Toledo Rockets football

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Toledo Rockets football
2016 Toledo Rockets football team
Toledo Rockets wordmark.svg
First season 1917
Head coach Jason Candle
1st year, 10–4 (.714)
Stadium Glass Bowl
Year built 1936
Seating capacity 26,248
Field surface Field Turf
Location Toledo, Ohio
NCAA division Division I FBS
Conference Mid-American
Division West
Past conferences Independent (1948-1950)
Ohio Athletic Conference (1932–1947)
Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1921–1930)
Independent (1917-1920)
All-time record 502–413–24 (.547)
Bowl record 10–6 (.625)
Conference titles 13
Division titles 6
Consensus All-Americans 2
Colors Midnight Blue and Gold[1]
Fight song U of Toledo
Rivals Bowling Green Falcons
Website Toledo Rockets

The Toledo Rockets football team is a college football program in Division I FBS, representing the University of Toledo. The Rockets compete in the Mid-American Conference. Toledo began playing football in 1917, although it did not field teams in 1931, and 1943-1945. Since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936 Toledo has finished in the Top 25 four times. Its highest finish came in 1970 when it ranked #12 after finishing 12–0–0. The University of Toledo has a 10-6 record in bowl games. The Rockets were the 2015 Boca Roton Bowl champions over #24 ranked Temple. The team's current head coach is Jason Candle.


Early History (1917-1962)[edit]

Toledo first fielded a football team in 1917, under the leadership of John Brandeberry. According to Toledo Rockets lore, the team began when a group of students purchased uniforms from a sporting goods store, then arranged a game against the University of Detroit in order to settle the debt. Brandeberry stepped in to coach the team, which promptly lost the game 145–0 (but settled the debt).[2]

For the first few years Toledo played without a nickname, but was dubbed the "Rockets" after two long touchdown runs in a 1923 loss to Carnegie Tech. That season also saw Toledo win its first conference title.[2]

Clarence Spears served as the Rocket's head coach and athletics director for seven seasons, from 1936-1942. Under his tutelage, the Rockets compiled a record of 38-26-2. which included five consecutive winning seasons.[3]

In two seasons, the Rockets compiled a record of 11-10 under head coach Skip Stahley.[4]

Forrest England served as Toledo's head coach for two seasons in 1954 and 1955, compiling a record of 9–7–2.[5]

Frank Lauterbur era (1963-1970)[edit]

From 1969 through 1971, Toledo won 35 consecutive games, which currently ranks as the fifth-longest winning streak in major college football. Under head coach Frank Lauterbur, the Rockets won 3 Mid-American Conference Championships and won each of their 3 appearances in the Tangerine Bowl during those years. Mel Long, a member of the team for all three years, was named to The AP All-America First Team after the 1971 season. Charles "Chuck" Ealey led the Rockets to all 35 victories as starting quarterback.

John Murphy era (1971-1976)[edit]

John Murphy came to Toledo from NCAA Division III Heidelberg and led the Rockets to an undefeated 12-0 record, a Tangerine Bowl win, and a #14 ranking in the year's final AP poll. From there, the Rockets posted yearly records of 6-5, 3-8, 6-5, 5-6 and 3-8,[6] a steady decline from the success to which the Rockets were accustomed. Murphy was not retained past the 1976 season.[7]

Chuck Stobart era (1977-1981)[edit]

Coach Stobart

Michigan assistant coach and Bo Schembechler disciple Chuck Stobart took over for Murphy as the Rockets head coach in 1977.[8] Under Stobart, the Rockets posted records of 2-9, 2-9, 8-2-1, 4-7 and 9-3 for a total of 25-30-1. The 1981 season culminated in California Bowl win.[9] Stobart's success led to Utah offering Stobart their head coaching position, which he accepted.[10]

Dan Simrell era (1982-1989)[edit]

Rockets alum Dan Simrell was hired to take over the Rockets football program after Stobart's departure.[11] Simrell had the same mediocre, up ad down success of his predecessors, compiling a total record of 49-38-2 in his tenure at his alma mater. The 1984 Rockets reached the California Bowl, which they lost. Simrell posted four winning seasons in eight as the team's head coach. He resigned after the 1989 season.[12]

Nick Saban era (1990)[edit]

Coach Saban

A young, energetic, ambitious coach named Nick Saban was hired as head coach of the Toledo Rockets on December 22, 1989.[13] The Rockets found quick success under Nick Saban, going 9–2 in his only season. The two games the Rockets lost that season were by narrow margins: one point to Central Michigan, and four points to Navy.[14] While at the helm of the Rockets, Saban turned down an application of Urban Meyer, who was looking for a job on his staff as an assistant coach.[15] With the 9–2 season, Toledo was co-champion of the MAC. Saban resigned as Toledo's head coach the following February to become defensive coordinator of the NFL's Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick. Saban would go on to unprecedented success and cement his legacy as one of college football's greatest coaches as a head football coach on the big stage, winning one national championship at LSU and four at Alabama.

Gary Pinkel era (1991-2000)[edit]

Coach Pinkel

Coach Gary Pinkel, a friend and former college teammate of Nick Saban, came to Toledo from his post as offensive coordinator at Washington.[16] The Rockets posted a record of 73-37-3 (.659) in Pinkel's 10 seasons at Toledo,[17] including a 53-23-3 (.690) record in conference. Toledo compiled three West Division titles and the conference championship in 1995.

In the 1995 season, Pinkel's Rockets finished 11-0-1, won the Las Vegas Bowl and finished ranked in the Top 25 (AP Poll).[18] They were one of only three teams in the nation to finish the regular season undefeated. The others were Nebraska and Florida, who played for the national championship.

In 2000, Toledo went to State College to face Penn State and defeated the Nittany Lions 24-6.[19] Pinkel guided Toledo to a 10-1 record that season, 6-1 in conference play.[20] Pinkel left Toledo after the 2000 season to accept the head football coach position at Missouri.[21]

Tom Amstutz era (2001-2008)[edit]

Known as "Toledo Tom", Tom Amstutz was promoted from defensive coordinator, a post he held under Saban and Pinkel, to the Rockets head coach upon Pinkel's departure.[22] Amstutz played for the Rockets from 1974-1976 and was a popular choice among many of the Rockets athletics administration.

Amstutz's tenure started with a bang, with the Rockets winning at least eight games in each of Amstutz's first five seasons. The Rockets made the Motor City Bowl in Amstutz's first two seasons, winning the first then losing the second. The 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons were different, though, as the rockets slid to records of 5-7, 5-7 and 3-9 in those years. However, in 2008, The Rockets upset Michigan in Ann Arbor by a score of 13-10.[23] The Rockets are the first and only MAC Team to beat Michigan.

Amstutz resigned as head coach following the 2008 season.[24] His final record was 58-41.[25]

Tim Beckman era (2009-2011)[edit]

Coach Beckman

On December 4, 2008, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman was hired as the head coach at Toledo. [26] Beckman's teams at Toledo saw consistent improvement. In 2009, his first year as a head coach, his team finished 5–7. The following year, Toledo finished 8–5, earning a berth to the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, which they lost 34–32 to FIU.[27] In 2011, Toledo finished 9–4 to be MAC West Division co-champions with Northern Illinois. This team earned a berth to the 2011 Military Bowl. Beckman left after three seasons to become the head coach for Illinois.[28] Beckman's record at Toledo is 21-16.[29]

Matt Campbell era (2012-2015)[edit]

Toledo made offensive coordinator Matt Campbell the Rockets head coach when Beckman departed for Illinois.[30] He was 32 years old and the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision at the time.[31]

Campbell coached four seasons at Toledo: 2012–2015, amassing a record of 35–15.[32] In 2015, the Rockets upset #18 Arkansas in Little Rock, Toledo's first win vs an SEC team.[33]

Campbell left Toledo after the 2015 season to accept the head coaching position at Iowa State.[34]

Jason Candle era (2016-present)[edit]

The Rockets promoted offensive coordinator Jason Candle to head coach following Campbell's departure.[35]


Bowling Green Falcons[edit]

Toledo and Bowling Green State University have a rivalry, nicknamed "The Battle of I-75", dating back to 1924, when BGSU challenged the participation of Toledo's captain, Gilbert Stick, after it was discovered that Stick also played for a local team in Genoa, Ohio. Conference rules did not prohibit such play, and BGSU's protest was overruled.[2] In 1950, Toledo's athletic director charged BGSU students a higher price for tickets at a basketball game than the general public, while rumors spread of a dog-napping attempt by BGSU against Toledo's mascot.[36] Another incident came in 1951, when a fight broke out after a hard hit by a BGSU player on fullback Mel Triplett. Don Greenwood, then Toledo's coach, participated, and resigned after the university failed to back him up. In Greenwood's view, the officials should have called a penalty for excessive roughness, and he had a duty to protect his players.[2]

Head coaches[edit]


  • Glass Bowl
  • Fetterman Indoor Training Center
  • Larimer Athletic Complex

Bowl history[edit]

Toledo has appeared in 16 NCAA-sanctioned post-season bowl games since 1969, and has a 10–6 record overall.[37][38]

Season Date Played Bowl Game Opponent Result
1969 December 26, 1969 Tangerine Bowl Davidson W 56–33
1970 December 28, 1970 Tangerine Bowl William & Mary W 40–12
1971 December 28, 1971 Tangerine Bowl Richmond W 28–3
1981 December 19, 1981 California Bowl San Jose State W 27–25
1984 December 15, 1984 California Bowl UNLV L 30–13*
1995 December 14, 1995 Las Vegas Bowl Nevada W 40–37
2001 December 29, 2001 Motor City Bowl Cincinnati W 32–16
2002 December 26, 2002 Motor City Bowl Boston College L 51–25
2004 December 27, 2004 Motor City Bowl Connecticut L 39–10
2005 December 21, 2005 GMAC Bowl UTEP W 45–13
2010 December 26, 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl FIU L 34–32
2011 December 28, 2011 Military Bowl Air Force W 42–41
2012 December 15, 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Utah State L 41–15
2014 January 4, 2015 GoDaddy Bowl Arkansas State W 63–44
2015 December 22, 2015 Boca Raton Bowl Temple W 32–17
2016 December 17, 2016 Camellia Bowl Appalachian State L 31–28
Total 16 bowl games 10–6 record
From 1946 through 1949, the Rockets played a post-season game named the Glass Bowl that was played at their stadium. They were 3–1, losing the last game to the Cincinnati Bearcats. Like some other postseason match-ups of the era, such as the Grape Bowl and the Optimist Bowl, results are listed in NCAA records, but the games were not considered NCAA-sanctioned bowls.[39]
^* After the 1984 California Bowl, it was found that UNLV had allegedly used ineligible players during the season. Despite the fact that they were not used in the bowl game, the school forfeited the win, though the NCAA does not recognize the forfeit.

Conference championships[edit]

The Rockets have won 13 conference titles, with 10 of them being during their affiliation with the Mid-American Conference. The highest AP Poll Ranking they have ever finished was #12 at the end of the 1970 season.

Year Conference Coach Overall record
1923 Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association James Dwyer 6–4–0
1927 Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association Boni Petcoff 5–2–0
1929 Northwestern Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association Boni Petcoff 4–2–1
1967 Mid-American Conference Frank Lauterbur 9–1–0
1969 Mid-American Conference Frank Lauterbur 11–0–0
1970 Mid-American Conference Frank Lauterbur 12–0–0
1971 Mid-American Conference John Murphy 12–0–0
1981 Mid-American Conference Chuck Stobart 9–3–0
1984 Mid-American Conference Dan Simrell 8–3–1
1990 Mid-American Conference Nick Saban 9–2–0
1995 Mid-American Conference Gary Pinkel 11–0–1
2001 Mid-American Conference Tom Amstutz 10–2
2004 Mid-American Conference Tom Amstutz 9–4

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of July 21, 2016

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
vs Elon vs VMI at Kentucky at Tulsa at Notre Dame
at Nevada vs Miami (FL) at Colorado State vs Colorado State
vs Tulsa vs Nevada vs BYU
at Miami (FL) at Fresno State



  1. ^ The University of Toledo Logo Graphic Standards Manual (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rothman, Seymour (November 10, 1991). "An intimate, informal, and irreverent look at the early days of UT football". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
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  26. ^ "Toledo hires Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Beckman as coach". Associated Press. December 4, 2008. 
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  31. ^ Porter, Todd (December 12, 2011). "Toledo names Perry grad Matt Campbell head coach". The Repository. Retrieved November 29, 2015. 
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  36. ^ Rothman, Seymour (February 19, 1950). "TU-Bowling Green Rivalry Overheating Rapidly". Toledo Blade. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  37. ^ "Toledo In the Polls". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  38. ^ "Toledo Composite Championship Listing". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  39. ^ "BOWL/ALL STAR GAME RECORDS" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Toledo Rockets Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved 2016-09-19. 

External links[edit]