you can go into a situation that I'm about to go into. I think it's going to be an easy adjustment because I respect all the guys there football-wise. We'll sit in a room and share ideas and we'll come up with the best way to do it for the program. I'm sure Coach Hundley knows me and knows the work that I've done, so I don't think there will be any problems."

Phil expects his transition time to be shortened because of his familiarity with the Washington program. "I think it's easier because I've followed the Huskies," he said. "For years, we've always talked that you can't win the Pac-10 championship unless you beat the Huskies. If you beat them, you have a chance. I've always followed the program and what they've been able to do and the type of players they get and the support they get. I think it's going to be an easy adjustment."

The marriage of Snow and Washington appears to be a good one from his perspective. "I want to be somewhere where football is really important, with the players and the community," he said. "And for the Huskies, throughout the years, football has been very important for everybody involved - the players, the fans and the community. So that was number one. The other is, I like to play a tough brand of defense where the players love to play and hit and get after it. And the Huskies have always done that in the years that I've been in the conference."

So now the real work begins, including moving his wife Deb and family to Seattle and getting them settled. "I'll be up there on the 9th of this month," said Snow. "There are some guys coming in that weekend, so I'll get into the flow of that recruiting-wise. And there are some names I'll get working on, as far as the defensive side. Thursday I'll start working. We'll move the kids (Phillip, 14 and Jacob, 10) as soon as we can and get them into a school system. We already have an offer on our house, so we'll get it sold and move up to Seattle as soon as we can."

Part two will focus on Snow's coaching and recruiting philosophies.

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