3 Toledo football offseason storylines after the 2022 season

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.