CHARLOTTE – It didn't exactly come as a surprise when head coach Matt Rhule officially hired Phil Snow as the Panthers new defensive coordinator on Monday. After all, Rhule made sure to point out during his own introduction last week that he had never won a game without Snow by his side.
Snow most recently served as Rhule's defensive coordinator at Baylor since 2017, helping engineer the turnaround that led the Bears to a Top 10 finish in 2019.
Rhule and Snow's connection runs deeper than just Baylor, though, and so do Snow's roots in coaching – stretching all the way back to 1970s. Before Snow gets started scheming in Carolina, let's take a look at how he got here.
Where it all began
Back in the day, before Rhule ever came to the Carolinas, one of his first stops was as a defensive line coach at UCLA working under Snow, who at that time was the Bruins' defensive coordinator.
By then, Snow was already a well-established coach out west, with stops at Boise State, Cal and Arizona State as both a defensive backs coach and a defensive coordinator. That year the Bruins started off hot, climbing all the way to No. 4 in the country, before a few late losses derailed the season. However, one thing was clear from that year: Snow and Rhule had developed a bond that would extend far past Los Angeles.
When Rhule got his first head coaching gig at Temple in 2013, he made sure to return the favor and bring in Snow as his defensive coordinator – and the two have stuck together ever since.
In good company
Snow and new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady may have never competed on the field in 2019, but they were matched up off the turf. Snow and Brady were both finalists for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top collegiate assistant coach.
Brady ended up taking home the honor, but Snow certainly gave him a run for his money. Snow transformed the Baylor defense in 2019, helping the unit improve from 10th in the Big 12 in yards per play to first, as well as from eighth in scoring defense to first. Under Snow, the Bears finished third in the country in interceptions, eighth in fumble recoveries and ninth in sacks.
Now, the two finalists have teamed up in Carolina in search of some common hardware.
The "Yoda of coaches"
After over 40 years of coaching, it's safe to say Snow has learned his fair share of defensive schemes and strategies. He's earned a few nicknames over the years, too, but none may be more fitting than "Yoda." While Snow may not share the same stature or green skin as the Jedi master from "Star Wars," his players at Baylor deemed him equally as wise.
Snow's extensive coaching resume includes four years spent in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, which makes him all the more valuable to Rhule, a first-time NFL coach.
Major League family
Snow's sports ties don't just stick to the gridiron.
Snow's nephew, Dustin Pedroia, is a pretty big name on the baseball diamond. It turns out the Red Sox legend owes Snow for helping his path to the big leagues. Back when Snow was defensive coordinator at Arizona State, he reached out to then-baseball coach Pat Murphy insisting he check out his nephew. Murphy did, and the rest is history.
View photos of defensive coordinator Phil Snow during his three years as defensive coordinator at Baylor with Matt Rhule.