Toledo's head coach Matt Campbell watches his players gather in the middle of the field before the start an NCAA college football game against Arizona at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, Sept. 1.
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In the bowels of War Memorial Stadium, Matt Campbell's past and present culminated in a touching display of affection.
There, following Saturday's win over Wyoming, University of Toledo's football coach embraced Gregg Brandon, the person whom Campbell credits for jump-starting his career.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, I know I wouldn't be here without his guidance," Campbell would say later about Wyoming's offensive coordinator.
Their hug, which lasted 10 seconds or so, is as sentimental as Campbell is going to get about the four years he coached under Brandon at Bowling Green. Campbell now refers to that university only as "The Team Down South," a phrase he figures to use frequently this week in advance of his first rivalry game as Toledo's head coach.
He said nothing at Monday's news conference to inflame emotions at his former place of employment. He called the rivalry one of the best in college football and referred to Bowling Green as a confident team after beating Idaho on Saturday and playing Florida close in its opener.
Asked if he referenced Toledo as "The Team Up North" when he was at Bowling Green, Campbell didn't bite.
"That I don't remember, honestly," he said. "It was so long ago."
Campbell said he will not source assistant coach Stan Watson for inside information on the Falcons, admitting he made a mistake in 2009 by overemphasizing the intelligence he and defensive coordinator Mike Ward culled from their familiarity with Bowling Green's players.
Watson, Toledo's special teams coach, left Bowling Green after last season to work under his former college teammate. Campbell joked this will be the first rivalry week in three years in which they have spoken.
"It's about your own football team executing and doing a great job of doing what you do best," Campbell said. "I think the first time that happened to us, some of us coming up here, I think we got lost in that a little bit."
Campbell has won five of seven games in this series, losing in 2004 as a Bowling Green graduate assistant and in 2009 as Toledo's offensive coordinator.
Asked if he'll needle Campbell and Watson about their days spent coaching the rival, linebacker Dan Molls said "definitely not." Others agreed.
"Not during this week," defensive tackle Elijah Jones said. "That's the wrong time. Maybe in the summer we'll joke around about it."
FARR STATUS: Toledo is likely to be without a defensive starter Saturday after tackle Danny Farr injured his knee at Wyoming. Campbell expected to receive test results later in the day to determine Farr's status long-term.
"Expectations are most likely he's going to be out this week," Campbell said.
OWENS HONORED: Quarterback Terrance Owens was named Mid-American Conference West division offensive player of the week after throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 74 yards. He will start Saturday, Campbell said, unless something changes during the week. Senior Austin Dantin did not play at Wyoming, snapping a streak of 27 games in which he has participated when healthy.
SMITH UPDATE: Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith is doubtful for Saturday's game against Cal Poly, Cowboys coach Dave Christensen said Monday. Smith was transported on a stretcher to a local hospital after being knocked unconscious by a shot to the head from Toledo safety Jermaine Robinson. Video footage shows cornerback Chris Dukes pulling Smith down by the back of his shoulder pad as Robinson arrived and shoved Smith in the helmet. Dukes was penalized for a horse-collar tackle. Robinson, who has drawn the ire of Wyoming fans, appeared to have made a clean play.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.
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