Matt Campbell leaving Toledo wasn't as surprising of a move, but the timing might have been a shock for the fan base. The Rockets (9-2, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) promptly named defensive coordinator Jon Heacock as the interim head coach while searching for a name that would be more permanent and now they have their guy.
"I needed the opportunity to sit back and talk to a lot of people nationally, ...locally, ...the most important entity is our players," athletic director Michael Bryant said at the press conference to introduce Jason Candle as the new head coach for the Rockets' football team. "Why the internal choice? It's about our culture. It includes academics, social behavior, and we like to win.
"We didn't simply hire Candle because he was the players' best friend, ...he's earned their respect."
RB Kareem Hunt says some players did go & talk to AD Mike O'Brien about hiring Jason Candle.— Zach Harig (@ToledoZach) December 2, 2015
Jason Candle has been with Toledo for seven years, four as the offensive coordinator. He's helped Toledo be one of the MAC's best offenses, especially in 2014 where they led in most major offensive statistical categories. He also had the always-fun challenge of having to prepare all of his quarterbacks last year and some with a string of injuries from Phillip Ely's knee to Logan Woodside's ankle to Michael Julian's concussion to Dwight Macon playing the position for the first time since high school.
"It's a good day to stay home," Candle opened up with during the press conference. "This has not been an easy couple of days. The one thing we can be proud of is the great consistency. When there's great consistency in leadership, success happens."
The coaching career for Candle started in 2003 when he was the wide receivers coach for Mount Union through 2006 while Matt Campbell was calling the play for two of those seasons. Once Campbell left for Bowling Green to be an offensive line coach, Candle was able to assume the OC position for two years. Hired to join Tim Beckman's staff in 2009, he's coached receivers and tight ends before Campbell became the head coach and assumed the play-calling duties.
Preparing players to play has been a positive note for Candle's resume, but you can't talk about Candle without bringing up his ability to be a great recruiter for the program. National scouting services have previously mentioned that he is one of the best recruiters in the MAC, said that Beckman helped him become the recruiter that he is today.
"Nine wins is a great season, but ultimately we didn't end up in Detroit and that's the expectation." Candle said, recognizing that the Rockets haven't won a MAC title since 2004 and fans want to make that trip to Ford Field again soon. The Rockets were the preseason media favorite to win the MAC West, but losses to Northern Illinois and Western Michigan kept them out of the running again, finishing 6-2 in conference play as co-divisional champions.
The lawyers have not finalized Jason Candle's contract, so it's not yet public record. But AD Mike O'Brien told me it is for 5 years.— Nick Piotrowicz (@NickPiotrowicz) December 2, 2015
You can watch the press conference in its entirety below, courtesy of Toledo Rockets' YouTube channel. (Skip to around the 11-minute mark, it's just silence up until then).