University of Toledo head football coach Matt Campbell, for a day or two in December, 2008, was committed to be an assistant coach at Wyoming. Motivating him to retract his verbal agreement was an enticing deal from Toledo, where he would be a coordinator rather than a position coach, and where it would be unnecessary to uproot his family and move 20 hours away.
Much of the discussion locally next week will center on Matt Campbell facing his previous employer, Bowling Green, in the Battle of I-75.
Unknown to many is University of Toledo's football coach is in a similar position this week. Campbell never loaded a moving truck, never signed his name to a contract, and an announcement of his hiring was not distributed to the media. But for a day or two in December, 2008, he was committed to be an assistant coach at Wyoming.
Motivating him to retract his verbal agreement was an enticing deal from Toledo, where he would be a coordinator rather than a position coach, and where it would be unnecessary to uproot his family and move 20 hours away.
"That opportunity outweighed the opportunity of moving out there," Campbell said.
Four years later, Campbell will finally make the trip to Laramie when the Rockets travel west for the second straight week to take on a Wyoming team that has fared well without him.
The Cowboys, under fourth-year coach Dave Christensen, have played in two bowl games and notched eight wins last season.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, right, nearly hired Toledo coach Matt Campbell as an assistant coach in December, 2008.
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Christensen -- a Toledo assistant during the mid-1990s -- has assembled a staff that includes two coaches with local connections: Offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, the former Bowling Green coach who hired Campbell to his first FBS coaching job, and offensive line coach Jim Harding, a Maumee native and a former standout lineman with the Rockets.
Perhaps speaking semantically, Christensen said Tuesday he never hired Campbell and that he doesn't recall if a verbal agreement was reached. He and Campbell had a pre-existing relationship, as Christensen's offensive staff at Missouri met often to swap ideas with the offensive staff at Bowling Green.
"I certainly wanted to," Christensen said of hiring Campbell to coach his offensive line.
"Would have loved to have had him on my staff. I think he's an excellent football coach."
Christensen, who served as offensive coordinator under Gary Pinkel at Toledo and Missouri, said he "certainly had a great run and experience while I was" coaching with the Rockets, but that he is removed too far from those days to surrender to nostalgia this week.
Of the three wins Wyoming scored in 2010 -- Christensen's second season -- one came at the Glass Bowl against a Toledo team that lost 20-15 after falling behind 20-0.
"I have tremendous respect for coach Christensen," Campbell said. "I've learned a lot from him as a young offensive line coach and watching him develop his program."
Campbell speaks in similar tone about Brandon, the man who took a chance on him at age 27 by offering him a full-time job. Toledo's spread offense is derived from the one Brandon employed at Bowling Green, and now at Wyoming.
"Going through the process of becoming a head football coach, his willingness to help and always be there for me ... We've always had a great relationship."
Their staff at Bowling Green was dismissed following the 2008 season, creating an entrance for Campbell at Wyoming. And then at Toledo, under new head coach Tim Beckman.
Campbell does not spend much time wondering what might have transpired had he not backed out of the Wyoming job. At the time he was optimistic, concluding that a program headed by Christensen "was probably going to be the start of something special."
Given his rise to head coach after three seasons at UT, it is reasonable to suggest Campbell made the right call in reneging at Wyoming.
"At the time you try to evaluate all the facts and try to make the best decision for you and your family and try not to look back," he said. "I'm certainly appreciative of the opportunity I've had at the University of Toledo."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.
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