Mid-American Conference

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Toledo, Jason Candle reach agreement on contract extension

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After just one year on the job, Jason Candle has earned himself some additional job security — or a bigger golden parachute should he be canned.

Toledo announced Wednesday that the university and its head football coach have reached an agreement on a contract extension.  Candle is now signed through 2021, meaning he received a one-year extension of his original five-year deal agreed to in December of 2015.

There was no word on what if any financial bump was included in the reworked contract.  Candle’s $675,000 salary in 2016 was second to Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck ($820,000) in the MAC.  With Fleck now at Minnesota, Candle is likely the highest-paid coach in the conference.

“Jason has played a very important part of the success of our football program over the last eight years, first as an assistant coach and now as head coach,” said athletic director Mike O’Brien in a statement. “He is a tremendous leader and teacher of young men, and has a great desire to elevate our football program to even greater heights. We look forward to his leadership for many years to come.”

Candle spent seven seasons as a Toledo assistant, the last four as offensive coordinator, before taking over the program after Matt Campbell left for the Iowa State job.  In his first year as head coach, Candle guided the Rockets to a 9-4 record.

“I’m very appreciative of the support and confidence that President Gaber and Mike O’Brien have in me and my staff,” said Candle. “Our program is built on a strong foundation of success, and we are focused on bringing a Mid-American Conference Championship to this great University.”

Syracuse lands Toledo corner as graduate transfer

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The graduate transfer train continues to chug along, with an ACC program the latest to see a player pull into its station.

Jordan Martin (pictured, middle) confirmed to the Syracuse Post-Standard Sunday night that he has decided to transfer from Toledo to Syracuse.  As the cornerback is expected to be coming to the Orange as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to suit up for Dino Babers‘ squad for the 2017 season, his final year of eligibility.

Martin’s quotes from his talk with the Post-Standard:

The process went pretty smoothly. Upon asking for my release from Toledo, I wanted to get my film out to as many schools as possible. I was familiar with Coach (Dino) Babers from him coaching in the MAC conference and (Bowling Green) being our rival school.

“They saw my film and brought me up for a visit. I loved the environment and the love I received from the coaching staff as well as the academic department. It’s a great school and they play some great teams, their schedule next year is hefty so it was pretty easy making my decision to play for them.

Including a 2015 season that saw him miss the entire year because of injury injury, Martin started 13 games the past three years.  Five of those starts came in 2016, with all of those coming in the last five games of the season.

Jim Harbaugh one of three elected to Senior Bowl Hall of Fame

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Three decades after playing in the game, Jim Harbaugh is being forever immortalized by the preeminent college football all-star game.

The Senior Bowl announced Thursday that Harbaugh is one of three players to be inducted into the game’s 29th Hall of Fame class.  The Michigan head coach will be joined in this year’s class by former Ball State Cardinal and NFL safety Blaine Bishop and former Arizona Wildcat and NFL linebacker Lance Briggs.

Harbaugh played in the 1987 version of the Senior Bowl before he was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.

“Jim Harbaugh’s love of competition was displayed on the field during his playing days at Michigan and over his 15 years in the National Football League,” a statement from Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage began. “Now, he is recognized as one of the best coaches in the game, having achieved noteworthy success at both the college and professional levels.”

Both Harbaugh and Briggs spent extensive time with the Bears, the former for seven years (1987-93) and the latter for all 12 years of his NFL career (2003-14).  Bishop spent nine of his 10 years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans (1993-2001).  He finished off his time in the NFL in 2002 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

That trio pushes the total number of Senior Bowl Hall of Famers to 114.  To put that into perspective, more than 5,000 players have played in the senior Bowl since its inception nearly seven decades ago.

MAC football media days heading to Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton

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The MAC is heading to Canton, Ohio for its annual media day this summer. The conference has recently set up shop in Detroit’s Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, but is shifting venues this summer as the NFL stadium will be undergoing renovations this offseason.

The conference is moving its summer media day event to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which should serve as a nice setting for the conference to showcase its members to the football world. The MAC media days are scheduled for July 25-26, which will be a little too early for the conference to feed off of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony and festivities, but Canton is still a worthy location for the conference given its football background, and location. Half of the conference’s members reside in the state of Ohio (Akron, Bowling Green, Kent State, Miami, Ohio and Toledo).

The MAC will hope to feed off a season that saw Western Michigan come off an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl.

The Sporting News originally reported the news of the location change. The conference later confirmed the news on its Twitter account.

Northern Illinois hires Steve Crutchley as wide receivers coach

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Northern Illinois has hired Steve Crutchley as its wide receivers coach, the program announced Tuesday.

The majority of Crutchley’s collegiate coaching experience came in the Land of Lincoln; he was the running backs coach at Southern Illinois from 2008-12 and an assistant at Western Illinois from 2013-15. He spent the 2016 season as the head coach at Eau Claire Memorial High School in Wisconsin.

“I’m really excited about bringing Steve to NIU as part of our coaching staff,” NIU head coach Rod Carey said in a statement.  “I’ve known him for 17 years.  I respected him as a player first and have watched his coaching career closely.  I know he’s going to bring a lot to us – from knowledge about the state of Illinois from his time at Southern Illinois and Western Illinois, to on-field coaching and recruiting. As a person, he’s as good as they come; he’s a quality individual who will relate to our players and to recruits really well.”

Crutchley arrives at a crucial time for the Carey and the Huskies. A program that ascended to the Orange Bowl upon Carey’s promotion to head coach has dipped from 12-2 in 2013, to 11-3 in ’14, to 8-6 in ’15 and finally to 5-7 last fall.

“NIU Football has been a great program, it has great tradition and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Crutchley said. “It’s a program I’ve followed throughout my coaching career.  I’ve known Coach Carey for a long time from his days at Wisconsin-Stout when I was at Eau Claire. I’m a Midwest guy, and this is close to home in Wisconsin so it’s a good fit for me and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Northern Illinois finished 73rd nationally in passing last season, averaging 224 yards per game through the air. Christian Blake, a rising senior, stands as the team’s leading returning wideout with 34 grabs for 457 yards and two touchdowns.