Toledo and Appalachian State fans were eager to learn their bowl destination as the first week of December drew near.
Head coaches Jason Candle and Scott Satterfield were just as eager, but each felt a little nervous as they realized their teams were on a collision course in the third annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
“About three weeks ago, when we found this out, we called each other and said, ‘Hey, are we playing each other?’ ‘Yeah, we’re playing each other,’” said Satterfield, the fourth-year coach at Appalachian State. “So that part of it is friendship but once we play, he’s trying to win, I’m trying to win.”
It’s a friendship that goes back to their days at Toledo in 2009. Candle, who had played and coached at Mount Union, was hired to coach receivers at Toledo by new coach Tim Beckham. Satterfield, who had played and coached at Appalachian State, was hired as a co-offensive coordinator in charge of the passing game.
“Matt Campbell and I were co-offensive coordinators there,” Satterfield said. “We had an outstanding staff there, really worked well together. Jason is a really, really good football coach and I learned a lot from Matt, from him, from all the guys on the football staff. We’ve kept in touch since I left and still talk.”
Satterfield would get an opportunity the next season to serve as offensive coordinator at Florida International, returning in 2012 to Appalachian State as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in Jerry Moore’s final season with the Mountaineers.
Candle, meanwhile, remained with the Rockets, rising to offensive coordinator in 2012 after Campbell became the head coach and to associate head coach in 2014.
Despite the constant changes in their lives, Campbell, Candle and Satterfield stayed in touch, forming a bond in that one season at Toledo and the famous noon-time basketball games against the coaching staff.
“Scott is a tremendous human being,” Candle said. “In coaching, you always want to gravitate yourself to good people. He’s got a great wife in Beth and three good kids in Bryce, Isaac and Alli. I don’t know how old they are now but they were little ones when he was at Toledo with us. He is a good family man and someone who is well respected in our profession.”
When Campbell left to take the head coaching position at Iowa State and Candle was promoted to head coach of the Rockets, one of the first phone calls he made was to Satterfield. The former was preparing for his first game as a head coach in the GoDaddy Bowl and the latter was preparing for his first bowl game in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
“Over the years, we’ll talk some offensive and defensive schemes, that type of stuff, just in general terms,” Satterfield said.
“When he got the head coaching job last year, he called and we talked a little about when I got the job at App, kind of the things we did initially. We just bounce ideas.
“Throughout the season, we probably talk once or twice, but it’s really just checking in. ‘How are things going?’ That kind of thing. Just friendly talk.”
The conversation must have worked. Candle’s Toledo team defeated Arkansas State, while Satterfield’s Mountaineers defeated Ohio.
“We talk a lot about a lot of things,” Candle said. “Unfortunately, you can’t go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a book and say here’s how to be a Division I-A football coach. You’ve got to try and use resources wisely and reach out to people that you know and trust, people that you respect, people that you know do it the right way.”
Now, as the bowl bids were being handed out, Louisiana-Lafayette was the choice of the New Orleans Bowl, which selected first, and Troy was the choice of the Dollar General Bowl, which selected second. That left Sun Belt co-champion Appalachian State as the best team still available for the Camellia Bowl staff and a 9-3 Mountaineer team was the perfect pairing for a 9-3 Toledo team.
Like it or now, the two friends would be facing each other.
“As we’re coming down to this deal and there’s a chance you’ve got to play each other, you don’t like playing your friends because you still have to go out there and try to win the football game,” Satterfield said.
Candle, asked the same question, said it was more satisfying to beat your friends than your enemies.
Satterfield, confronted with that response, laughed and revised his outlook.
“It’s bragging rights for the rest of the time,” he said. “And, right now, I’m 1-0 in bowl games against Coach Candle. I was at FIU (in 2010) when we played Toledo in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (and won 34-32) so hopefully he won’t even the score.”