Quincy Patterson: Season-changer

About a year ago at this time, I was absolutely convinced the 2021 Temple football Owls would finish 2-10 and you could not move me off that block.

As excited as I was about Stan Drayton replacing the old guy for this season, I looked at six wins as the absolute ceiling for the 2022 Temple football Owls.

Even looking at it eight optimistic ways, doubling last year’s win total seemed the best we could do.

With the news on Wednesday, the freaking sky is the limit.

Stan Drayton broke the good news to Temple fans in New York City on Thursday night.

We speculated in this space very recently that Drayton promised an upgrade at the quarterback position but did not see it. We said a week ago that Drayton was “bringing in a couple of guys” to compete for the starting quarterback job with D’Wan Mathis and I said that even given “one of those guys was Elijah Warner, who is the other guy?”

That “other guy” is Quincy Patterson with his recent signing at Temple.

This is a game-changer. Hell, it’s a season-changer. This has moved the needle from “ceiling of six wins” to a winning season.

A winning season needs to happen this year. I’ll take 7-5 but I’m much more into 8-5 and 9-3 or better.

Patterson now makes that possible.

Owls were “acceptable” on defense, offensive line, wide receiver and even running back but Mathis’ history of fragility and his underwhelming first year with the Owls made quarterback the No. 1 priority.

Prior to last week, Florida Gator transfer Emory Jones and Pitt Panther transfer Davis Beville were considered slight upgrades Temple could get over Mathis.

Patterson (who seemingly came out of nowhere because he entered the portal last week) is a huge upgrade and Drayton seeing the flaws in spring practice and getting upgrades since at running back and quarterback is the biggest indication that this guy is pushing all the right buttons.

Patterson is just what the doctor ordered for Temple football.

Consider this: This man singlehandedly led Virginia Tech to a 6OT win over a North Carolina team that beat Temple, 55-13. That was an 8-5 Temple team that beat No. 21 Maryland, 20-17. (That Maryland team hammered Rutgers, 48-7, four weeks later.)

This is no Re’Al Mitchell or even a Mathis.

I hope Mathis is Temple TUFF enough to accept the challenge and compete for a job I feel he will eventually lose but, if he wins it, Temple is better off with the competition.

The reality is that since both Mathis and Patterson have now entered the portal twice they are both committed to Temple for another year or will have to sit out before transferring to the next school.

For that reason, the Temple quarterback room has morphed from the thinnest to the deepest in the AAC and that’s a very good thing for all of us.

Monday: The Golden Voice

Addison’s story is a cautionary tale for Temple

Jordan Addison

One of the best low-key stories in college sports is happening right now.

Columbia’s baseball team is on a 19-game winning streak, the longest in the nation.

Great story. Ivy League school becomes a legit threat on the national level, if it can beat out Philadelphia’s Penn for the title this coming week.

Temple used to have a baseball team. Made it to the College World Series twice. Finished third in the nation once. Defied all of the laws of “Eastern” teams and “cold-weather” teams not doing well in that sport in championships.

Also a great story.

Temple stopped writing that story when it dropped the nation’s past-time almost a decade ago. Drexel has a baseball team. So does Villanova and St. Joseph’s. Penn thrives in the sport and is the only threat to Columbia in the Ivy League. Temple does not but it still has a pretty nice stadium in Ambler, nicer than any of the city rivals.

Right now, tiny Arcadia College has the best college baseball stadium in the metropolis only because it rents Skip Wilson Field from Temple.

Columbia baseball, St. Peter’s basketball–at least in my mind–are the two best sports in college sports in the last couple of months, not in that order.

We’re running out of great stories in college sports and the chief reason is greed by the rich guys, not the poor ones.

That means terrible stories are obfuscating the good ones on a recurrent basis.

One such story is the Jordan Addison one currently happening.

Addison won the Fred Biletnikoff Award for being the best receiver in college football in the 2022 season while playing for Pitt.

That wasn’t good enough for Addison to continue playing at Pitt.

You would think Pitt football is big-time. The Panthers are coming off a Power 5 Conference championship and the Biletnikoff Award the school made possible for Addison has set him up for a nice pro career.

No.

The transfer portal and the NLI rule made Addison look around and it appears he is headed for the highest bidder, likely USC.

If Pitt is negatively affected, what does it mean for cross-state rival Temple?

Not good.

Something needs to be done about both the transfer portal rule and the NLI rule sooner than later but neither appears on the immediate horizon. I’m praying that some structure returns to college football but actually doing something is needed over thoughts and prayers at this point.

Addison leaving Pitt for greener (money) pastures is like Temple having a Heisman Trophy finalist leaving for another school after appearing in New York and finishing second. Fortunately, Paul Palmer never had to make that decision since he went immediately from the New York Athletic Club to the NFL but if both the transfer portal and the NLI existed (and Paul had some eligibility remaining), what would he have done in 1986?

Pitt doesn’t have the greenbacks to keep up with USC.

Temple doesn’t have the greenbacks to keep up with Pitt.

As far as a level playing field, which we once had, we can kiss that goodbye.

That’s the worst story in college sports these days and the NCAA needs to do something.

Temple running out of time on a new quarterback

“You’re out of touch
I’m out of time
But I’m out of my head when you’re not around”

_ Temple grads Darryl Hall and John Oates in a 1984 No. 1 hit.

With the untimely departure of Lew Katz in an airplane crash and Bill Cosby in a scandal, Temple grad John Oates is probably the richest person alive who has publicly stated he cares about Temple football.

In a 2015 interview, Oates–who lives in Colorado and is reportedly worth $30 million–said he “watches every Temple game on TV” and is “thrilled with how far the program has come since I went there.”

Katz, who loved Temple football more than any rich guy ever, amassed a personal fortune of $467,000,000 before he died. Cosby’s last fortune estimate was made in the 2008 Time Magazine piece when “America’s Dad” had $365 million in his checking account. Katz’s son, Drew, is on the Temple Board of Trustees but doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for Temple football his dad did.

That leaves Oates.

Had to think about John, who was basically the lyric writer in the famous music duo, when researching Stan Drayton’s post-Cherry and White game promise about bringing in “a couple of quarterbacks” to compete for the job with current starter D’wan Mathis.

Even if Elijah Warner is one of the “couple of guys” Drayton promised to bring in to compete for the QB job, that leaves out a guy. Who is that guy?

“I’m out of time but I’m out of my head when you’re not around.”

Back in mid-April, had to be thinking about Florida portal guy Emory Jones and Pitt portal guy Davis Beville looking for a team where they could start right away.

They were available for Temple then. They are not now. Jones signed with Arizona State and Beville went to Oklahoma, where he might be the starting quarterback at Temple in 2024.

Temple?

Holding an empty bag so far.

What, exactly, did Drayton mean when he said “I’m bringing in a couple of guys” to compete for the starting job?

Even if you concede one of those guys was incoming freshman Elijah Warner, son of the current richest Temple football dad (Kurt, who, like Oates, has $30 million stashed away) that leaves us short a guy.

Listen, I like Mathis. I love his skill set.

I don’t like his history of fragility nor do I like what Temple currently has behind him.

Without insulting those kids by name, they are Villanova-level backups, not Temple-level starters.

Surely, Drayton must realize this.

That begs the question: What does Drayton have in mind?

We will find out soon or not at all. It’s the next big story on the Temple football horizon and it needs to be written.

We are running out of time and they (or he) is not around.

I’m not out of my head yet but will be if he’s not around on September 2.

Still within reach for Temple: An AAC title

Temple will need to hit the local high schools to come away with a recruiting haul.

Plenty of things that were once not only possible in sports but actually occurred have no shot of happening again.

Fortunately, horse racing proved that a $30,000 claiming horse with an 80-1 shot can beat the 4-1 and 7-2 shots and still win the Kentucky Derby as Rich Strike did on Saturday.

That was a great moment in sports history.

Other great moments, though, are slip-sliding away.

Robin Roberts’ 28-straight complete games for the Philadelphia Phillies?

No shot ever since somebody came up with a pitch count.

Maury Wills’ 104 stolen bases for the 1960s Dodgers?

No way.

Ted Williams’ .406 batting average?

Err, no.

Baseball, though, despite declining impressive stats is infinitely fairer to the have-nots than college football is.

Because college football is controlled by the big-name, big-conference, schools, the likelihood that we will ever see another Group of Five football team in the playoffs is as remote as all of the above baseball records being broken.

Heck, there is even talk of the Power 5 splitting away from the rest of the NCAA and starting its own version of March Madness.

That means no more terrific stories like the ones crafted by schools like Butler, George Mason, Loyola of Chicago, and, most recently, St. Peter’s. They were the Rich Strikes of college basketball.

If that happens, the basketball tournament loses much of its appeal. Hell, Mike Leach makes a good argument here as to why college football should be more inclusive, not less, after the Kentucky Derby result. Gotta give that guy credit because he is one of the few haves to advocate for the have-nots.

Temple football came within 16 points of a 12-0 season in 1979 and a likely national championship if they were able to find those points, but that kind of ceiling got raised so high it’s in another galaxy by now.

What is the current Temple football ceiling?

Certainly, an AAC football title is within reach, probably not this year, but certainly 2-3 years down the road.

The Owls will have to use their advantages (located in a big city with plenty of NLI opportunities) plus having a charismatic head coach who should be a great recruiter. By then, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF will be gone and, if Temple can’t compete for titles with the Memphises, Tulanes, USFs and Tulsas, the administration will have to do some serious soul-searching about its football future.

Heck, even with Cincy, Houston and UCF to compete against, it wasn’t all that long ago that Temple appeared in consecutive football title games and won one of them.

The formula remains the same: A committed, enthusiastic, head coach who can attract only 25 great players in a recruiting area that holds 46 percent of the nation’s population within a five-hour drive.

That standard existed roughly five years ago. For the future to mean anything, it must be revisited.

Friday: Your Next QB?

We Were The Champions, My Friend

Spurred on by a friend who liked my review of a recent Elton John movie, I finally got around to watching Bohemian Rapsody the other night.

“Mike, great movie, but you’ve got to watch Bohemian Rapsody and get back to me.”

I did.

Late to that party but better late than never.

An absolutely brilliant film and Remi Malek deserved his Best Actor in a Lead Role Award probably better than anyone I’ve seen in the last decade.

At least.

One of the cornerstones of the film was the 22-minute performance by Queen during the Wembley Stadium version of Live Aid which was pure gold. Widely hailed by critics as the best live performance by any rock band ever, I can honestly say I’ve never seen an audience both more mesmerized by any rock band or more participatory in the concert itself.

It got me to thinking about Temple football and crowd reactions.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen a lot of great Temple crowds.

While 35,000 people going crazy in the 27-10 win over Penn State at Lincoln Financial Field was truly inspiring and 30,000 Temple fans in a Mayor’s Cup win over Villanova (where only 5,000 Nova fans could make it) was a close runnerup, I have to give the nod to one game in 2016.

The 34-10 win over Navy at Navy.

That was SUPPOSED to be a home game for Navy but, of the nearly 30K fans in a 35K stadium, at least 15K were Temple fans. Maybe more, maybe less, but from the sound of the crowd only one team had a home-field advantage.

That was Temple.

Fans of then the No. 19 team in the country, Navy, largely sat on their hands.

That’s damn impressive because one group of fans had to travel three hours to get to the game while the other group had to roll out of bed and walk a mile or so down the road.

We were the champions, my friend, and the noise we made will be remembered to the end.

In the closing 20 seconds when the outcome had been long determined, I made my way to the concourse like a nut case and yelled out to no one in particular:

“THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!!”

Sheepishly, I looked around hoping no one saw me but saw about a dozen or more people wearing Temple stuff smiling back and clapping.

They understood the 50 years or so of frustration being released in a positive manner.

Savor it because while being a champion again is always the goal, don’t know if the present-day college football landscape will ever give Temple the same kind of even playing field it had seven short years ago.

Monday: How History Could Repeat

Breaking up with Illinois not hard to do

Jakari Norwood shows here that you can’t teach speed.

The transfer portal giveth and it also taketh away.

When it comes to Illinois football and Temple football, it giveth.

Don’t know why Temple is a destination for Illinois players, but as a Temple fan, I will take it.

When you have a head coach with all the charisma of a dead fish (and not all that long ago, Temple did), the portal door only seems to have an exit sign.

Now that Temple has a charismatic head coach, like Stan Drayton, the entrances seem to outnumber the exits.

That’s a good thing.

The latest Illinois’ running back to pick Temple is Jakari Norwood, who committed after a visit to Temple this weekend. He is second Illinois running back to commit to Temple in the last three years, with Ra’Von Bonner picking the Owls in 2020.

Jakari Norwood gets robbed of a touchdown vs. Nebraska here.

Game-changer?

Yet to be determined but arguably Bonner had better numbers at Illinois (822 yards, 10 touchdowns) than Norwood (49 carries, 244 yards, no touchdowns) and Bonner did not make much of an impact here.

That fact has to be tempered by the last coach’s history of failure in getting the entire running game at Temple to work no matter who carried the ball and that this coach is a highly touted run game specialist.

We shall see.

Bonner and Norwood were both starters at Illinois (Bonner started 10 games and Norwood one). Another one-time Illinois starter, Jacob Hollins, is a current linebacker at Temple.

The acquisitions show that Drayton is taking a hard look at the roster. Running backs did not make an impact in last month’s Cherry and White game the chief reason appeared to be the lack of breakaway speed among any of them and that includes sprinter Darvon Hubbard, a Texas A&M portal transfer.

Norwood, a 100- and 200-meter state champion in Florida, does have breakaway speed.

When he graduated from Deerfield (Fla.) High, he was ranked among the top 100 running backs in the country. Temple almost never gets that kind of recruit.

If he wins the job, he will have two years left to show why he was rated that highly and probably will bring a chip on his shoulder to prove it.

Networking: Understanding the landscape

There is no straighter path to success in college football than a large committed home fanbase.

Some head coaches understand that.

Some do not.

Fortunately, the early signs are that first-year (we can’t call him new anymore) head coach Stan Drayton understands that.

Drayton will be part of a fan tour hitting a number of places in the next few weeks and, at least for those 250,000 Temple alumni within a short driving distance from any of the above events, it will be worth networking with the new Temple head coach.

I’ve always wrote in this space that Temple is playing in too large a stadium even for a short-range alumni of 250,000 people, up to (at times) 40,000 full-time students and 12,500 full-time employees.

Simply, that’s because only about 10 percent of the above groups even are mildly interested in football.

Still, filling more than half of a stadium of 70K has always been a reasonable goal with one caveat.

Winning.

Now, if Temple won consistently like the other big-time schools, maybe 40K is a floor and not a ceiling but that kind of winning has been out of reach for eight of the last 10 years.

So building a fanbase person by person is done through the kind of outreach Drayton is doing over the next month.

It is also the kind of networking the last guy from Indiana/Illinois hated.

I’ve done a number of these outreach things over the last decade. On one day in New York City when I was scheduled by the producers of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” for an interview (I was one of only two people in a group of 200 to pass a 30-question test), I noticed that five blocks down the street that night Temple was doing an alumni outreach at a swanky NYC club that featured Fran Dunphy and Steve Addazio.

I signed up for that.

The Millionaire show soon moved to Las Vegas, eliminating all the New York contestants not able to afford the trip, but the Temple show made the trip to NYC worthwhile.

My two friends from the Hardin Era introduced me to Daz and we got into a pretty good conversation about how pissed Daz was about Bernard Pierce leaving a year early and Daz telling us how he was “thisclose” to kicking Matty Brown off the team.

One of the guys then interrupted.

“Steve, Mike is the guy who writes Temple Football Forever,” he said.

“Mike, please do not write this,” Daz said.

I didn’t but I now assume the statute of limitations has expired. We won’t get into the why part but Daz had a pretty good reason to kick Matty off the team.

Fortunately, Steve didn’t do that because a few months later Brown scored the first two touchdowns in a 14-0 lead over Army that turned into a 63-32 win.

I then walked over to Dunphy and we had a terrific conversation based on the fact that one of his teammates, Lefty Ervin, was my history teacher in high school. Fran then regaled me with stories of his time at LaSalle with Ervin (also a great baseball player) and at Army with Coach K.

No nicer guy who ever coached at Temple than Fran Dunphy and coach John Chaney (who I also knew) was a great guy and a better coach.

Pretty good stuff.

Temple fans might not have an opportunity to get this close to their marquee head coaches any time or anywhere than the next few weeks and it’s well worth the time.

The current landscape is that, with opportunities for the athletes to make serious money playing for the Owls, the alumni who have deep pockets could network with these coaches to brainstorm opportunities in the fourth-largest city in America.

The others with shorter pockets?

Well, a fan base of 40K is built on a lot of things and personal interaction is vital to a loyalty factor.

Winning, of course, is at the top.

It always is.

Monday: The Breakup

The Next Big Thing: Fixing the WR position

The first aftershocks coming out of Stan Drayton’s inaugural spring practice at Temple are starting to be felt and it should not be surprising.

Drayton said several times early in the process that “nobody has taken a leadership role” at the wide receiver position and “that is something that needs to happen.”

Adonicas Sanders comes recommended by former Temple OC Dave Patenaude: “His work ethic is amazing.”

Translation: It didn’t happen so Drayton is making it happen.

Drayton is bringing in Michigan State’s Ian Stewart and Georgia Tech’s Adonicas Sanders at least one of them looks like a leader, if not both.

Sanders appears to be that guy.

A lot of the Duke players are still seeing Sanders’ game-winning catch against them in their nightmares and, if he does it again in the opener for a Temple win, that’s the kind of deja vu Owl fans would love to see.

As far Power 5 players transferring to Temple, the Owls haven’t seen this kind of productivity on the big stage in North Philadelphia since pre-season ACC Player of the Year (as chosen by that conference’s media), Montel Harris, arrived exactly 10 years ago. Then Temple coach Steve Addazio was looking to make a big splash because star running back Bernard Pierce left for the NFL draft, where he was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the third round.

Harris delivered, rushing for over 1,000 yards that season, including a Temple-record 351 yards in a 63-32 win at Army.

Now Drayton is facing a similar leadership hole as Jadan Blue has left for Virginia Tech and Randle Jones embarks on a pro career soon.

Sanders’ P5 numbers aren’t quite as good as Montel’s but he has 14 Power 5 starts and caught 29 passes last year for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Pretty comparable to the 36 catches for the exact same amount of yards (362) it took current teammate Amad Anderson to compile in three years at Purdue.

So the Owls have a couple of guys, if both start, have produced during games in the ACC and Big 10. Add Stewart in the mix to a reliable holdover like Jose Barbon and the Owls are starting to build some depth for whomever the starting quarterback turns out to be.

Speaking of that, Sanders attended Charleston’s Burke High School in South Carolina. Matt Duncan, a backup quarterback at Temple who recently told Drayton he was entering the portal, is from Summerville, S.C.

One of the Owls’ rumored quarterback targets is Pitt transfer portal guy Davis Beville, who is from Greenville, S.C.

Maybe the South Carolina guys know something Temple fans will find out about soon.

Either way, whoever wins the Temple quarterbacking job will be inheriting a sure-handed group thanks to Drayton being proactive.

Friday: Networking

Quarterback help is on the way

Sometimes it’s the thought that counts.

Judging by the thinking in the coaches’ room at the Edberg-Olson Football Complex, there is a plan going forward and that’s a good thing.

At least from a Temple fan perspective.

From this seat in the stands and on the sidelines the last year or so (including the spring game a couple of weeks ago), what we’ve seen so far of D’wan Mathis is promising but not enough.

We speculated in this space 18 days ago about the availability of Florida transfer Emory Jones and said he was “open to going anywhere” and Temple is one of those places now.

He is just off a visit to Arizona State so the Owls getting him is not assured but they have shown interest and are also interested in Pitt transfer portal QB Davis Beville.

If they can get one, they will be better off. If they can get both, it’s hitting the jackpot.

To me, Mathis is a guy who needs a fire lit under him to excel and either/or of the above two qualify as kindling.

If Mathis excels with the competition, Temple’s offensive productivity is better off. If either Jones or Beville beats out Mathis, then Temple is better off. Being the Temple quarterback is a job worth earning, not one that should be given.

Remember, Mathis came in here with more interceptions than touchdowns thrown at Georgia and his six touchdowns vs. four interceptions in his inaugural year with the Owls didn’t represent the kind of productivity we were looking for.

Former head coach Rod What’s His Name staked his future on Mathis, replacing a guy who had thrown 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his last full regular season with a guy who went 6/4.

Not good.

Before the uneven Cherry and White performance of Mathis, head coach Stan Drayton said he was “bringing in guys” to compete and now it appears, as with most things Drayton, he is hell-bent on keeping his promise.

Jones and Beville are two interesting guys but, if they don’t come here, there are still several FCS starters in the portal looking to move up. Scholarships are running out and Temple appears to be making room for quarterbacks as deep sub Matt Duncan announced his intention to enter the portal.

Jones threw 19 touchdown passes at Florida and that was 17 more than Mathis did at Georgia and Beville was 14-for-18 in a 2020 game for Pitt.

Bring one of those guys to Temple and things really get interesting here.

The best-case scenario would be for Mathis to accept the challenge and win a starting job that was given to him a year ago. The worst case would be to keep things as they are now and have no viable AAC-level backups.

The new guy seems to understand that a whole lot better than the old guy and that means the Temple brain trust is using their heads for more than a hat rack, a welcome change from the most recent past.

Monday: The Next Big Thing

The next big thing: Conventional wisdom

Mike Elko greets the Cameron Indoor Stadium crazies at a basketball game last month.

There is conventional wisdom versus regular wisdom.

For Temple fans, they have to hope the hiring of Stan Drayton was a wise one, maybe even better than conventional wisdom.

The validation so far has come to the fans of the program by the way Drayton has handled things.

Kids who didn’t buy in under the last guy have bought in under him. Nationally, it’s another story.

The “conventional wisdom” has it that one of the two combatants in the September opener for Temple made a great hire in Mike Elko and the Drayton hire has yet to appear on the national radar.

Such was the case last week in this article putting the Elko hire at the top of the list of eight new coaching hires.

Drayton?

Not even mentioned.

Of the 131 FBS teams, 27 have new head coaches and the Temple opener will be Drayton’s first chance to make a statement that he, too, should have received some props.

To be fair, the ranking of the new head coaches reflects the overall media bias slanted toward Power 5 schools. Also, P5 schools have the kind of money to buy the best head-coaching candidates so it’s only logical that they are mentioned over the new G5 hires.

Still, history has shown the best new hires have been about an even split between the G5 and the P5 schools. Not very many people on the national level gave Temple high marks for picking Al Golden or Matt Rhule but one was responsible for turning a 20-game losing streak into the school’s first bowl appearance in 30 years and the other was responsible for consecutive 10-win seasons.

If Drayton’s accomplishments here are similar to theirs, even Mike Elko might be hard-pressed to top those numbers at Duke.

Ironically, Elko turned down the Temple job before Pat Kraft turned to Manny Diaz for 18 days. He either didn’t believe he could get it done here, didn’t like Philadelphia or thought staying at Texas A&M gave him a better shot at career advancement.

Drayton believes. That’s just half the battle.

If he beats Elko in the opener, he will win the full battle–at least when it comes to the national media giving Temple some credit for this hire.

Friday: Help is on the way