One of the most respected defensive minds in college football, Mark Snyder was hired as Texas A&M’s defensive coordinator in 2012 by head coach Kevin Sumlin.
A former head coach and veteran defensive coordinator with multiple national championships on his résumé, Snyder came to College Station after coordinating South Florida’s defense for the previous two seasons.
In addition to his time at USF, Snyder’s impressive résumé includes a five-year stint as head coach at his alma mater, Marshall University, and a stay as defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel at Ohio State and Youngstown State.
Prior to joining the USF staff, Snyder coached Marshall from 2005-09. He became the 28th head football coach for the Thundering Herd on April 14, 2005.
Snyder’s first season at Marshall had plenty of highlights. It marked the emergence of sophomore running back Ahmad Bradshaw (now with the Indianapolis Colts), who finished the season with 997 yards rushing (tops among underclassmen in Conference USA) en route to earning second-team All-C-USA honors.
In addition, the Thundering Herd set a school single-game attendance record with a crowd of 36,914 for the Kansas State contest on September 10, 2005 and in the spring of 2006 set a Green & White Game record with 17,346 fans. The former Marshall standout led one of the youngest Thundering Herd teams on record, one that lost 25 seniors from the previous year and had only six returning starters, to a 4-7 overall and 3-5 conference mark in his first season - Marshall’s first in the highly competitive Conference USA.
In Snyder’s second season, he saw Bradshaw return at running back and receivers Marcus Fitzgerald (brother of Arizona Cardinals standout Larry Fitzgerald) and Hiram Moore have breakout seasons. Snyder’s second season saw a bit more production, after a loss to West Virginia in the annual rivalry game to start the season. The Herd posted a 5-7 record and a 4-4 conference record, including a 4-1 mark at home. The marquee victory
of the season was over UTEP, which was led by Jordan Palmer at quarterback. Bradshaw rushed for 261 yards and five touchdowns in that conference victory.
To begin Snyder’s third season as Marshall head coach, the Thundering Herd started the season 0-7. However, the Herd won their final three home games of the season, including a 26-7 victory over Skip Holtz and then division-leading East Carolina.
In 2009, the Thundering Herd became bowl eligible for the first time since 2004 and finished the season with a 7-6 record. Snyder’s squad defeated a talented Ohio team, 21-17, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Snyder went to Marshall after four years as an assistant coach at Ohio State, including his last season there as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator. In Snyder’s four years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes posted a 40-11 overall record and tallied a 3-1 record in bowl games, including victories in the 2003 and 2004 Tostitos Fiesta Bowls.
Snyder helped develop a number of outstanding players at Ohio State, including All-Americans Matt Wilhelm, Cie Grant and A.J. Hawk. Both Wilhelm and Grant played key roles in Ohio State’s 2002 National Championship before going on to become NFL Draft picks. Hawk led OSU with 141 tackles en route to becoming the No. 5 overall pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Snyder went to Ohio State from the University of Minnesota, where he spent four years coaching the Golden Gophers’ defensive ends. While he was with the Golden Gophers, Minnesota’s defense twice set school records for single-season sacks and averaged 40.7 sacks during a three-year span. Snyder helped develop Lamanzer Williams, who led the nation in sacks in 1997, and Karon Riley, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2000. Williams, Riley and Greg “Stylez” White went on to successful careers in the NFL.
Prior to Minnesota, he also made stops at Marshall, Central Florida and Youngstown State.
The South Point, Ohio, native was an all-state selection for Ironton High School at quarterback and also played basketball and ran track. Snyder went on to play free safety at Marshall. In 1987, he led the Southern Conference with 10 interceptions, was second on the team with 124 tackles his senior year at Marshall. Along the way, he helped lead the Herd to a landmark come-from-behind win at Louisville and a berth in Marshall’s first-ever NCAA Div. II championship game.
He captured honorable mention All-America honors and first-team All-Southern Conference honors that season as the Thundering Herd posted a 10-5 overall record and finished as national runnersup to Northeast Louisiana (43-42) in the 1987 Division 1-AA National Championship game. Snyder’s 10 interceptions in 1987 still stand as the Marshall and Southern Conference single-season record.
Snyder graduated from Marshall in the spring of 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management and marketing before starting his coaching career the following fall as a student assistant for the Herd. He went to Central Florida the following year and spent two seasons at UCF, the first as a graduate assistant and the second as a part-time coach working with the linebackers.
In 1991, Snyder joined Tressel’s Youngstown State staff as the outside linebackers coach. Snyder was given the added responsibility of special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach in 1994 and was promoted to defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 1996. During his tenure at Youngstown State, the Penguins won three NCAA Division 1-AA national championships and played in four consecutive national championship games, facing Marshall in three of those contests (1991, 1992 and 1993).
Mark and his wife, the former Beth Molter who is a native of Ironton, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, have three daughters: Chelsea, Lindsay and Shaylee.