Tom Amstutz Will Step Down as Head Football Coach at End of This Season; Accepts New Position in UT Alumni Office
TOLEDO, OH - University of Toledo head football coach Tom Amstutz announced today that he will step down as head football coach at the end of this season and will assume a position with the University as the director of special projects in the Alumni Relations Office beginning in January.
The Rockets have four more games left to play this season, including Wednesday night’s contest at Akron. The season finale is Nov. 28 vs. Bowling Green at the Glass Bowl.
"I felt the time was right for me to announce that I will be passing the torch at the end of the season and moving on to some new challenges," said Amstutz, 53, a UT alumnus who has spent almost 33 years at UT as a player, assistant coach and head coach. "I love the University of Toledo and have enjoyed my eight seasons as head football coach. I now look forward to continue serving UT in my new capacity in the Alumni Office.
"I enjoyed every aspect of being a head coach. I will remember sharing great victories with the players, singing the UT fight song and passing around championship trophies with them. But I also remember encouraging them after tough losses, telling them I still believed in them and was still proud of them."
UT Athletic Director Mike O’Brien praised Amstutz’s accomplishments as a coach and as a mentor.
"Tom Amstutz has been one of the most successful football coaches in the history of Toledo football, and he leaves behind a legacy of tremendous accomplishments on the field," said O’Brien. "But Tom has been more than just a football coach to our players. He genuinely cares about them as individuals and is committed to their development as young men.
"We thank Tom for his many years of excellence in the University of Toledo football program and wish him well in his new role at UT."
O’Brien added that a national search for a new head coach would begin immediately.
Amstutz has compiled a 57-38 record in his eight seasons as head coach, winning Mid-American Conference championships in 2001 and 2004, and MAC West Division crowns in 2002 and 2005. He led his team to four bowl appearances, including victories in the 2001 Motor City Bowl and the 2005 GMAC Bowl.
Amstutz has had five wins over Top 25 teams, including back-to-back gems over No. 22 Northern Illinois and No. 24 Bowling Green in 2004. His teams have beaten numerous schools from the Big Ten and other larger conferences, most recently a 13-10 victory over Michigan on Oct. 11. Other wins over notable schools were Minnesota (2001), Navy (2001), Cincinnati (2001), Pittsburgh (2003), Kansas (2006) and Iowa State (2007).
During Amstutz’s tenure as head coach, 11 Rockets have played or are currently active in the NFL, including a pair of players selected in the 2008 NFL Draft, OL John Greco and RB Jalen Parmele.
In his first season, in 2001, Amstutz led the Rockets to a MAC championship, a Motor City Bowl title and a No. 22 final ranking. He followed up his rookie season by guiding the Rockets to another MAC West title and a return visit to the Motor City Bowl in 2002. In 2003, the Rockets went 8-4 and fought to the final whistle of the final game in an effort to claim their third straight division crown.
In 2004, Amstutz led his team to a 9-4 mark and his second MAC Championship title. He also added a third trip to the Motor City Bowl game in four seasons. In 2005, the Rockets went 9-3, culminating with a thrilling 44-41 double-overtime victory over Bowling Green to close out the regular season, and a convincing romp over UTEP in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, AL.
Except for a three-year stint as an assistant at Navy from 1987-89, Amstutz has lived in the Toledo area his entire life. He attended Whitmer High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and track. During his high school days, he also was a big fan of the UT football teams that went 35-0 from 1969-71.
Amstutz enrolled at UT in 1973 and eventually earned a spot on the football team in his sophomore year in 1974 under Head Coach Jack Murphy. He started seven games at offensive guard in his junior season, and lettered again in his senior year.
Amstutz stayed on as a student assistant for the 1977 season while he completed work on his bachelor’s degree in physical education. The following season, Head Coach Chuck Stobart added Amstutz to his staff, assigning him to coach the offensive tackles and tight ends. Later, Amstutz moved to the defensive line and stayed on the defensive side of the ball for the rest of his days as an assistant.
Amstutz left Toledo in 1987 to join Elliot Uzelac’s staff at Navy. He stayed at Navy for three seasons, returning to Toledo in 1990 under new Head Coach Nick Saban.
Amstutz remained on the Toledo staff when Gary Pinkel took over as head coach in 1991. Amstutz was elevated to defensive coordinator in 1994 and assistant head coach in 1999. Amstutz’s final season as defensive coordinator was a memorable one. Under his leadership, the 2000 Rockets’ defense ranked third in the nation in points allowed (11.4 ppg) and total defense (269.0 yds/game), and fifth in rushing defense (81.5 yds/game). The Rockets also were first in the country in turnover ratio (+2.0 turnovers per game). They had three shutouts, and held their opponents to 14 points or less seven times.
The performance of Toledo’s defense in 2000 was typical under Amstutz. The Rockets’ defense often was ranked as one of the best in the MAC under his guidance. In 1999, Amstutz’s defense ranked No. 2 in the MAC in scoring defense (20.8 ppg), total defense (346.8) and rushing defense (106.6 ypg). The Rocket ‘D’ also held opponents to 14 points or less on five occasions.
Amstutz briefly joined Gary Pinkel’s staff as the defensive coordinator at Missouri after Pinkel assumed the head coaching position there following the 2000 season. But Amstutz returned to his alma mater two weeks later to accept the head coaching position.
Amstutz and his wife, Beth, have two daughters, Lauren, 23, a UT graduate who works as a television producer in Toledo, and Brooke, 22, a four-year basketball starter and recent graduate at Indiana Wesleyan.