A member of USF’s original coaching staff as the first-ever offensive coordinator when the program was instituted in 1996, Mike Canales returned to the Bulls in 2007 after six seasons that included time at both BCS programs and within the NFL.
He returned to the role of offensive coordinator on Feb. 25, 2008 after completing a two-year run as the program's pass game coordinator.
In his first stint at USF from 1996-2000, Canales, 47, was responsible for the development of USF’s first-ever quarterback Chad Barnhardt and his stellar successor, Marquel Blackwell.
Tutoring quarterbacks has been a Canales forte as he left USF in 2001 to join North Carolina State as quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator. While at NC State (2001-2002), he coached Phillip Rivers and also helped develop future NFL receiver Jericho Cotchery.
In his return to the Green and Gold as pass game coordinator in 2007, Canales created a passing attack that helped the offense set program records in total offense and yards per game. Ten receivers caught passes at a position that was extremely young – five true or redshirt – freshmen. Of the 10 that reeled in passes, only two were seniors and only one was a starter, and the leading receiver was redshirt freshman Carlton Mitchell, who accounted for 37 receptions, 537 yards and four touchdowns. Canales was effective in grooming the young bunch and spreading the ball around. He will have the pleasure of returning pass catchers that accounted for 91 percent of the receptions and 88 percent of the receiving yards.
The 2008 team carried over the momentum from the previous season. Matt Grothe threw for a career high 18 touchdowns and regularly connected with standout receivers Jessie Hester and Taurus Johnson. Hester enters 2009 with a USF record streak of 22 consecutive games with a reception, while Johnson used his six TD catches to propel himself to East-West Shrine Game and NFL Combine invites.
In 2002, NC State finished 11-3 and ranked 12th in the final AP poll after knocking off Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. That season, the Wolfpack averaged 392 yards on offense, including 247.7 passing yards. The team had a 3,000 yard passer in Rivers, a 1,000-yard receiver in Cotchery and a 1,000-yard rusher in T.A. McLendon.
In 2001, the NC State offense averaged 358 yards, including 247 through the air. The team set a school record with a 64.4 completion percentage through the season.
In 2003, Canales joined Herm Edwards’ staff with the New York Jets, working one season as the receivers coach. While with the Jets, Canales worked with Santana Moss, who finished among the top 15 NFL receivers that season with 74 catches for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns. His TD catches tied him for fourth most in the NFL and he was selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl that year.
For three seasons (2004-06), Canales was at the University of Arizona, where he coached true freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama to honorable mention All-America status in just five games that included a win over number seven UCLA and a road victory at Oregon State. In 2005, Tuitama established the sixth best season pass efficiency in Arizona history.
Between 2004 and 2005, Canales developed an offense that improved by 60 yards per game and the average in Tuitama’s appearances was 402.6.
Before Canales first came to USF in 1996, he had been the quarterbacks coach for one season (1995) at Pacific, that coming on the heels of eight years (1987-94) at Snow College, where he was offensive coordinator with special emphasis on receivers and quarterbacks. While at Snow, Canales also coached the softball team for seven years, leading the team to six region titles.
Canales began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Brigham Young, working with quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs between 1985-87.
His coaching career got a solid boost from a strong playing background. Canales had been the starting quarterback for three years at Utah State.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in speech communication from Utah State in 1984, and he went on to complete a Master’s in professional leadership from Brigham Young in 1986.
Canales’ oldest son, Christopher (25) and his wife Jaime Canales reside in Phoenix, Ariz. His 21-year-old son Tyler recently completed a LDS mission in Honduras and will begin his collegiate career as a quarterback at Utah in the fall of 2008. Canales has two other sons, Dakota (18) and Cameron (7), in addition to a stepson Aaron (29), stepdaughter Christy (25) and granddaughter, Afton (1) with his wife, Carol.
Canales was born on June 21, 1961.