5 Things to Be Thankful For …


Even in a 5-6 season (so far), there are things to be thankful for and, for today, we will run down this small list.



For all the self-flagellations of Temple fans over poor attendance, Boston College—a Power 5 team playing in Boston against a New England rival—drew slightly over 20,000 fans in 37,000-seat Fenway Park in a 38-13 win over UConn on Saturday night. Temple, having a worse season than BC, drew an average of over 26,000 fans for a 5-6 team. Last year, for a 10-win team, the Owls averaged  27,229.


Nick Sharga

The fullback returned to the modern offense for the first time since the Wyatt Benson days of Al Golden and Sharga proved the position could be the key that starts an effective offense. Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead followed Sharga through the hole a year ago. That accomplished two things: Shorten the game and keep the defense fresh while chewing up clock and make the play-action passing game much more effective by bringing the linebackers and the safeties up to the line of scrimmage to defend the run and then passing over their heads. Sharga was largely a forgotten man by this staff who only gave him lip service and not the minutes he earned. Hopefully, this style of Temple TUFF football doesn’t die with the departure of Sharga because Rob Ritrovato has shown he can be an effective replacement. If OC Dave Patenaude pushes back on truly embracing a style of offensive football that epitomizes TEMPLE TUFF, head coach Geoff Collins should push him out the door no later than January.



With the satellite tailgates and the main alumni tailgate, the pre-game party atmosphere at Temple was second to none. The two strongest satellite groups were Wayne Hardin’s guys, led by Steve Conjar, and the Bruce Arians’ group, led by Sheldon Morris. The alumni association did a bang-up job with the main tailgate and, for $25 bucks, could not beat the spread or the accompanying giveaways.


Frankie Juice

Frank Nutile, the backup who became the starter, provided some juice when he was forced into action as a starter against Army, a game that was lost due to no fault of his own. (Some incredibly poor coaching defensive adjustments in Army’s last series lost that one.) Juice was the reason for a 36-13 lead over a very good Navy team, not responsible for the Middies getting back into that one. Despite the four interceptions against UCF—when the Owls should have been running the ball deep in their own territory—Nutile is determined to have the seniors go out on a good note at Tulsa and we have no reason to doubt him. (Norm Van Brocklin had four interceptions in a 1960 game against the Cowboys but the Eagles won the NFL championship that year. It’s a bad day, not a career-killer.)


The Theory of False Equivalency

Albert Einstein did not come up with it, but it was on display for the last three months on the Temple Fan Facebook page. Most fans understood that there were many starting AAC championship-level players back (Sharga, Ryquell Armstead, Ventell Byrant, Keith Kirkwood, Isaiah Wright, Adonis Jennings, Jacob Martin, Freddy Booth-Lloyd, Michael Dogbe, Greg Webb, Karamo Dioubate, Julian Taylor, Artrel Foster, Champ Chandler and Delvon Randall, three of five starters on the offensive line, just to name a few) and this coaching staff underachieved with that level talent. Yet, there were a few—they know who their names are—who insisted “this was a whole new team with new coaches” and that Matt Rhule was 2-10 and Al Golden 1-11 in their first year so Collins should get a Mulligan for this year. False equivalency. Rhule had 4-7 MAC talent; Golden had 0-11 independent talent. Hell, even Steve Addazio had a 9-4 first year inheriting a whole new group of players but he was smart enough to stick with Golden’s winning formula.

Thursday: A Throwback Story I’ll Always Be Thankful for

Saturday: Tulsa Preview

Sunday: Game Analysis

Tuesday: Season Analysis

Thursday: Looking Ahead

20 thoughts on “5 Things to Be Thankful For …

  1. Mike, can’t wait to see the comments to this article when I’m sure one of the “False Equivalency” gang over on FB post this. The other thing that group doesn’t seem to realize is that about 90% of the name you listed are gone next season. Which to me makes 2018 much more of a rebuilding season than 2017. Hope there are a number of RS FR ready to step up and Collins has a good recruiting class.

    • I’m sure the Mark L. and Andy S. crowd will be reaching into another completely different bag of excuses next year. The reality is that you won’t have Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings to throw to anymore and maybe the entire defensive backfield will be gone as well as our two best edge rushers. More importantly, I don’t think Vince Lombardi is going to rise from the grave to coach these guys. It’ll be more of a struggle to get to 6-6 and that’s certainly not I envisioned what would happen after two 10-win seasons.

      • Next year is still a long way off and we don’t know who some of the new starters will be, hell I’m not sure we don’t go through another QB decision fiasco in 2018 but looking at the 2018 schedule I would agree with your assessment. I’m thinking 7-5 would be a good result at this point. No ND on the schedule but Buffalo and Boston College are peer level teams, at least record wise and Collins has shown he isn’t too successful against that level of competition (Army and Houston this season), Maryland is probably next seasons UMASS but with B10 talent, and then the same AAC teams in 2018.

      • Maryland is comparable but they beat Texas. I see D.J. Durkin beating Texas, but I can’t envision Geoff Collins beating Texas.

  2. I was using comparable more in terms of record but do expect it to be a tougher game than UMASS, which wasn’t easy. By the way, forgot to add this in my last post but in one of Mark. L’s endless “rebuilding year, give Collins a chance, Rhule went 2-10 his first year” posts he also feel Temple will win the AAC next year. Hope he’s right about that and if so I’l eat a big plate of crow 🙂

    • That would be the best-tasting plate of crow ever but given that guy’s limited knowledge of American football (he is a soccer coach, supposedly), not holding my breath.

      • Plus he thinks playing in Franklin Field is a great idea while the mythical OCS is being built !!!! Sure the AAC would love that while negotiating a new TV deal

      • Stadium control is a concept foreign to him. I love how some Temple fans think we can “pay Penn for stadium control.” Penn’s endowment is $7.9 billion (as in b); ours is $579 milllion (as in m). Penn fans would get a good chuckle out of that claim.

  3. 26k average? Not questioning your total just sounds surprising. Is this ticket sales or scanned tickets into the stadium? Visually it felt the opposite this year. Heck, I was able to go get a beer without playing frogger this season!

    Article is dead on with the false accuracy piece.

    • Ben, I have season tickets up in the club level and I can say there are a lot of folks who stay “inside” and watch the game on the big flat screens, especially when the weather is either hot or damp and chilly like Saturday

    • Based on the sparse crowds I witnessed Saturday, it has to be ticket sales. The 2000+ UCF fans were louder than the Temple fans

      • Caution people about estimating Linc crowds. Went into the Club Level for the USF game last year and could not move. All the concourses were packed with fans (I’d estimate 5K-10K) with most of those fans staying in the comfort of those concourses for the entire game. I was in and out for food and diet cokes, but saw the same faces sitting in there the entire game. Don’t blame them. It’s nice and warm and the 3D TV gives you a much better view of the action than in your seat. 26K in the Linc looks horrible and is horrible, but it’s still 26K. There is no vast Temple conspiracy to inflate the crowds. My Eagle employee friends tell me the attendance released is the actual tickets scanned through the door.

  4. Ah, the good old days. The below summary of the Owls under Rhule fully demonstrates how bad a job the fraud currently posing as the head coach of TU did this season. Graduation does not explain how badly the defense played this season, especially the d-backs. It also shows that Rhule was an idiot to take the Baylor job and that his leaving Temple ruined two programs. Thanks, Matt. And thanks for nothing for recommending Collins to TU when there were several better choices for the job.



    • John, would have rather taken a chance one of the head coaches on that list as opposed to “Mr. Mayhem”. As for coordinators, always a crap shot but it seems that offensive coordinators moving up to the HC position have success sooner than defensive coordinators. What concerns me the most is how a number of former players such as yourself seem to have the same feeling about this guy as a head coach. While I consider myself a reasonably knowledgeable football fan, I think guys like yourself also pick up on more subtle things in a coaches performance as well. At this point I’m hoping worst case scenario Collins can at least keep Temple in the 6 to 7 regular season win range and drop no further than say 3rd in the East. Plus we get the SWAG, the JUICE and $ Downs…..yea
      On another note, read some stories were Texas A&M is going to fire Kevin Sumlin after their last game. Must be nice to have the $$ to be able to can a coach whose worst season in 6 years is 7 wins, which obviously doesn’t meet the expectations of the admin, of course I don’t know if anything else is going on there.

      • When a school fills its stadium six, seven Saturdays a year and it’s in a conference that pays out tens of millions in revenue sharing you can do that. Moreover, those schools charge three to five times as much as TU does for tickets. And yes I would have taken a chance on a guy who has been a successful head coach rather than on a defensive coordinator who never was a head coach at any level. I would hire Sumlin in a heartbeat. Having a winning record in the SEC is an achievement not to be taken lightly. Moreover, his dismissal, if it happens, stems from the UCLA game the first weekend of the season when they blew a huge lead. People are still pissed about that.

        I want Collins gone because he makes football 101 mistakes like not knowing how to run a prevent, misusing timeouts, making obvious calls, and not adopting a system that best takes advantage of the personnel currently on the team. He should be fired just for his (non) use of Sharga. Sharga played great on D against Army and yet I don’t believe he’s been used that way since that game. At the season ticket holder party, Mike Gibson and I spoke to Collins as he was walking around and Mike said to him that Sharga, essentially, should never leave the field and he agreed and said that he was going to use him that way. As we all know he lied. By the way, a successful coach would have installed plays that used Sharga as a decoy. Play action on those plays on those short yardage plays would have worked 99% of the time. Instead, we got an obviuos wild cat that cost TU the UConn game.

        Collins is clueless. I also hate the use of the gimmicks he’s made part of the program like Money Down.More often than not, the only team getting paid has been the other team. More importantly, he was not smart enough to realize that he did not have to change a thing to continue TU’s success and he didn’t. I could undewrstand it if he installed a completely new offense but he didn’t and installed the same offense Rhule was so unsuccessful with. That’s stupidity on steroids. It’s so maddening to hear the announcers game after game say that TU should be running the pro set run oriented offense that worked the last two years. When the announcers know more than the coach only bad things can follow.

      • Collins lied to us, John. There’s no forgiving him for that. I thought he was the CEO. He ceded way too much power to Patenaude. I don’t see him as a taking-the-power-back guy like Matt Rhule was, so I also want him gone but I know the reality at Temple is they don’t fire coaches. As you heard me tell Pat Kraft, I was excited about him firing the soccer coach for reasons that did not involve soccer. Hell, that might be the first time I’ve ever been excited about anything soccer-related in my life.

  5. no Owl fan in their right mind wants Temple to lose to Tulane..,

    ok then, what happens if Tulsa does win? will one or both coordinators stay? will the spread offense stay? will Russo and Centeio stay? so many unanswered questions…,

    TUFB had a brand in 2015 and 2016, it disappeared in 2017.., what will be the brand in 2018? this team does not have an identity on either side of the ball..,

    what should we anticipate in 2018?

    my main concern is it take two full seasons to learn and play well in a new system.., a change of coordinators means back to zero on the learning curve, real challenge since both coordinators need to go

  6. What is better for long-term goals: The Temple coaching staff recruiting star student athletes and building depth or going to a bowl game. Rhule seemed to like the recruiting option his first, second, and last years.

    • Beating Tulsa is a win/win. If you love the kids who play for Temple (I do), beat Tulsa. If you love Collins, beat Tulsa. If you hate Collins, beat Tulsa. If you only hate Patenaude and aren’t all that excited about Taver Johnson, go Hurricanes. Since Temple is not firing a 5-6 Collins, I say let’s go beat Tulsa and win a bowl game against (probably) a FIU-type team.

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