TAMPA — USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, who has run the Bulls defense in Skip Holtz's two seasons in Tampa, is leaving to take the same job at Texas A and M, Holtz confirmed Monday afternoon.
Snyder, 47, who was head coach at Marshall for five years before coming to USF, is leaving one old Conference USA friendship for another one, joining the first SEC staff of former Houston coach Kevin Sumlin.
Snyder was Holtz's highest-paid assistant, earning $260,000 in 2011-12, but he'll likely make significantly more as an SEC defensive coordinator. His predecessor with the Aggies, Tim DeRuyter, made $550,000 last season before leaving to become head coach at Fresno State. Four SEC defensive coordinators made $700,000 or more in 2011.
USF's defense took a step back in 2011 after losing three starters in the NFL draft and putting another two in preseason camps. The Bulls gave up 351.3 yards per game, 35.5 more than in Snyder's first season, and allowed 22.7 points per game, up from 20. In several Big East games, USF gave up touchdown drives in the closing minutes.
Some of USF's best defensive efforts went unrewarded this season. Snyder's unit kept Connecticut and Miami out of the end zone, but the Huskies won 16-10 on a defensive touchdown and Miami prevailed 6-3 on a last-second field goal.
If Holtz is to hire a coordinator he has first-hand experience with, the best option might be FSU linebackers coach Greg Hudson, who was his defensive coordinator at East Carolina from 2005-09 and was on his original staff at Connecticut from 1994-96. While Hudson isn't a coordinator in Tallahassee, he's in a high-profile position with a talented defense, and he might be too expensive for the Bulls, making $335,500 in 2011.
NOTES: Nine scholarship players officially joined the program Monday, including five midyear transfers from junior colleges who signed last month.
As expected, three early enrollees started freshman classes and formally joined USF's football program: Chris Bivins, a cornerback from Gainesville; Eric Lee, a defensive end from Daphne, Ala.; and James Hamilton, a defensive tackle from Orlando. Receiver Alex Mut of Punta Gorda, who signed with USF in February, went on scholarship with the start of spring classes; he deferred his arrival as a grayshirt after injuring his knee last spring.