Northwestern Tigers football fans can now breathe a sigh of relief for next season, while Northwestern's Colonial League opponents may want to invest in an oxygen machine.
This is because the Northwestern Lehigh administration has decided to hire former standout running back Josh Snyder to lead the Tigers into the 2012 football season.
Snyder, a Lehigh alum graduated from Northwestern in 1998 where he had a great career in the black and gold before heading to South Bethlehem to play for the Mountain Hawks.
Snyder will succeed Tom Linette, who compiled a 10-10 record in two seasons after replacing longtime coach Bob Mitchell. Snyder has served as an assistant coach for the past seven years. He inherits a team that has not made a postseason appearance since 2009, when the Tigers lost to Bethlehem Catholic 13-0 in the final of the Eastern Conference Class 3A playoffs. Northwestern last appeared in the District 11 playoffs in 2007, when it defeated Lehighton before falling 23-6 to Blue Mountain in the Class 3A final.
"I remember mentioning in my playing days that in the future I would like to get into coaching," said Snyder. "I learned from some of the best at the collegiate and high school level. I was a team captain here and at Lehigh. I want to take the things I have learned from my experiences and bring them to Northwestern football. This was really a no-brainer for me and there is no school district or community I would rather coach for than Northwestern."
The transition from player to head coach can often be a challenging process and even though Snyder had been an assistant for the past seven seasons carrying the weight of head coach is a challenge he welcomes.
"I have learned over the years that being a head coach isn't all about the "x's and o's," said Snyder. "There is a lot that comes across your desk now with off-season work-outs, keeping track of student academics, and dealing with the booster club and parents. It's something that's going to be different for me, but I feel 100% prepared to handle it all."
Snyder believes that his work ethic that made him into the stellar player on the field will help him grow and become a better coach as the years go on.
"I wasn't the most talented guy on the field," said Snyder. "I wasn't the fastest or the strongest, I had some skill of course, but it was my work ethic that made me successful. As I improved on my craft as a player I expect to improve my craft as a coach. That's the kind-of attitude I want to instill here at Northwestern. We want to work hard, learn, and build a good football program."
The Tigers the past few season have switched to a spread offense from their traditional wing-T attack they ran the previous 30 odd years. Snyder plans to bring back the physical tough running game that Northwestern was known for in the past, but will also look to create a balanced offensive attack.
"The last two seasons we went with the spread offense based on our personnel," said Snyder. "I'm the kind-of coach who will base the offensive scheme off what personnel we have. We will adjust in accordance to what talents we have. We are going to look to bring back some physicality this year. The last couple seasons we haven't had the biggest or strongest lineman, but right now we have a nice-sized group working hard in the weight room to change that for next season."
Snyder's hire looks to be the perfect fit for the Tigers and Northwestern Athletic Director Jason Zimmerman wasn't hesitant in explaining his excitement of Snyder now being the head man.
"Coach Snyder bleeds black and gold," said Zimmerman. "We had some really strong candidates, but when it comes down to it Josh knows how to do things right. This community and school district is proud to have a man like this leading our football team and his dedication and desire can only mean good things to come for Tiger football in the future."