Tom Amstutz and Mike Dunbar, believed to be the leading candidates to become the University of Toledo's next football coach, were both on campus last night.
Amstutz, a Toledo native who has joined Gary Pinkel's Missouri staff as the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, was back in town for UT's football banquet.
Amstutz will interview for the Rockets' job this morning, then jet back to Columbia, Mo., with Pinkel and former UT offensive coordinator Dave Christensen.
Dunbar, the coach at Northern Iowa and a former Rocket assistant under Pinkel, was visiting his son, Troy, a student at the university.
Sources said Dunbar did not interview with athletic director Pete Liske yesterday, but Dunbar is expected to meet with Liske on Monday.
Northern Iowa athletic director Rick Hartzell said he gave Liske permission to speak to Dunbar this past Tuesday, and the two already have had preliminary discussions about the UT job.
Amstutz and Liske declined comment last night, and Dunbar could not be reached.
Pinkel, the winningest coach in school history with a 73-37-3 record, said he has not offered Liske any advice on selecting a new coach.
“I'm not getting involved in that - that's not my business,” Pinkel said.
Amstutz, 45, and Dunbar, 51, were on the same UT staff together under Pinkel from 1992-1996.
Amstutz, who worked for four different coaches in his 21 years as a Rockets assistant, became the defensive coordinator in 1995 and had been the top assistant the past two seasons.
Amstutz has been an assistant coach for 24 years overall, but has no head coaching experience.
Dunbar has a record of 83-24-1 in 10 years as a head coach. He spent six years at Central Washington and the past four at Northern Iowa, where he is 29-15. Dunbar was UT's offensive coordinator for five years, and the top assistant the last two.
“Pete Liske will make a decision and I think he'll do an excellent job,” Pinkel said. “For me to get involved, and not being here, that wouldn't be right.”
Apparently, Liske will get some help in the decision-making process.
A document supplied to The Blade yesterday by the university said that Liske would submit his recommendation for a coach to William Decatur, UT's interim president.
It also said that Liske will be aided in his search by an interview committee consisting of Calvin Lawshe (interim vice president for student services), Clinton Longenecker (UT faculty/College of Business) and David Bennett (president of Bennett Enterprises).
Even though Amstutz and Dunbar are considered the frontrunners, the possibility still exists that Liske, who has been tight-lipped ever since the search began a week ago, could have a wild-card candidate up his sleeve.
One possibility is Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle, whose name was among 41 candidates who had applied or shown interest in the job, according to a document obtained from the university this week.
Bustle, 47, is highly-regarded for his ability to develop quarterbacks and for his ability to recruit. He is completing his 13th season as quarterbacks coach; his seventh as offensive coordinator.
Since Bustle took over the offense, the Hokies have been to seven consecutive bowl games and have fielded six of the seven highest-scoring teams in school history.
“I did my part,” Pinkel said. “But you know what? They'll hire somebody who will do a better job than me. I feel proud of what we accomplished. It was the right decision (to leave), there's no question about that.”
FRANCE/AWARD: Toledo junior kicker Todd France, of Maumee, was named to the Verizon Academic All-America Football Team. France, who has a 3.968 GPA, was selected to the second team.