Interim head football coach named, search launched

November 29, 2015 | Athletics, News
By Paul Helgren

University of Toledo Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien announced that Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jon Heacock will serve as the Rockets’ interim head football coach, replacing Matt Campbell who was named the new head coach at Iowa State University today.

O’Brien said that a national search for Campbell’s permanent replacement will begin immediately.

“We wish Matt and his family the very best in their future life at Iowa State,” O’Brien said. “Matt did an outstanding job in his seven years with the Rockets, four as the head coach. His leadership of the student-athletes on our football team has been exemplary, and he leaves our football program in very good shape for our next head coach.



“We will begin our search for a new head coach immediately. There is no timetable for the hiring, but obviously with recruiting coming up, we want to move quickly. In the meantime, we are pleased that Jon Heacock will be leading our team on an interim basis. Jon has done a great job guiding our defense the past two years, and we look forward to his leadership as we prepare for a bowl game.”

O’Brien added that Campbell indicated that the current Toledo assistant coaches will be available to coach the Rockets for their bowl game. Toledo’s bowl assignment will be announced Sunday, Dec. 6.

Campbell, who turns 36 years old today, was 35-15 in four seasons as head coach of the Rockets, 24-8 in Mid-American Conference play. The Rockets were 9-2 this season, and were ranked as high as No. 19 by the Associated Press at one point this year.

Campbell also served as the Rockets’ offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011 under former head coach Tim Beckman. Campbell took over as head coach after Beckman assumed the head coaching position at Illinois. Campbell’s first game as head coach was a 42-41 victory over Air Force in the 2011 Military Bowl. Campbell also led UT to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2012 and to the GoDaddy Bowl last season. The Rockets triumphed in the GoDaddy Bowl, 63-44, over Arkansas State.

Heacock, a 31-year veteran of the college football coaching ranks, has helped shape Toledo’s defense into one of the best in the Mid-American Conference. The Rockets rank No. 1 in the MAC scoring defense (21.1 points per game) and second in rushing defense (115.5 yards per game) this season. In 2014, the Rockets were No. 1 in the MAC in rushing defense (116.2 yards per game) after ranking fifth in that category (170.4) in 2013, as well as ranking seventh in scoring defense (28.6 points per game), the season prior to Heacock’s arrival.

A former graduate assistant at UT under Dan Simrell in 1983, Heacock returned to Toledo in 2014 after spending one season as the defensive backs coach at Purdue. Prior to that, he was the defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Kent State in 2011 and 2012.

Prior to joining KSU in 2011, Heacock spent nine seasons as the head coach at Youngstown State, which included a 2006 run to the national semifinals in the Football Championship Subdivision. He was named the Gateway Conference Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006, and ended his tenure with a 60-44 overall record. He also was named the American Football Coaches Association’s Division I-AA Region Four Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006, and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award.

In addition to serving as the head coach at YSU, Heacock served as the Penguins’ defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel for six years (1992 to 1996, 2000) and defensive backs coach for an additional year (1991), which included Division I-AA national championships in 1991, 1993 and 1994. In between his stints on the YSU staff, Heacock served as the defensive coordinator at Indiana from 1997 to 1999.

A native of Beloit, Ohio, Heacock graduated from West Branch High School in 1979. He played college football at Muskingum College, graduating in 1983 with a degree in health and physical education.

Heacock, 55, and his wife Trescia, a registered nurse, have two children, son Jace and daughter Adelyn.

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