Team preview: Marshall

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(All information as of June 20, 2008)

On the surface, it might appear that Marshall coach Mark Snyder has allowed a program with a proud tradition to slip into disrepair during the course of three consecutive losing seasons under his watch.

In reality, the cracks in Marshall's foundation started to appear under former coach Bob Pruett, who led the Thundering Herd to a Division I-AA national championship and six straight Division I-A bowls before the program took a turn for the worse.

After an 11-2 finish in 2002, the Herd slipped to 8-4 in 2003 and 6-6 in 2004. Facing NCAA probation and sanctions for rules violations during his tenure, a move to Conference USA and a downturn in talent and depth, Pruett chose an abrupt "retirement" in the spring of 2004.

By the time Marshall hired Snyder, a successful
Ohio State assistant and former Herd defensive back, it was too late for the new coaching staff to conduct spring practice.

Now, despite a 3-9 finish in 2007, the reality is that Snyder appears to have the program moving in the right direction. After enduring an inordinate number of injuries last season, the Thundering Herd returns 33 players who have started at least once in their careers -- 18 on defense and 15 on offense. The majority of the program's most talented players are juniors, sophomores and freshmen, and Snyder is convinced the talent and depth levels are on the rise.