Monday, Oct 22, 2018
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Candle could become hot coaching commodity

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    This season, UT coach Jason Candle led the Rockets to their first MAC championship since 2004.


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    Toledo head coach Jason Candle is doused with Gatorade by cornerback Trevon Mathis and running back Terry Swanson as the Rockets won the Mid-American Conference title.



With a Mid-American Conference title to his name as well as league coach of the year honors this season, University of Toledo head coach Jason Candle has become a name to watch as coaching positions open up this offseason.

In his second season as head coach at Toledo, the 38-year-old led the Rockets to an 11-2 record and a MAC championship Saturday when the team beat Akron 45-28 in the title game at Detroit’s Ford Field.

Toledo will play Appalachian State in the Dollar General Bowl on Dec. 23 in Mobile, Ala.

If Candle were to move on, the budding young coach would follow in the footsteps of many who moved up the coaching ladder after such success at the MAC level.

His name has emerged in the University of Central Florida’s search for a new head coach after Scott Frost left to coach at Nebraska. According to a report from Ryan Bass of the CBS affiliate in Tampa, Candle was set to interview for the vacant UCF job Monday. The Blade could not confirm if any interview took place, but the Orlando Sentinel also reported Candle is a candidate for the job.

The Golden Knights are 12-0 this season, won the American Athletic Conference, and will play in the Jan. 1 Peach Bowl vs. Auburn. Frost is expected to coach in that game.

In a situation similar to the one Candle is now in, P.J. Fleck made the move from Western Michigan to Minnesota last offseason after the Broncos won a MAC championship and Fleck earned coach of the year honors in 2016.

Toledo and the MAC have long been breeding grounds for young coaches who move on to success at larger football programs.

Most recently for Toledo, Matt Campbell took the head job at Iowa State after posting a 10-2 record in 2015. Campbell won Big 12 coach of the year honors this season after leading the Cyclones to a 7-5 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the Big 12.

When Tim Beckman led Toledo to the West Division title and a 9-4 record in 2011, he made the move to Illinois.

More famously, when Gary Pinkel and the Rockets finished 10-1 in 2000 and shared the West title, Pinkel went on to coach Missouri the next season, where he became that program’s all-time wins leader.

After Frank Lauterbur led the Rockets to undefeated seasons in 1969 and 1970 and was MAC coach of the year both seasons, he left to become the head coach at Iowa.

Among other factors, the pay jump between coaching in the MAC and a Power Five conference team or larger Group of Five school often is substantial and it becomes enticing for coaches at schools like Toledo to get what often is a significant pay raise.

According to his contract, Candle earned $425,000 in base salary from UT this season, plus $250,000 in annual marketing compensation. He then is eligible for incentive bonuses, which have amounted so far this season to around $120,000.

As a means of comparison, according to USA Today’s 2017 coaching salaries database, UCF paid Frost a base salary of $2 million in 2017.

P.J. Fleck made $3.5 million at Minnesota this season after making a base salary of $820,360 in 2016 with Western Michigan.

Candle recently signed a contract extension with UT through the 2021 season. Under his contract, should he accept employment elsewhere before the termination of the contract, he would owe UT a buyout of $600,000.

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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