By Monica Alonzo
By Ray Stern
By New Times Staff
By Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Robrt L. Pela
Snyder learned long ago how to claim credit for what his team does. He speaks convincingly of loyalty to the school at which he's coaching and yet he has always been ready to cut and run for the next job.
There is a subtlety about it all. The successful football coach manipulates the media so that all the credit for victories in the big game goes to the clever strategy designed by the coach and not to the performance of the players. In Snyder's case, it was trick plays which he insisted provided turning points in key games.
For years before he was forced out of his job in disgrace at Oklahoma, Barry Switzer was one of the best coaches in the country, and here's what he says about that: I believe that in the 1950s and 1960s, there were coaches who could consistently outcoach other coaches," Switzer said in his outstanding book, Bootlegger's Boy.
Bud Wilkinson and Bear Bryant were probably the last two who could do it. By the 1970s there were so many good coaches who were products of winning systems, who knew what it takes to win, that no coach could ever really outsmart anybody.
The magic was in the players."
But Snyder successfully convinced the media he was chiefly responsible for this past winning season. The better his team got, the more credit he received for calling trick plays. It wasn't the players who got credit for executing the plays, but Snyder for creating them.
As a result, Snyder ended up departing his job at California for the head coaching spot at Arizona State. In doing so, he doubled his salary to $500,000 a year.
That figure is more than is made by the governor of Arizona, the president of ASU, the mayor of Phoenix and all the police chiefs in the Valley combined.
There are two ways to look at this. Snyder is either the greatest coach in America, or Charles Harris, the athletic director at ASU, has made one grand and monumental error.
Snyder's success at California turned his career around. He was obviously prepared to make a leap forward.
Snyder knew Larry Marmie was on his way out at ASU. Everybody did. Charles Harris made no secret of that. And Snyder let it be known he could be tempted.
And yet, even while making this move Snyder displayed a proclivity to play his cards close to the vest. Not even his assistant coaches knew he was contemplating a sudden departure from Berkeley.
When the announcement came, they were all stunned. To date, he has asked five of the assistants to join him at ASU.
Even Snyder's wife and children were kept in the dark as to what might be coming.
Snyder's two oldest daughters, now 21 and 18, decided they won't make the move to Arizona. They plan to get an apartment of their own and remain in California.
Bob Bockrath, Snyder's athletic director at Cal, made it clear that he felt he had been betrayed by Snyder. When the overture was made to Snyder by Harris, Snyder did not confide that information to Bockrath. Bockrath never learned about the offer until it was too late for a counteroffer.
Snyder's sudden departure was also a shock to Russell White, California's premier running back.
Now regarded as a prime Heisman candidate for next year, White came to play for California only after a drawn-out battle for his services with USC.
White is dyslexic. He was unable to read well enough to pass the entrance exams with a grade high enough to make him eligible to play in his freshman year.
Southern Cal told White that if he flunked the test he would have to go to junior college.
Snyder tells the story of sitting down with White to make sure he would be a serious student. Are you committed to earning a degree?" Snyder asked. Are you only using us to play football and go to the pros?"
White assured Snyder he was serious about college life. It must have been a warm scene. Certainly, Snyder must have assured the young man that they were now both deeply dedicated to the same school.
White has already learned an important lesson about life from his coach. Snyder has shown his former star running back that even the coach's dedication could be blown away suddenly by a generous offer from Arizona State.
White has already learned the power of money. So much for school loyalty.
Now, at age 51, Snyder is Arizona State's new coach. But for how long?
Once again, as he did at California, Snyder says he had found still another job that he would like to keep until his retirement.
Who knows what's next?
Snyder departed Berkeley so abruptly that there was no time for him to even say goodbye to the players on the team that had just won the Citrus Bowl for him.
I'm confused," one of Snyder's California players told a sportswriter. Why didn't he tell us?"
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