Our coaching status report series was originally scheduled for just the duration of last week. But I moved last week and, uh, yeah. It’s now a 2-week series! Let’s get it back going with a look at the MAC.

Previous status reports: American, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA

Movin’ On Up

Jason Candle, Toledo
Tenure: 17-5, 10-2 MAC
This year: 7-1, 4-0 MAC

Matt Campbell has been the coaching star of this season, but Campbell’s 37-year-old successor has been just as successful. Toledo’s only loss came at undefeated Miami, and three of the Rockets’ four MAC wins have come by at least 20 points. This doesn’t project to be a particularly active year in the Big Ten’s middle class, but Candle has moved to the front of the line on the MAC-to-B1G coaching conveyor belt whenever it rumbles back to life.

Hangin’ Out, Doing His Thing

Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Tenure: 42-21, 30-6 MAC
This year: 6-2, 4-0 MAC

After a disastrous 2016 season — NIU started 3-7  before limping to wins over Eastern Michigan and Kent State to close 5-7 — this year’s club looks more on track. P.J. Fleck’s pulsating star sucked the attention away from Northern Illinois, but with Fleck gone, the Huskies are again near the top of the MAC West. NIU’s wins haven’t come as convincingly as Toledo’s — a very fortunate blocked punt salvaged a win from what looked like a certain loss at home against Eastern Michigan — but Carey does own a win over Nebraska. Still, NIU’s 4-0 start has come against against a schedule that is a combined 3-14 in MAC play. The competition stiffens in the second half of the conference slate, beginning Thursday night at Toledo. Carey only has one more season under contract. November means everything for him; a successful month would cement an extension, an unsuccessful one would change everything. This will be a fascinating team to watch.

Reverting to Form?

Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
Tenure: 12-33, 5-23 MAC
This year: 2-6, 0-4 MAC

Creighton won three games total in his first two season at Eastern Michigan, then leaped forward to a 7-6 mark with an appearance in the Bahamas Bowl last season. The Eagles did beat Rutgers this season, and three of their setbacks have come in overtime — including one to Northern Illinois on Thursday. Creighton is an excellent ball coach; but given this place’s history, Eastern Michigan should treat last season’s bowl appearance like other schools treat conference titles.

It’s Taken a While, But the Corner May Be Turning

Lance Leipold, Buffalo
Tenure: 10-23, 5-16 MAC
This year: 3-6, 1-4 MAC

Then-AD Danny White made a bold move in late 2014 when he pulled Leipold away from Division III powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater. It couldn’t have been on either side’s radar that Leipold would be in Year 3 and still struggling to compete in the MAC East. The Bulls aren’t far from turning the corner, though: they fell by 10 at Minnesota, four at Army, by one to Northern Illinois and Akron, and came in on the wrong end of a seven overtime marathon with Western Michigan.

Time to Re-Evaluate?

Mike Jinks, Bowling Green
Tenure: 5-15, 4-8 MAC
This year: 1-7, 1-3 MAC

Jinks had no college coordinator or head coaching experience and no experience outside of Texas when he was plucked away after two decades in the Texas high school ranks and three seasons on Kliff Kingsbury’s staff. This one has been an awkward fit from the start.

Paul Haynes, Kent State

Tenure: 14-41, 9-26 MAC
This year: 2-6, 1-3 MAC

Haynes is a good man in a tough spot. There will be better days ahead both for Haynes and the program; but the two likely might not happen together.

 

SHARE
National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.