Unintended Consequences

Thanks to TU’s refusal to play an 8-man front, we may have already reached our high-water mark for number of Temple fans this season.

Two steps forward, one step back.

That has been the pattern for Temple football, even in the era of resurgence that came with the hiring of Al Golden late in 2005.

Have a chance to get bowl-eligible in 2008, lose on a Hail Mary pass at Buffalo instead. Go to Ohio for a chance to win a title in 2009, lose that game instead. Bring 23K Temple fans to a frozen tundra in D.C., have them go home losers instead. Win a bowl game in 2011, have a disappointing season in 2012.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Now, it has happened again with the embarrassing and unacceptable loss to Army in the season opener. The Era of Good Feeling (two steps forward) was sustained for most of 2015 because of a 7-0 start and because of the big win over Penn State.


Former Temple player Fizzy brings up a lot of good points in this email.

Even last year, though, a dumb decision by the administration to turn down a chance to play Auburn or Virginia Tech resulted in a return to the MAC, where the Owls proved once again that they cannot beat a winning MAC team. That was a game the Owls could have and should have avoided at all costs, because they had nothing to gain and plenty to lose and they lost plenty. It was embarrassing and a step back in a two-step forward season.

If the Owls had beaten Army before a crowd of 34,005, they would have set themselves up for a nice run of home crowds in the first-ever season where they played seven home games. They would have not drawn the 34,005 for Stony Brook that they did for Army, but they might have gotten the 30,181 they got for a winless UCF team in the mid-point of last season. Hard numbers point to the major reason for disappointing attendance is a disappointing early loss. That pattern is likely to repeat itself because hard numbers do not lie.

Now, they will be lucky to get 22,000 fans—if that—for Stony Brook on Saturday. The fans cannot be blamed. The players did not deserve to be thrown under the bus (they were). It was just two God-awful coaching game plans, one on offense and one on defense, which deserve the brunt of the blame. Nine months to get ready for a one-dimensional team and the Owls approached the game like they were playing any other foe. Still have not heard a word from CEO Matt Rhule on how poorly prepared this team was or a word criticizing either of his coordinators game plan that showed little imagination on offense and no semblance of a clue as to how to stop even the most basic option on defense.

Do not hold your breath.

Accepting responsibility at the top is not coming, but the unintended consequence of a mostly empty stadium for the balance of the season is bound to be on display Saturday. It will be impossible to get the stadium as lively as it was on opening night unless the Owls take a long winning streak into the USF game.

That is the unintended consequence of two steps forward, one step back, which seems to be par for the course for Temple football the past few years. There are words to describe the feeling for the fans and they must include agonizing, frustrating and infuriating.

The fans deserve better.

Friday: A Look At Stony Brook


19 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences

  1. Your headline could simply be ‘temple football is back’. You make several valid points regarding the poor preparations for the game and the inability of the coaching staff to make appropriate adjustments. However, the players also need to take ownership for poor execute of basic blocking and tackling and the complete lack of on-field leadership.

    Philip Walker certainly didn’t strike me as a four year starter who could act as a field general and the defense is desperate for someone to step up. I don’t believe Jahad Thomas we’d have dramatically impacted the outcome since Temple still had a considerable advantage in talent on paper.

    I’ve also expressed concerns before about the loss of the productivity and intensity of TM and crew, and these concerns were validated in the Army game. This team showed no heart last week and I hope to God we don’t face the Houston team I saw take Oklahoma apart.

  2. Mike, Houston lost more starters than Temple and an equal impact player to TM in first-round pick William Jackson? Why are they better? Answer has to be coaching.

    • also recruiting. they get 5 stars. we sit around every Feb. and pat Matt Rhule on the back for getting 3*s. We’re smack in the middle of a short drive for 1/2 of the nation’s population in a World Class City that “regular” students are dying to experience. Our recruiting should be at the top of the conference every season.

  3. Mike, nice to have a short chat with you again in front of the stadium before the band got there. I mentioned Pennridge and Del Val where I attended and remembered your writings in the Intel as I was growing up.
    So enough of the niceties already……
    Today’s theme is SCHADENFREUDE.
    This Temple team, this coach Rhule, this DC Snowjob, this new Offense, this QB who reminded me of Chester Stewart yet again, etc., etc., etc….
    I think I have now gone thru the ( what is ?) 5 phases of pain and denial or what ever, but here is my rock bottom conclusion on this year’s mess. I saw the Army Loss as the death of this years’ hopes and dreams of a nice season, where I would have been happy with 8 wins.
    I am now ‘enjoying’ the pitiful state of ‘SHADENFREUDE’ because I feel there is no way Rhule easily moves on to a more premier coaching position.
    This is the only reward I can see- that he shares in the pain which was inflicted on the beautiful crowd of Temple fans who came to see this debacle.
    Is it possible this guy is not smart enough or too stubborn the realize that wins leads to his better future ?
    Joy or satisfaction gained in observing the misfortune of others, a sad but true state of human emotions.

    • Charlie Strong had a great Louisville team, put them in the ACC and jumped to Texas where he flopped for the first few years.., what did he do? he fired his OC and bingo.., look what the new OC did to Notre Dame..,

      Temple needs more offense. You put a ceiling on potential with the worst offense in the conference (currently ranked last). It all starts with making the guy under center more productive. Expect more of the same if we can’t figure this out.

    • I remember you from many seasons of tailgating. It was great running into you again. The thing I loved about Hardin was he coached the pants off of every opponent and he would have had Temple players in the Army backfield before that fullback got the ball handed off to him. We have been outcoached BADLY in the last three games. Badly. I don’t see it getting any better unless Glenn Thomas prints out FIzzy’s letter and starts calling those bootlegs, reverses and counters. Plus, the last I heard, the NCAA did not outlaw passes of more than 20 yards downfield. Wayne Helman would have done a better job than our CEO did Friday night. Glad to see his wife told him how bad he sucked.

  4. There is absolutely no reason the O looked as bad as it did. All camp we heard how fast and great the receivers looked and yet they did not throw a pass longer than 15 yards. Either they aren’t that fast or the OC doesn’t know how to use them. It is beyond belief that some receiver on that team could not have outrun their cornerbacks. At least take a shot to loosen them up. For heck sake Navy threw passes longer than out longest. Is there some kind of force field that makes TU coaches lose their football acumen? Our OC coached in the pros and his offensive strategy was worse than some high school offenses I’ve seen All week-end long I watched team after team putting up truckloads of points. Here, Army holds us to 3 in the second half. On top of that do they even have a red zone offense? This is the third game in a row where the team has stalled in the red zone. Also, it there something up with Walker? He was better as a freshman. Like I said previously, he looks slow. There were a couple of times in the Army game where the old PJ would have run out of trouble. Instead he was sacked.
    Not getting a td after the punt block was also telling about how bad this offense is. What hurts the most is that the vibe from Rhule all during camp was clear sailing ahead. Suddenly, a fog of mediocrity has rolled in and made us again doubt whether TU can ever sustain a winning program. Finally, watch UConn v. Navy this week-end to see how to defense the triple option.

    • MR told us all Spring and Summer that 2016 has to be Walker’s team, well if so we won’t win. Not throwing him under the bus, just evaluating facts and performance. Look at what Texas did with Swoops and Buechele?

      Texas really played the cards they have in hand. Very simple, what we are doing isn’t working. Change the scheme or change the players.

      Mike is right, don’t blame the kids. The job of the coach is to play the best players, and to put those players in the best position to make plays.

      At a minimum we are not doing at least one of those two, and at worst may not be doing either of them.

    • We haven’t looked good since the Cherry and White game.

    • Great point on P.J … I’m calling him P.J until he wins a game (new TFF policy). The reason he got the single digit was because he was a beast in the weight room in the off-season. The downside of that is that he probably bulked up so much that he lost his No. 1 advantage (turn-the-corner speed). Will we ever see the P.J. that turned the corner vs. Memphis two years ago and made that great run down the sideline? I hope so, but I have my doubts. Wish No. 11 would come back.

  5. And to think everyone was so worried whether Rhule would stay at Temple or not. Well, I know it’s a long season but, you don’t have to worry now – he ain’t going nowhere after the end of last season and now this!
    One thing I noticed on D was Temple players getting felled like trees in a clearcutting operation. Precision blocking by Army was why they held onto the ball, gained one first down after another and punched it in for TDs. And the Temple kids seemed to lose heart – maybe the worst thing of all.

    • Army tried the same precision blocking against Duke and got beat 44-3. The reason the precision blocking worked was that our LBs were 4-5 yards down the field. By the time they got to the LBs, they were making tackles 4-5-6-7 yards down the field. Pinch those LBs up and Army has more guys to block than they have blockers. Dumb coaching.

      • Good news is the MRAs are in the minority on Pravda.., reality, objective criticism, and the undying wish for us to be a great team is prevailing.., think you need another nickname for that site 🙂

      • My major problem with Pravda was never the posters (although a majority fell in line), it was with the reporting. Typical question after a brutal loss and poorly coached game by the editor there: “Is it frustrating not getting your message over to the players when they do not buy in?” Typical question by Shawn Pastor of OwlsDaily: “You knew Army was going to run. Why didn’t you play eight guys in the box and force them to pass?” The coverage is also similarly slanted. The stories are it is always the players’ fault; never the coaches. Friday was so obviously the coaches’ fault but they are in Chairman Matt’s back pocket. Hence, Pravda.

  6. My biggest concern and consequence of the loss to Army is the attendance and what you lay out Mike. A big win against Army and Stony Brook and I think you could have been looking a great Homecoming crowd and the possibility to average 30K attendance without a PSU or ND coming to the Linc. Most of the issues that have been laid out here, which are all very valid, can be corrected. Don’t know if they will be, that’s the big question.

  7. If the Owls come out in black helmets Saturday I give up. They better be in all white.

    • It will be another sign that there is no planning based on opponent or weather or any other factor and that we are just plowing ahead and doing what we planned to do without regard for the conditions. They cannot be that dumb, but I was saying that after the Navy game two years ago.

  8. If these young men cannot beat StonyBrook their scholarships should be revoked and Temple simply has to move down to FCS and play at Franklin Field. This is quite simple.

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