Marshall had good reason to give Snyder contract extension

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Somebody needs to explain how a coach who goes 4-7 can get a five-year contract extension.

Okay, I will.

When Marshall University president Stephen J. Kopp announced Friday that head football coach Mark Snyder’s contract was being extended through the 2013 season, no one even blinked. There wasn’t even an eyebrow raised.

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Kopp and athletic director Bob Marcum said they liked the direction the program was headed in the short 16 months Snyder has been on the job.

“I have tremendous confidence and respect for Mark Snyder,” Kopp said. “I admire his character and work ethic, not only as our head football coach, but also as a leader.”

Snyder has been a leader.

The public sees Snyder flash his big smile, willingly shake hands or pose for a picture. He jumps to the front of the line to help raise money for charitable causes. He knows how to work a room.

But don’t let that charm and charisma fool you. Snyder can be tough.

As quickly as he pats a player on the back for a job well done, he can also get in their face about anything from skipping class to needing an attitude adjustment.

Stories of the loose ship under Pruett’s tenure were wide spread around the city of Huntington.

That isn’t happening with Snyder. He has learned well from his mentors such as Jim Tressel, Glen Mason, Bob Lutz and Mike Burcham.

Players stay in the same dorm and an assistant coach is on duty. Unlike before, there is a curfew and it is enforced. Players have cars in the parking lot, but it’s tough to drive when their keys are in the coach’s office.

Snyder will have all his 85 scholarships next season. The time period for 16 lost scholarship due to NCAA violations under Pruett’s reign has ended.

Besides cleaning up the mess, so to speak, Snyder has to deal with coaching the team and recruiting.

Many people close to the program believe Snyder’s first recruiting class — this year’s freshmen — is one of he best the school has enjoyed in a long time.

On the field, Marshall may have been 4-7 last season in Conference USA despite losing 16 starters from a 6-6 team that was in the MAC, but several games could have swung the other way such as Kansas State and Southern Mississippi. With luck, Marshall could have been 6-5 and bowling.

So do what the Marshall officials plan to do: Be patient. School officials don’t usually throw around contract extensions after one year unless they have a pretty good reason.

Mark Snyder is a pretty good reason.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.