Cancer claims life of ex-Sun Devils coach Snyder, 69

2009-04-14T00:00:00Z Cancer claims life of ex-Sun Devils coach Snyder, 69By Kyle Odegard East Valley Tribune Arizona Daily Star
April 14, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Bruce Snyder, Arizona State's football coach during the magical 1996 Rose Bowl season, died Monday after a 10-month battle with cancer. He was 69.

Snyder was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year twice — for California in 1990 and Arizona State in 1996 — and had a career coaching record of 126-106-5. He coached at ASU from 1992 to 2000, guiding the Sun Devils to a 58-47 mark.

He led Arizona State to an 11-1 record and the Rose Bowl berth in 1996, coming just minutes away from a national championship before losing to Ohio State 20-17.

But to those who knew him, his on-field accomplishments paled in comparison to the type of man he was.

"We suffered a humongous loss," said Juan Roque, an offensive tackle under Snyder from 1994 to 1996. "This is a bigger loss than any season, any bowl game. This leaves a tremendous void in the Sun Devil family."

Snyder was diagnosed with melanoma in June.

"I know he had been battling hard," former ASU basketball coach Bill Frieder said. "That's too bad. He was a great guy."

Frieder said Snyder would go out of his way to help others. With the basketball team low on bodies due to injuries in the early 1990s, Snyder volunteered defensive end Shante Carver to play on the hardwood.

"He was a great football coach. Everyone knows that," Frieder said. "But even more importantly, he was a good person."

In nine seasons at Arizona State, Snyder was 4-5 against the archrival Arizona Wildcats.

The Sun Devils defeated the UA 30-17 in Tucson on Nov. 24, 2000, Snyder's final regular-season game as a head coach. ASU accepted a bid to the Aloha Classic following that game, but lost 31-17 to Boston College.

Reached Monday, former UA coach Dick Tomey recalled Snyder as "so much more than a football coach."

"Bruce was a good friend," Tomey said from San Jose, Calif., where he is head coach at San Jose State. "We competed tooth-and-nail when we were rivals, but our relationship was more than that. He's as good a football coach as Arizona State's ever had, if not one of the very best I've ever competed against."

Snyder coached more than 40 players at Arizona State who were drafted into the NFL, including Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman, who were both members of that 1996 team.

Snyder's 58 wins are second-most in the program's history. He was recently enshrined into the ASU Athletic Hall of Distinction, joining Tillman in the Class of 2008.

"We have lost one of the great coaches in college football," current Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said in a statement.

Snyder is survived by his wife, Linda, three daughters, two grandchildren, four sisters and two brothers.

Service arrangements will be private.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Ryan Finley contributed to this report

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