COLUMBIA – Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus spoke to Toledo officials, but he’s not talking to anyone else.
Eberflus addressed questions Monday for the first time since he interviewed for Toledo's head football coach position on Sunday. The job opened after eighth-year coach Tom Amstutz retired following a loss to Bowling Green on Friday. On Monday, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel confirmed Eberflus’ interview during his weekly press conference. Eberflus said he would not speak about the situation, other than to say he is preparing for the Big 12 Conference championship game against Oklahoma on Saturday in Kansas City.
“I’m not allowed to comment on any of that stuff,” he said. “I’m just going to focus on playing Oklahoma.”
Eberflus has Toledo ties. He is a graduate of Whitmer High School in Toledo and later became a standout defensive player in college. From 1988 to 1991, he played linebacker at Toledo and earned first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors during his final two seasons. In 1992, he joined Pinkel’s staff at Toledo as a graduate assistant and followed his former coach to Missouri before the 2001 season.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen there, but you want your coordinators to get jobs,” Pinkel said. “What has happened is people see the success that we have had, and they want to duplicate it.”
This season, Eberflus’ defense has struggled despite returning 10 starters from a unit that led the Big 12 Conference in total defense during league play last year. Missouri ranks No. 91 in total defense, allowing 396.5 yards per game.
Eberflus' unit faces a stiff test Saturday. The Sooners rank third in total offense, averaging 556.67 yards per game. Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford has thrown for 4,080 yards and 46 touchdowns to six interceptions and is considered by some as the Heisman Trophy favorite.
Players said Eberflus has yet to address them about the Toledo situation. They consider his possible promotion a plus.
“We don’t take too much of it into account,” senior linebacker Brock Christopher said. “Obviously, when you’re in coaching you want to move up, and we’re very understandable of that.”
Said senior defensive end Stryker Sulak: “That’s something where if you have a lot of good players and success, you’re going to get job offers from somewhere else. That’s something we’re not worried about.”
If Eberflus becomes Toledo’s next coach, he will be the second assistant under Pinkel to earn a promotion. On Monday, Pinkel confirmed offensive coordinator Dave Christensen has accepted an offer to become Wyoming’s next coach.
“I have a great job here at Missouri,” Eberflus said. “I’m working for Missouri, and that’s what I plan on doing.”