After deciding on a new direction for its defense last month, USC has settled on a new leader for its special teams.
USC is expected to hire Sean Snyder, a longtime Kansas State assistant and son of Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder, as special teams coordinator, according to a person familiar with the decision who was not authorized to speak publicly.
USC still has two assistant vacancies, at cornerbacks coach and defensive line coach, both of which it plans to fill in the coming days. Todd Orlando was hired as defensive coordinator in January.
Snyder’s hire, which is not yet official, fills a role that’s been vacant since the day after USC’s Holiday Bowl defeat to Iowa, when John Baxter, who was four seasons into his second stint leading the Trojans special teams, was fired.
A former All-American punter at Kansas State, Snyder spent the last 26 years with the program, serving first as director of football operations and then as coordinator and associate head coach.
Beginning in 2011, Snyder spent eight seasons coordinating the Wildcats’ special teams units under his father, who retired following the 2018 season. With a new staff in place last season, Snyder, 50, spent 2019 as a senior special teams analyst for coach Chris Klieman.
Snyder has never coached outside of Manhattan, Kan., but had been linked as a possible candidate for coordinator vacancies at Nebraska and Texas. At Kansas State, his special teams units were among the most respected in the nation, finishing first in special teams efficiency in 2017.
Last season, USC finished as the worst kickoff coverage team in college football, ranking last out of 130 teams in return yards allowed.
USC’s other special teams units didn’t fare much better. The punt return teams ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in average yards per return, while their kickoff return and punt teams ranked in the bottom half of the conference.
“You want your special teams to be special,” USC coach Clay Helton said in September. He then offered a vote of confidence in Baxter, who had been Helton’s only special teams coordinator.
Under Snyder’s tutelage, Kansas State’s special teams were long considered among the nation’s best. According to Football Outsiders, the Wildcats ranked among the nation’s top 25 in special teams efficiency every year from 2014 to 2017.
Snyder switched to an analyst role last season and was paid a salary of $200,000, according to the Kansas City Star.