The Bruin defense ranked first in the Pac-10 in total defense in Phil Snow’s first season at UCLA in 2001. The unit also finished the season ranked second in the league in rushing defense and scoring defense. In addition, linebacker Robert Thomas, a first round selection by the Rams in the 2002 NFL draft, earned 2001 Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Kenyon Coleman was the defensive winner of the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10’s best lineman.
The veteran coach was hired as Bruin defensive coordinator in January of 2001. Snow, who also tutors the Bruin safeties, spent the previous seven seasons as the defensive coordinator at Arizona State University. Overall, he has coached the past 15 seasons in the Pac-10 conference.
Snow spent nine seasons at Arizona State on the staff of Bruce Snyder. Prior to that, he also served on Snyder’s staff while at the University of California from 1987-91. During his tenure at Arizona State, Snow’s defenses posted five shutouts and held opponents to 10 points or less in 22 games. His defensive units ranked among the top three in scoring defense in the Pac-10 in three of his last five seasons at ASU. In 2000, the Sun Devils ranked first in the nation in fumbles recovered and third in the country in number of turnovers created. The group was headlined by Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Adam Archuleta and conference Freshman of the Year Terrell Suggs.
In 1999, Snow’s defense finished third in the Pac-10 in scoring defense and featured NFL draft picks Erik Flowers and Junior Ioane on a team which played in the Aloha Bowl. His 1997 group ranked third in the Pac-10, but was first in scoring defense (18.5 ppg). The unit was led by Morris Trophy winner Jeremy Staat and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Pat Tillman. ASU played in the Sun Bowl and finished the season ranked 14th in both polls.
Snow’s 1996 ASU squad played in the ’97 Rose Bowl game and finished first in the conference in rush defense (98.0), pass defense (104.2) and total defense (306.2). It held Nebraska scoreless in one game and limited the opposition to under 10 points in five games total that season. The team finished the season ranked fourth in the nation in both polls.
Snow coached former Sun Devil defensive standouts such as Craig Newsome, Lenny McGill, Kevin Miniefield and Jason Simmons who each went on to the NFL.
At California, Snow tutored the secondary in each of his five seasons in Berkeley, improving the unit each year. His philosophy of man-to-man coverage was a key ingredient in the Golden Bear defensive success. The 1990 and 1991 teams won the first back-to-back bowl games (Copper and Citrus) in school history. The 1991 team moved up as high as sixth in the weekly national rankings and played in the school’s first New Year’s Day bowl game in 33 years.
From 1982-86, the Winters, CA native, served on the staff at Boise State for head coaches Lyle Setencich and Jim Criner. Snow was the defensive coordinator for the Broncos in his last four seasons. His 1986 squad was ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, allowing just 269.4 yards per game and recorded two shutouts. It also yielded just 80.3 yards on the ground to rank fourth in the nation in that category. In his final three seasons at Boise State, Snow served as assistant to the head coach in addition to his duties as defensive coordinator.
Before arriving at Boise State, Snow spent three years at Laney College in Oakland, CA, where he was the secondary coach in 1979 and the co-defensive coordinator in 1980 and 1981.
Snow attended Sacramento City College (1974-75) and Cal State Hayward (1977-78). He began his coaching career at the high school level with positions at Berkeley High in 1976 and Winters High in 1977-78.
RECRUITING RESPONSIBILITIES — Local: East Bay to Reno, NV; National: Defensive players.
PERSONAL — Education: Bachelor’s in Physical Education, Cal State Hayward, 1978; At UCLA: Second year (joined staff in January, 2001); Born: December 22, 1955 in Woodland, CA; Family: He and his wife, Debbie, have two sons, Philip (13) and Jacob (10).