Craig Candeto, a former standout collegiate quarterback, Navy fighter pilot and assistant coach, has been selected to be the next head football coach at Capital, athletic director Steve Bruning announced.
He replaces Mike Stanford, who stepped down following the Crusaders' 2-8 season, their worst since 1999. Capital is one of four Ohio Athletic Conference schools changing coaches this offseason, following John Carroll's hiring of Tom Arth, the as-yet-unreleased news that Marietta has hired Wittenberg assistant Andy Waddle and the expected hiring of former ONU coach Stacey Hairston at Wilmington.
Candeto, who will be the 11th coach in the Crusaders' history, most recently served as assistant coach for quarterbacks and fullbacks and academic coordinator at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina and a member of Division I FCS. He helped lead the Bulldogs to a 6-4 record in 2012, the program's second winning season in 15 years.
"My wife and I are extremely excited to be part of the Capital University family and it is an honor to be named the head football coach at such a great institution," Candeto said. "I know that Capital is a special place with big things on the horizon, and I look forward to the years to come."
"Craig's success and leadership as a student-athlete and an assistant coach, as well as his vision for our football program, stood out during the interview process," Bruning said. "He has a true understanding of the balance of academics and athletics and will teach our student-athletes the principles of hard work, leadership and dedication.
"When evaluating Craig, one of our football student-athletes wrote, 'Coach Candeto will develop current and future players as men, instilling the values we take with us and use as husbands and fathers.' I think that articulates the reason why we felt Craig was the best fit for this position over a number of other talented candidates."
As a student-athlete at the United States Naval Academy, Candeto played both football and baseball for four years. As a senior captain of the Midshipmen in 2003, he helped guide the team to an 8-5 record and bowl appearance after posting just three wins the previous three seasons combined. Candeto rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards each and earned the Memorial Silver Helmet Award as the most outstanding player at Navy for two straight seasons. Candeto graduated from the Naval Academy with a bachelor's in economics in 2004.
Prior to beginning his career as a coach, Candeto served as a fighter pilot with the Strike Fighter Squadron 106 in Virginia Beach, Va. A Navy lieutenant, Candeto flew the $57 million F/A-18-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft for four years before retiring in 2009. He is married to Maribeth (Robinson) Candeto.
In 2012, Capital posted its first losing season in over a decade at 2-8 overall, including a 2-7 mark in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Candeto inherits a team with 16 starters slated to return in 2013, including eight on offense, six on defense and both specialists.
"I believe we have the pieces in place to compete annually in the OAC and bring the program back to national prominence," Candeto said. "Achieving our goals will not be easy, but we will stay the course and expect excellence in all areas of our program. We want to be champions in all that we do, on and off the field, and will take the necessary steps to make sure this is accomplished."