Let the Search Begin

The last time the University of Toledo needed to search for a new head football coach was back in 2000. The Rockets just completed a 10-1 season, and coach Gary Pinkel has accepted the same position at the University of Missouri. This time is much different as the Rockets are likely looking at a 3rd straight losing season, but the candidates will be knocking on the door.

The last time the University of Toledo needed to search for a new head football coach was back in 2000. The Rockets just completed a 10-1 season, and coach Gary Pinkel has accepted the same position at the University of Missouri.

The search for his replacement didn't take long and seemed like a no-brainer. All Toledo needed to do was promote "Toledo" Tom Amstutz from defensive coordinator to the head coaching job.

This time will be much different. After a lot of success at Toledo, Tom Amstutz is stepping down at the end of the season after what appears to be a 3rd straight losing season. Toledo is 2-6 right now, with four more games remaining.

There is no logical replacement, and Toledo Athletic Director Mike O'Brien has another big coaching search to conduct. Just last spring he hired new head coaches for the men's and women's basketball teams. Now he must find the next head football coach.

It's going to be a tough search and I don't envy Mr. O'Brien, but knowing Mike I know that he is excited and anxious to begin the search. I have complete confidence that he will find the perfect fit for the University of Toledo football program.

So while I expect the University of Toledo to receive at least 25 applications from persons hoping to become the next Rocket football coach, who are some of the early candidates?

Make no mistake that former UT assistant coach and current Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus will be on the list. Matt is a 1993 graduate of the University of Toledo, where he was a four year letterwinner at linebacker for the Rockets from 1988 through 1991.

He coached at Toledo as a graduate assistant and then became the recruiting coordinator for the Rockets in 1994 and coached safeties and defensive backs at UT until following Pinkel to Missouri in December of 2000, when he became the defensive coordinator for the Missouri Tigers. In 2006 he added the title of Associate Head Coach, along with being the defensive coordinator. Matt also recruits the Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois areas for Missouri, three key states that the next head coach at Toledo will need to recruit.

Another guy being mentioned is Jay Paterno from Penn State. He is the quarterbacks coach for the Nittany Lions, and he was interested in the Toledo job back in 2000 when Gary Pinkel left for Missouri.

Jay, the legendary Joe Paterno's son, has alot of coaching experience now and is a more serious possibility for the head coaching job at Toledo. He has developed Penn State quarterbacks such as Anthony Morelli, Michael Robinson, Zach Mills, and current PSU quarterback Darryl Clark.

Jay started out as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for Penn State, and has been considered a good recruiter for the Nittany Lions. He was also the quarterbacks coach at James Madison for one year, wide receivers and tight ends coach at UCONN for two years and a graduate assistant coach at Virginia for three years before that. He was a backup quarterback at Penn State during his playing days.

Another candidate being talked about is Dan Mullen, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Florida. Dan has ties to the MAC as he served as quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green for two years under Urban Meyer in 2001 and 2002. He also spent two years coaching quarterbacks at Utah, before following Urban Meyer to Florida in 2005 and taking on the offensive coordinator position as well.

Before Bowling Green in 2001, he spent time from 1994 through 2000 with stops at Wagner, Columbia, Syracuse, and Notre Dame.

Last year Dan's offense at Florida was ranked #1 in the SEC and 3rd in the nation in scoring, averaging 42.5 points per game. It was the 2nd highest point total ever for a season at the University of Florida.

He's been the quarterbacks coach for Josh Harris (BGSU), Alex Smith (Utah), Chris Leak (Florida), and now Tim Tebow (Florida).

At 36 years old, Dan is ready to be a head coach. He's also been rumored to be a candidate for the newly opened head coaching job at Tennessee.

Next is Chuch Martin, head coach at Grand Valley State. Chuck is in his fifth season at the helm at GVSU, the #1 ranked Division II school in the country. He is 59-4 overall as the head coach. GVSU has won the Division II National Championship twice and looks like they could do it again this year. In fact, his teams are 49-1 since the start of the 2005 season, with the one loss coming in 2007. This after a 10-3 season in his first year as head coach.

Chuck was an assistant at GVSU for four seasons before being named the head coach. He was the defensive coordinator in 2003, a year that they won the Division II National Championship.

He coached at Wittenberg University in Sprinfield, OH for two seasons back in the mid 90's, and was the linebackers coach at Eastern Michigan in 1998 and 1999. At the age of 39, Chuck is young enough to have a long coaching career ahead of him, but also has the experience to make the jump to Division I.

There will be many more names popping out over the coming weeks, but the above names are all very legitimate candidates that will hit the list in Mike O'Brien's office.

Now, let the search begin.

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