If you were to design a coach for a certain type of job, you'd have Jason Candle in mind. He's the right age -- Candle will turn 40 next month. He's got the right pedigree -- an Ohio native who played, coached and coordinated at Mount Union. He's got the right experience -- a 32-15 record with a MAC championship in three and a half seasons at Toledo.
And he's got the right contract.
Candle, then Toledo's assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, ascended to the Rockets' head job when Matt Campbell left for Iowa State. Following a 9-4 debut and an 11-3, MAC championship season in 2017, he was extended through 2023 with a salary bump from $650,000 to over $1 million. He earned $1.1 million in 2018 with $25,000 raises built in annually.
Candle's buyout should he leave for another job increased by 50 percent, but only from $300,000 to $450,000.
If you're, say, a Big Ten team paying $9 million to your former head coach, a $450,000 buyout to get a 40-year-old head coach with 32 wins already on his resume sounds appetizing to you.
The question, though, is if Candle would leave Toledo for a Rutgers, an Illinois or any other low-level Big Ten job. Those schools undoubtedly pay better than Toledo can, but Candle already makes more than a million dollars a year to coach football three hours from his home town, at a place where he's worked for a decade straight, in his home state.
Do you cash that in to take the seventh best job in a 7-team division?
Candle presumably has designs on one day taking one of the Big Five jobs in the midwest -- Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan State, in whatever order you like -- but it's up in the air whether any of those schools would hire a coach directly from the MAC. Urban Meyer (Bowling Green to Utah) and Brian Kelly (Central Michigan to Cincinnati) still had another rung on the ladder to climb in between the MAC and the big time.
So, if that turns out to be the case with Candle, here's a theory for you: Candle seems perfectly primed to replace whomever is in line ahead of him on the FBS totem poll -- like, say, Luke Fickell at Cincinnati or, to bring it full circle, Matt Campbell at Iowa State.
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