Bloomington, Ind. – One of the easiest tasks for new IU head football coach Bill Lynch was finding his own replacement.
After Lynch was named head coach following the passing of Terry Hoeppner, one of his first chores was finding someone who would take over his role as the Hoosiers' offensive coordinator. He didn't have to look far, picking IU Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Matt Canada as the point man for the Hoosiers' offensive attack.
"That was a really easy decision," Lynch said.
Lynch was well aware of Canada's abilities. Canada began his coaching career as a graduate assistant on Bill Mallory's IU staff in the early-to-mid 1990s, a staff that also featured Lynch as IU's quarterback coach. Their paths crossed again in the Mid-America Conference, where Lynch was the head coach at Ball State and Canada was an assistant on Joe Novak's Northern Illinois teams from 1998-2003.
"We competed all those years when I was at Ball State and he was at Northern," Lynch said. "He's so well qualified."
Canada does boast some impressive credentials. Besides spending the last three years in Bloomington tutoring the likes of Matt LoVecchio, Blake Powers and Kellen Lewis, his 11-year college coaching resume includes two other stints as an offensive coordinator – in 1997 at Butler and in 2003 at Northern Illinois. That 2003 Northern Illinois squad went 10-2, was ranked as high as No. 12 nationally, and had wins over a pair of top-20 foes in Maryland and Alabama.
Canada gets another chance to lead an offense, something he admits he was hoping for when he left Northern Illinois in 2004 to join Gerry DiNardo's IU staff.
"When I made the move back in '04, it was with the hopes of becoming a Big Ten coordinator," Canada said. "It was part of a move that I needed to do to make it happen.
"To be back calling plays is something I'm really excited about."
The circumstances surrounding Canada's promotion, though, doesn't bring any joy to the '93 IU graduate. The passing of Hoeppner – who retained Canada from DiNardo's staff when he took over the IU program in 2005 – resulted in Lynch taking over for Hoeppner and Canada assuming Lynch's offensive coordinator role.
"It's not going to be just another football season, because he's not here," Canada said. "In the same breath, we owe it to him, to this program, and to this university to continue to play good football, and to continue to build the program that he laid the foundation for."
Canada will be a big part of that in his new role. He said IU fans shouldn't expect any dramatic changes in what they've seen from the Hoosiers offensively in recent years, as the staff continues to try to best utilize the skills of a plethora talented skill position players.
"I'm really excited, I think as a staff we're excited," Canada said. "We're confident with where we are and with what we're going to do. I don't think there are questions about who our playmakers are, it's our job to put them in positions to make plays.
"That's all our job is. Players make plays, coaches put them in position, and players make plays, and that's what we're going to do. It's a lot easier to do as a coach when you have this many playmakers. That's exciting."
Among the weapons that Canada will have to lean on are sophomore quarterback Kellen Lewis, junior wideouts James Hardy and James Bailey, and a pair of explosive tailbacks in Demetrius McCray and Marcus Thigpen. They'll work behind an offensive line that isn't nearly the question mark that it was at this time a year ago.
While Canada said Lynch will remain very involved in what IU does offensively, it will be Canada who is in the coaches box making the play calls, something he last did four years ago.
During those four years, Canada says he's grown a great deal as a football coach and is well prepared for the task ahead.
I've said it many times - I have grown tremendously and am a much better football coach than I was when I left Northern," Canada said. "That's nothing against Northern, I can't say enough about that experience. But going back to when I coached with Coach DiNardo, learning a tremendous amount from him, then the great opportunity to work with Hep, and with all the guys on this staff. Every year you learn more and more.
"I'm certainly more prepared now than I would have been then."
Canada Excited About New Role
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