In August 1998, 18-year-old Jason Candle, a wide receiver from Salem, Ohio, arrived at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Penn. Like a squirrel who scored a piece of road kill — and priceless experience — from the middle of the highway before bolting back to the friendly and opportunity-filled confines of his home territory, Candle retreated to Ohio after two seasons.
After playing two seasons with the Golden Tornadoes, Candle, satisfied with the out-of-state flirtation, played two more at Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio — 14 miles from Salem — where he won two national championships. He joined the Purple Raiders' staff a year after graduation, jumped to the FBS with an assistant job at Toledo in 2009 and became Rockets' head coach in 2016. His name is now caked across Power Five watch lists.
Candle is one of 10 current FBS head coaches who were born Ohio and one of 28 who are currently head coaches in their home state. Of the 10 Ohio-born coaches, he is one of four who also coach in Ohio.
“Ohio has one of the best football traditions in the country, and certainly a legacy of outstanding coaches," Candle told HERO Sports. "I’m proud to be from Ohio. I’ve played and coached my entire life in this state."
Ohio is tied for second with California in producing current head coaches. Only Texas (13) has more. Thirty-five states are represented, along with one foreign country — BYU's Kalani Sitake was born in Nuku-alofa, Tonga, a collection of 169 islands northwest of New Zealand.
FBS coaches come from 116 different cities, with only 10 cities producing multiple coaches. Six of the 28 home-state coaches are also coaching in their birth city.
Here's a full interactive map of the birth cities of all 130 FBS head coaches:
Candle is the only head coach from Salem but three other Ohio cities have multiple coaches: Columbus, Toledo and Youngstown.
Youngstown is a revered football city, but with Bob Stoops and Bo and Carl Pelini recently dropping from the FBS head coaching ranks, it is no longer the top coach-producing city in the nation. They are tied with Madison, Wis., and Dallas. Other cities with two coaches are Birmingham, Ala., Shawnee, Kan., Louisville, Ky., Lincoln, Neb., and New York, N.Y.
Here is the full list of birth cities and states for all 130 FBS head coaches.
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