Snyder puts Marshall up for sale

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 20, 2005

Marshall University hired Mark Snyder as its head football coach because he sold himself to them. Now, he's got to play salesman for the school's football program.

Beyond the Xs and Os, Snyder is finding life as a college head coach to be busy and demanding.

"Promotions and sales is part of the job of being a head coach. That's been the newest part of the job for me," Snyder said. "I had to do some of this (as an assistant), but not on an everyday basis like I am now. I have a new appreciation for head coaches."

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Snyder spent part of his Saturday promoting and selling Marshall to the public by signing autographs at Clark's BP Pump-N-Shop on Park Avenue in Ironton.

The former Ironton All-Ohio quarterback and All-American safety at Marshall has been on a hectic pace since day one. He arrived at Marshall with only two days remaining in spring practice, so he has had to use a cram course the past two months getting to know the players and letting the players get to know him.

Players are currently going through weightlifting and running workouts. Practices won't start until Aug. 3.

"I'm getting along great with them. The excitement is high and I think they're really excited. I think they're buying in and I think things are going great," Snyder said.

With only two days of practice, Snyder was unable to institute any kind of offense or defense of his choice. However, he said that really hasn't been a problem.

"We try to keep it very similar to what they had. I want it to be so that I had to learn, not the kids. I kept Larry Kueck (offensive coordinator) and kept Jimmy Collins (defensive coordinator) and (newly hired) Todd Gobel knows what I want special teams-wise, so there won't be a whole lot of change for the kids. The change will be for the coaches.

"The coaches are teaching the new coaches what the kids already know."

Snyder said he will be a hands-on coach, but he's not sure to what extent until the first game.

"This is going to be new for me. I won't know that until the whistle blows," Snyder said. "But I'm a micro-manager. I'm going to be very involved. I going to try to help the special teams

and stay out of the offensive and defensive scope of things as much as I can and interject my thoughts as the game goes on."

The late hiring due to the unexpected retirement of former head coach Bob Pruett forced Snyder to keep a lot of the previous staff. Snyder said not only was retaining previous staff members no problem, they were a welcomed commodity.

"I feel very good about my staff. The good thing is I knew a some of the guys through the profession, and Bob (Pruett) had put a great staff together. So I felt very comfortable with they guys I kept. I would have hired them regardless. So, I think that part is in place," Snyder said.

Marshall will begin the season with a new coach and a new league. The Herd is jumping from the Mid-American Conference to Conference-USA this season.

Not only is Snyder in the dark regarding the abilities of his players, he said he knows very little about C-USA.

"Going into Conference USA and going home is what made this job attractive. I don't know much about them other than Thursday night games," Snyder said of watching the league on ESPN.

Snyder said he doesn't have a set idea regarding what kind of offense or defense he intends to use this season, preferring to keep his options open.

"One thing I learned, whatever your kids can do, that's what you need to do. The object is to win. If that means opening it up, that's what we're going to do. If that means blitz, that's what we're going to do. We're going to do what our kids can do," Snyder said.

Thanks to the governor of West Virginia, Marshall will have a mandatory rivalry series with West Virginia. The two teams met only once with WVU winning 31-28. Snyder said West Virginia should have an intrastate rivalry like other states.

"I think it's going to bring in revenue. I think it's going to put the spotlight on the state of West Virginia for one Saturday," Snyder said.

"The neat thing is most of these intrastate games happen in November. The Iowa-Iowa State, Kansas-Kansas State, now Marshall-West Virginia will happen early in the season. I know as a fan, after our games are over, that's the game I go home and I watch, the intrastate game, because of the excitement it generates. I think it's awesome."