'Group of Five' countdown, No. 1: Jason Candle, Toledo


Toledo coach Jason Candle celebrates with his players after they defeated Temple 32-17 in the Boca Raton Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

Toledo coach Jason Candle celebrates with his players after they defeated Temple 32-17 in the Boca Raton Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper) by Joe Skipper (AP Photo)

Paul Brown, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, Chuck Knoll and Don Shula, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops, Ara Parseghian and Jim Tressel, football coaching giants, every one of them.

The best college football coach you never heard of, who just might be the best college coach, period, also is from Ohio and boasts a .929 winning percentage, best at any division of college football among those who have coached at least 100 games.

Larry Kehres, retired after the 2012 season with a 332-24-3 record, 11 national titles and 10 undefeated seasons in 27 years at University of Mount Union where he is now the athletic director and the boss of his son the football coach, Vince Kehres, who has a 70-4 record (.946).

Everything about Ohio screams football, from the gray skies to the grounded, sports-crazed people who can trend toward gruffness around the edges. The area on both sides of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, where collars are blue, skin thick, is a particularly fertile coaching region. Mark Mangino, KU's lone winning head coach of the 21st century, is from New Castle, Pa.

There are those in and around the game who whisper that the next two great football coaches not only are Ohio-born but also branches of the fruitful Larry Kehres coaching tree.

Which brings us to:

No. 1 — Jason Candle, Toledo

Age: 38 Record at school: 21-7 Overall record: 21-7 Impressive win: vs. No. 24 Temple, 32-17, Marmot Boca Raton Bowl

Why he's on the list: Iowa State already scooped up Matt Campbell, 38, who in his second season in Ames coached the Cyclones to an 8-5 record, this at a school that had not won more than three games for four seasons in a row.

Campbell came to the Big 12 from Toledo, where he went 35-15 and had the Rockets ranked No. 20 in the country in 2015.

Campbell took Candle with him to Iowa State, for about a day. Candle went back to Toledo as head coach, where he took over for the bowl game and called plays from the press box.

A native of Salem, Ohio, Candle, never lost a game in two seasons as a wide receiver at Mount Union, after spending his first two seasons at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., hometown of New York Jets great Joe Namath.

This past season, Candle coached the Rockets to a 10-3 record and their first MAC championship since 2004. The Rockets ran out of fuel by the time the Dollar General Bowl arrived and lost to Appalachian State, 34-0, but that didn’t taint Candle’s growing reputation. Toledo ranks 29th in the nation in rushing and 26th in passing.

Campbell and Candle remain close.

“Jason’s got a great mind for the game of football, playing together then working together at Mount Union, then bringing him when I got the beach coaching job (at Toledo), for us I think it was great because we were so similar in terms of our tree and how we learned the game of football,” Campbell said at Big 12 Media Day.

No. 2 — Willie Fritz, Tulane

No. 3 — Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic

No. 4 — Jeff Monken, Army

No. 5 — Troy Calhoun, Air Force

No. 6— Craig Bohl, Wyoming

No. 7 — Neal Brown, Troy

No. 8 — Bryan Harsin, Boise State

No. 9 — Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State

No. 10 — Blake Anderson, Arkansas State


Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

I knew it. He's young, good experience, comes from a winning ex-coach and Candle is a proven winner.

Tom Keegan 10 months, 1 week ago

I believe you and a couple of others predicted this early.

Kevin Robert Fest 10 months, 1 week ago

What are the ch chances KUFB might go with him or any of those listed? Or go off board.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

True. Great coach. And likely too good to come here. He can stay in Toldeo a year or two more and My guess is he holds out for a Big 10 or Big East job. Maybe when Lovie Smith gets canned at Illinois or maybe head to Mich St when D'Antonio gets canned this year for his part in the Mich St sexual assault coverup.

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

He'd come here. He's making a little over a 1M. KU gets him, bumps up pay to 2-2.5M. Matt Campbell went to ISU...why not Candle to KU?

John Fitzgerald 10 months, 1 week ago

They'd love to create a KU-ISU rivalry in football. We already know it's there in basketball.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

Good point Jason. You may be right.

Len Shaffer 10 months, 1 week ago

Another reason he may want to come to KU is that it's pretty much a no-lose situation. If he doesn't do well, people will say, "Well, it's KU, what do you expect?" But if he succeeds, the sky will be the limit for other job possibilities.

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

I'd like to see either Candle or Scott Satterfield hired. Both young and able to turn our program fairly quick. Don't mess up the next hire Long.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 10 months, 1 week ago

He's likely on anyone's short list. My only reservation is he's only been a head coach for two years and hasn't been tasked with turning around a program.
Willie Fritz has more experience at both (and I'm sure KU will be looking for successful head coaching experience in their next hire, not failed head coaches or coordinators).

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

I'm sure he'd come because he is from the area The red flag that stands out to me is the time he has spent at each school..not long with the exception of Central Missouri.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

Karen -- this could be Fritz's last stop if he is paid well for doing good work. He has ties to the area. Would become KING if he turns KU around and starts beating the Kitties year after year when Snyder resigns. He could coach here 10-15 years and then have an heir apparent in place. Keep Hull and Riley and sh%t can the rest of the staff.

Gary Amble 10 months, 1 week ago

Was Terry Allen the coach who told Darren Sproles he was too small to play D-1 football?

Bville Hawk 10 months, 1 week ago

Don't know about Sproles, but he was the coach who didn't start Kurt Warner until he was a senior.

Lance Cheney 10 months, 1 week ago

Am I the only one that is curious about this Vince Kehres (70-4)? What's his story? Seems like a good coach...

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

Mt Union is a D3 school. They do have an interesting history of producing good coaches. Not sure how D3 or D2 coaches translate into D1. Terry Allen was a D2 and was very good, but failed miserably when at KU.Good point though.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

Terry Allen was not D2 at UNI. He was 1-AA. Big difference. When he was hired he had a 90-10 record. He just Peter Principled.

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

ahhh. thanks, yes, he really did Peter Principled. lol.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

BUT -- he was 20-33 at KU -- I would KILL for that record now. We all would. Look how far we have fallen.

John Fitzgerald 10 months, 1 week ago

Well, I was finally right on something. Jason Candle comes in at number 1. Great list Tom. I'll be curious if any of these guys will be on Long's list if Beaty is fired at some point in the year.

Also, had Tait on our Hawk Jock podcast last night to talk basketball. When can we get you on our podcast to talk some football, Tom? Hit me up on Twitter if you're interested - The Fitz @FitzDaddy85.

Kevin Robert Fest 10 months, 1 week ago

Hey there is this coach, has anyone heard of him,? He coached at Notre Dame, was OC for the New England Patriots and U of Florida. I think his name is Charlie Weis, does any one know anything about him. Someone to think about.

Chris DeWeese 10 months, 1 week ago

I couldn't agree more. Jason Candle would be a great hire.

Bryson Stricker 10 months, 1 week ago

Regardless of my support for David Beaty and this series you did. If we landed this hire at any point, it would be a mfin home run. I think Fritz would be a better option and fit for KU but Candle is the best non-p5 coach rn.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

Bryson - I agree with you. Seriously. Good take. Enjoy your weekend.

David Robinett 10 months, 1 week ago

I like the youth of Candle, but at this point the turnaround is more important than the longevity of our next coach. So perhaps Fritz is the answer.

Bville Hawk 10 months, 1 week ago

Fritz is the answer for the reason you state. Couldn't agree more.

Dane Pratt 10 months, 1 week ago

I’m not sure how much value one can place on the impressive win category. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Turner Gill beat Georgia Tech, Charlie Weis beat West Virginia and David Beaty beat Texas. That said, Craig Bohl beat number 13 Boise State while at NDSU as a D2 team. Also wrecked Turner Gills debut in Lawrence, and beat Minnesota, K-State and Iowa State on the road. I don’t know if he’ll be able to recruit but the guy knows how to prepare his team for battle.

Bryan Mohr 10 months, 1 week ago

Keegan, are you going to have a "Power 5" countdown?

Dane Pratt 10 months, 1 week ago

Nice list Tom. I wouldn’t say no to any of them but it seems more likely our next head coach will come from a list of experienced P5 head coaches. That’s what Jeff Long has hired in the past and I have to suspect that is who he has his eyes on.

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