The Toledo Rockets know a lot about ten win seasons as they've become a highly successful program over the previous decade. Despite this, the Rockets have been unable to punch a ticket to the MAC Championship game and have not taken home a conference title since 2004. This season, in a decisive Mid-American Conference game between the Rockets and Broncos in the final week of the regular season, Toledo had a chance to get to Ford Field and play Ohio for a title. However, a 55-35 outcome in Western Michigan's favor now leaves the Rockets patiently waiting for their bowl fate. At 9-3, nobody is overly disappointed in Jason Candle and the Rockets.
"I believe whenever Toledo doesn't make it to the MAC Championship, it's a disappointing feeling," former runningback, David Fluellen told us, "That's just the standard the coaches, players, and school holds the team to. I will say that I am very proud of the team this year by beating our rivals in Bowling Green and Northern Illinois with ending that streak against us and putting themselves in a position to win the MAC West and compete for a championship. I will also say that we need to find a way to take the next step as a program and be a feared team where everyone in the MAC knows Toledo will win the MAC Championship each and every year, like how Alabama is expected to win the SEC every year. There's no doubt in my mind that Coach Candle will get the job done," Fluellen continued.
Taking that next step as a program can be difficult, but with a 10-3 overall record after a bowl win and first full season in the Glass City, nobody is doubting Jason Candle, especially not former players who know what he brings to the program.
"I think it was a great season," former Rocket wide receiver, Bernard Reedy told us, "with Candle being a first time head coach and still goes 9-3 in the regular season, that shows exactly how bought in the players were with him. I know every year we want that MAC Championship but this year didn't go as planned. We'll still be victorious in the bowl game and get to 10-3," Reedy stated.
As Reedy stated, with a bowl game looming, the Rockets have a chance to get another win to make it back-to-back ten win seasons.
"I thought it was definitely a solid season," former Toledo captain, Trent Voss said, "With the bowl win coming that'll be ten wins and a lot of schools are happy with that. However, every player and coach in that locker room give three goals at the beginning of the season and every single one of them puts down a MAC title. At Toledo, if we do not win a MAC title then there is definitely some disappointment. But as a fan now, I'm happy with a possible tenth win, that's a great year, especially with what they've done as a team and the adversity they have overcome."
Despite an overall exciting season, the Rockets still need to come to grips with the loss at Western Michigan, which allows the Broncos to play in the MAC Championship game. Former players have messages for the team as far as letting that heartbreaking loss go.
"I would tell them that it sucks right now and that feeling will stay for a while but you have to put it behind you and learn from it," Justin Olack, a former Rocket receiver, stated. "They had a great season and put up record breaking numbers, they should be proud of those accomplishments.
Former Rocket cornerback, Christian Dukes also had input on the Rockets' 2016 season.
"I definitely wanted to see them bring a MAC championship back to the Glass City but I feel as if it has been a good season so far, being able to have so many players break records and get noticed on a national scene. Of course, every team in the Mid-American Conference wants to go to the championship. And even though they won't be able to play for one, they're still able to finish with a ten win season which is great, not many teams get the opportunity to do so," Dukes told us.
Former Toledo defensive end, Allen Covington also voiced his opinion on this year's campaign thus far:
"I'm very proud of the 2016 seniors for having an awesome season, those guys played their hearts out! I can't wait to watch them tear it up in the Bowl game."
Anytime there's a first year head coach in College Football, expectations can be lowered for the first season or two, but that wasn't the case for the Rockets. Jason Candle certainly did an incredible job as a first-year head coach.
"They exceeded my expectations," Cheatham Norrils told us, "I expected them to have more ups and downs and face more adversity but they stepped up in tough times."
As a whole, the Toledo Alumni are always supportive of the Rocket Football team, especially former players. As illustrated, the 2016 season will be remembered as a solid campaign that maybe didn't result with a MAC crown, but a potential ten win season.
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