North Texas Daily

Interim coach Canales injects positivity in program despite losing

Interim coach Canales injects positivity in program despite losing

October 29
02:05 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer


Some high schools honor their seniors with various awards before they graduate. Best looking and most athletic top many lists. North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales won an award before graduating high school too.

“I got most spirited,” Canales said. “Can you believe that?”

It’s easy to see why.

Canales was in the press box for the first five games of the season, serving as the team’s offensive coordinator. But since becoming interim head coach, Canales has been on the sidelines, making his presence known in the process. The 54-year-old has bolted up and down the sidelines in his first two games as head coach this season, encouraging players as they come on and off the field.

Canales has also held up a fist every time the defense has faced third down, symbolizing fourth down and the desire to get off the field.

“It’s not fake,” Canales said of his enthusiasm. “This is who I am. I’m Mike Canales. If you talk to any of my ex- players, they will tell you, ‘That’s Coach C.’”

Junior center Kaydon Kirby said Canales’ passion has resonated through the team and agrees that none of his actions are perceived as phony.

“I love it,” Kirby said. “I think Coach Canales has a lot of passion. I think when a tough situation comes, he’s done a good job of making sure no one strays off. He’s full of energy. He’ll get up and start dancing, and that spreads throughout the team. At first everyone was just kind of staring at him, and now game two everyone is jumping up and down with their fists up in the air.”

Canales garnered his love for coaching at an early age. His father coached many of his sports teams, from pop warner football to little league baseball. The admiration he had for his father is what Canales said ultimately led him down his current career path.

“I saw the investment that my father put into it, and I saw the rewards and the influence that my dad had on other kids,” Canales said. “And I said, ‘I want to be like my father.’”

North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales looks on with his team inside the red zone against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales looks on his team inside the red zone against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

After playing quarterback for Utah State University from 1981-1983, Canales began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Brigham Young University in 1985. He got his first offensive coordinator job at Snow College, a position he held from 1987-1994. He then went to the University of Pacific for a year before moving to the University of South Florida to serve as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Jim Levitt.

From there, Canales made a stop at North Carolina State University from 2001-2002 where he coached current All-Pro National Football League quarterback Philip Rivers.

“The only thing I ever worked on with Philip was his footwork, because I thought he had two left feet,” Canales joked. “And Philip hated to lose. He was a really competitive guy and he still is. And one thing about Philip was he could talk trash with the best of them and never use a swear word. That’s why he was so fun to be around.”

After spending two seasons at NC State, Canales made the jump to the NFL, coaching wide receivers for the New York Jets in 2003. After his stint in the NFL, Canales went to the University of Arizona and back to USF before ending up in Denton in 2010.

But despite the multitude of coaching positions at a variety of stops, Canales said there is not one coach in particular that his influenced the way he runs a team. Instead, Canales considers himself a combination of several coaches he has worked with – a trait he believes to be valuable.

“It’s not so much one person. I feel like I’m a mix of guys,” Canales said. “Chuck Amato gave me confidence. Jim Levitt taught me toughness. Norm Chow taught me the x’s and o’s. Mike Stoops, I learned a lot about defense. Dan McCarney, I saw how he turned this program around. I learned so much from him. I can take something from everyone.”

Junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith said having Canales as the interim head coach has paid dividends for him not only on the field, but off it as well.

“It helps me as a quarterback because he has his own experience of being a quarterback when he played. So a lot of stuff he does is catered towards us,” Smith said. “He always leaves his door open for anyone. If you have a problem he tells you to come to him. And if that means sitting and talking with you for two hours he will do it. And I know he doesn’t want credit for it, but I have to give him credit.”

Canales said although his main focus is getting North Texas in the win column, he is devoted to his players and wants them to know he supports them unconditionally.

“I want our players to know that Coach C has their back,” Canales said. “Through good plays and through bad plays, I’m always going to be there for them.”

Featured Image: North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales locks arms with redshirt freshman Connor Means before taking the field against Western Kentucky on October 15, 2015. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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