Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Having guided the Rockets to an eighth-place finish in FBS total offense, Toledo offensive coordinator Matt Campbell had two choices: he could follow his former head coach Tim Beckman to Illinois, or take over as the Rockets head coach himself.
Monday night, Campbell made his choice official, electing to remain in Toledo and serve as the program's 26th head coach. At just 32 years old, the Ohio native and alumnus of powerhouse Division III program Mount Union become the youngest coach in the FBS by nearly three years over newly-hired Memphis head coach Justin Fuente.
"Honestly, there's no place I'd rather be than right here at the University of Toledo," Campbell said. "My goal and dream has always been to be a head football coach, and I think coach Beckman knew that. I think he understood that."
Both current Rockets and recent graduates of Beckman's revitalized program praised the move.
"With how our program was being run, you don't want someone coming in and destroying the momentum that the Toledo football program is building," Arizona Cardinals wide receiver (and 2009 Rocket) Stephen Williams told the Toledo Blade. "[Campbell] has been around. He knows where everything is going. He's a lot like coach Beckman, but he knows the direction he wants to take this program in, especially offensively."
In four years under Campbell and Beckman, the Rockets improved steadily in the win-loss column but took a pair of giant leaps forward in offensive production. After finishing 84th in total offense under previous head coach Tom Amstutz in 2008, Toledo surged all the way to 13th in Campbell's first season. An inexperienced offense meant a slide back to 74th in 2010, but Campbell turned things around to the tune of top-10 finishes in both total and scoring offense in 2011.
Campbell will still have work to do to fix an often porous defense (76th in total D) and break through to the Rockets' first MAC title since 2004. But given his offensive track record and enthusiasm for the job, he'll have at least as good a shot at it as any other candidate the Toledo administration might have selected.