The Toledo football team ended 2022 with consecutive wins in the Mid-American Conference championship game and the Boca Raton Bowl to wrap a bow and put a cherry on top of a season that had high expectations.
So, now what?
The Rockets have the normal offseason structure — coaches will recruit for the next month, winter workouts will take place, spring practice will take up the month of March and culminate with the spring game in April, then player-led workouts in the summer. But other activities will occur behind the scenes that factor into the 2023 season.
Here are three of Toledo’s top offseason storylines
1. Jason Candle’s contract
Head coach Jason Candle was one of the biggest winners of all in UT’s 2022 season. He became just the third coach in program history to win two outright MAC championships, and he did so just as his contract was running out. One year at $1.2 million remains.
An extension is currently being negotiated, but for how much money and how many years? Both sides are going to want to protect themselves, so any stalemate will come down to which side agrees to more wiggle room. It would behoove the athletic department to acquire Candle’s signature sooner rather than later.
2. The transfer portal giveth and taketh
There are still several months left in the transfer portal season. Don’t forget, wide receiver Matt Landers, who ultimately ended up at Arkansas, didn’t enter the portal until last May. So questions about All-American cornerback Quinyon Mitchell and quarterback Dequan Finn will remain until midway through the summer.
NIL money has changed the calculation, and Toledo has a collective (Friends of Rocky) that is attempting to be a difference-maker in the MAC. Part of that is keeping potential Power Five targets on the roster — and bringing in their own transfers.
The transfer portal doesn’t just act as an exit. It’s an entrance, too. And the Rockets have needs, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
The offensive line has been a weakness the past two seasons and can be addressed with a couple of bodies. The defensive line is losing a ton of production. Solid players remain — Darius Alexander seems poised to break out in 2023 — but there’s an opportunity to supply the D-line with instant impact guys, which could be the case with Missouri transfer Travion Ford.
3. Staff movement
There’s already one open spot on the staff, with Candle opting not to fill former linebackers coach Pat Bastien’s position. Bastien left in August to coach running backs for the New York Jets.
It’s inevitable that one or more jobs on the staff will open. Candle has several members of his staff that are considered up-and-comers. Even established assistants like defensive coordinator Vince Kehres and quarterbacks coach Robert Weiner would be coveted by bigger programs.
Candle has a positive hit rate on assistants and Toledo is a desirable job at the Group of Five level, so filling out a staff shouldn’t be a catastrophic situation.
Nate Brown is the General Manager of Zags Collective, leading the charge to help amplify the opportunities for the Gonzaga student-athletes through NIL partnerships with local charities, fans and businesses. With over a decade of experience in the professional sports industry and as a former business owner in Spokane, Nate is a seasoned professional who knows what it takes to succeed. Most recently, he served as the National Sales Director for a prominent west-coast real estate company, where he was responsible for driving growth and retention. With a deep understanding of sales and marketing, Nate brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and is always seeking innovative ways to drive revenue and create partnerships.With a passion for ensuring the success of student-athletes both on and off the field, Nate is dedicated to providing the necessary resources to keep Gonzaga competitive on the national stage. He understands the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with the community and local businesses, and works to maximize opportunities for Gonzaga’s student-athletes. As the son of two Gonzaga alumni, including a father who was a baseball pitcher and also a coach for the school, Nate has a great connection to the university and a passion for ensuring its continued success. Outside of work, Nate enjoys spending time with family, including his wife Jessica and their 16-year-old daughter Brooklynn and 12-year-old son Marcus. When not working or spending time with family, you can find Nate at any one of the amazing golf courses in Spokane, honing his swing!
Mike Smith joined Micconope 1851 in March 2023 and is excited to be the General Manager and looks forward to working with Blueprint Sports increase NIL revenue generation for Florida State University student-athletes. Smith comes to Micconope 1851 from Catawba College where he held the title as the Senior Director of Athletics, Development. Prior to working in Athletics at Catawba College, Mike served as the Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at Charleston Southern University. Smith has an impressive background in the collegiate athletics industry, having held senior level development and corporate sponsorship sales roles at The University of Southern Mississippi, Limestone University, the Sun Belt Conference, Florida Atlantic University, and with multimedia rights-holders Tele South Communications at the University of Mississippi, Learfield Sports at UNC Chapel Hill, and with International Sports Properties at Georgia Tech. Smith is a graduate of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and holds a master’s degree in Business Management from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his new role here at Micconppe 1851, Smith will be responsible for raising major gifts for NIL deals as well as securing NIL corporate sponsorships for Florida State University student-athletes. Mike looks forward to helping ensure the FSU student-athletes have the resources and leadership opportunities to remain competitive nationally and positioned for success well beyond graduation. Mike is married to Katy Smith; the couple looks forward to relocating to Tallahassee, Florida, and becoming a part of the Micconope 1851 and Seminole family!