- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Bruce Snyder, who led Arizona State to a perfect regular season and the 1997 Rose Bowl, died Monday after a 10-month fight against cancer. He was 69.
After leading the Sun Devils to an 11-0 regular season, Snyder earned consensus 1996 national coach of the year honors. He also was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year twice, once at Arizona State and in 1990 as California's head coach.
Snyder coached the Sun Devils between 1992 and 2000 and compiled a 58-47 record. His 20 years as a head coach included tenures at Cal (1987-91) and Utah State (1976-82) and he also was an assistant for the Los Angeles Rams from 1983 to '86. He left Arizona State after the 2000 season with an all-time record of 126-106-5.
"He was extremely hardworking, one of those grinders. He would never give up. He was very focused, very fundamental. He would say, 'Let's don't talk about what to do. Let's talk about how to do it.' He was really a good coach, a good teacher," said former NFL and college coach John Robinson, who hired Snyder away from Utah State to assist with the Rams.
"He was very interested in motivation: fundamental football and motivate the players as much as you could."
Snyder's grand achievement was the Sun Devils' 1996 run. Led by quarterback Jake Plummer, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, ASU landed on the national map with a stunning 19-0 upset of two-time defending national champion and top-ranked Nebraska. The Sun Devils played in their second Rose Bowl, falling to Ohio State 20-17 on a last-minute touchdown, and concluded the season ranked fourth in the national polls.
"He was a guy that helped a lot of us kids grow up, especially myself," said Keith Poole, a wide receiver on that 1996 team. "It was my first time away from home and he basically took over as a father. He taught you how to be tough. He didn't have any soft love. You learned to respect him for that."
Snyder, recently enshrined in the ASU Athletic Hall of Distinction, won 13 major coach of the year awards after that season, including the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award.
Snyder's 58 victories rank second on Arizona State's all-time list. He coached more than 40 Sun Devils players who were later selected in the NFL draft, including seven first-round picks -- Shante Carver, Craig Newsome, Erik Flowers, Adam Archuleta, Todd Heap, Levi Jones and Terrell Suggs.
In his final season at Cal before going to Arizona State, Snyder directed the Golden Bears to a 10-2 record, No. 8 national ranking and a win over ACC champion Clemson in the Citrus Bowl. He also won two conference championships at Utah State.
"He did a great job for me. He had that thing going," said Houston athletic director Dave Maggard, who hired Snyder at Cal.
"He had a thorough plan. He talked about where he would recruit, the offense he would run, the defense. He had excellent football knowledge and he worked at it. When you combine those things, you're going to have success."
Snyder was diagnosed with cancer last June. He is survived by his wife, three daughters, a son-in-law, two grandchildren, four sisters and two brothers. Service arrangements will be private.
College football blogger Ted Miller covers the Pac-10 for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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