Thundering Into Town

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being back home in Ironton wasn’t much different from being at work in Huntington, W.Va., for Marshall head football coach Mark Snyder.

The former All-Ohio quarterback and defensive back who led Ironton to a state runner-up in 1982 was at Central Christian Church as he spoke to a crowd across the street from his high school football stage of Tanks Memorial Stadium.

“It’s great to be back here. The fans are with you, win or tie. That’s the way it is in Ironton and at Marshall and that’s the way I want it,” said Snyder.

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“Football is special here just like it is at Marshall. This is awesome to back here.”

The Big Green Foundation made a coaches’ tour stop “Under the Tent” at Central Christian Church on Tuesday in an effort to promote Thundering Herd athletics and generate financial support for athletic scholarships.

A prior commitment prevented women’s basketball coach Royce Chadwick from attending and a lingering illness kept men’s basketball coach Donnie Jones off the tour.

But Snyder made sure his final duty before going on vacation was a stop back where his football career started.

And Snyder was optimistic about the Herd’s chances this season as he begins his fifth season but the first year with every team member one of his recruits.

“We’ve had quite a challenge we have had to overcome, but things are back in place,” said Snyder. “I came back (home) and took on the challenge and I think we’re back where we need to be to win.”

Snyder came in as spring ball ended in his first year after the untimely retirement of Bob Pruett. Marshall also entered a tougher league his first year as the Herd began play in Conference USA.

He also inherited a team that not only lost 16 of 22 starters but was also facing a four-year probation that costs the program 16 scholarships.

Snyder said the attitude and work ethic has been elevated.

“I’m not allowed to be at the (weight room) workouts, but the conditioning coaches said it’s been the best we’ve ever had,” said Snyder.

John Sutherland, the executive director of the Big Green Foundation, noted Snyder’s success at every coaching stop that includes a national championship at Ohio State and at Youngstown State.

“Coach Snyder has been successful everywhere he’s been. He won a national championship at Youngstown State,” said Sutherland only to be interrupted by Snyder.

“Three. Three national championships,” said Snyder as the crowd laughed.

Snyder then made a plea to the local fans.

“I know there are a lot of Ohio State fans here, but I need you fans to come across the (Ohio) river, too. We need your support,” said Snyder.

Anyone interested in joining the Big Green may do so by contacting Sutherland at, Sam Stanley at (304) 696-3401 or Mike Hurley at (740) 532-8712.