Owls Need Experience at DC


When Matt Rhule was putting the final piece to the puzzle that was his Temple coaching staff, he said to me over the phone two days after he was hired that “I have a older guy with a lot of experience in mind and with a young coaching staff, I think that’s the kind of guy we need.”

I later learned that was Phil Snow.

After a rocky start at Temple, Snow put his defense in place and, by the second AAC championship game he coached in, there were few better in the country. I wasn’t a big fan of Phil at first, but he won me over four years later when it took him that long to put in his defense.


All but one of the above played for Rapone at Temple

Geoff Collins might be wise to consider the same approach now that Taver Johnson is headed to Ohio State to essentially fill the 10th coaching spot Adam DiMichele filled at Temple.

With all due respect to Andrew Thacker, he simply doesn’t have the experience at an important position that a school as large as Temple should demand.

Nick Rapone, who was the defensive backs coach with the Arizona Cardinals (Temple West, located in Tempe) for Bruce Arians, does and he has the ability to put any type of defense in at a faster rate than even the Sainted Phil Snow did for the Sainted Matt Rhule. You want real Mayhem? Hire Nick Rapone.

Rapone’s daughter graduated from Temple and Rapone himself has some deep ties to Philadelphia and the Owls, having served two stints as an assistant here already.

As DC at  Delaware, Rapone was a part of two NCAA national runner-up teams, including in 2010 when he helped the Blue Hens to a 12-3 record and a share of the Colonial Athletic Association title. Rapone was named the 2010 FootballScoop NCAA Division I FCS Coordinator of the Year as his defense led the nation in scoring (12.1 ppg), ranked fifth in total defense (280.7 ypg) and was 12th in rushing defense (105.3 ypg). The secondary included four All-CAA performers, including All-American selections Anthony Walters and Anthony Bratton at safety. The Hens also ranked ninth in the nation in passing efficiency (102.7), and the team’s 21 INTs were the third-highest total in the nation at the FCS level.

He was the Owls’ defensive coordinator under Arians and the Owls more than held their own as a defense against two top 10 schedules under him.

Most importantly, he’s available and he does have extensive DC experience at the highest levels of football, not at developmental programs like Kennesaw State.

That’s what Thacker does not have nor did Johnson. Neither of those guys have any history of stopping offenses. Rapone has a long and storied one.

Like Rhule said back then about Snow, I think that’s just the kind of guy Temple needs.

Collins should at least pick up the phone and give him a call.

Or vice-versa.

Valentine’s Day: Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes

Friday: A Closer Look at the AAC Schedule

Monday: Developmental Program?

2/21: Philly Special

2/23: New Transfer Rule





20 thoughts on “Owls Need Experience at DC

  1. Here’s the problem. Few chief executive officers have enough confidence to hire someone smarter or more successful than they are. I would say that Rapone has had more success being a coordinator than Collins. Collins’ Florida team his last year was not very good. That being said such a view is myopic given that winning is the ultimate goal and if the ceo has to take a back seat sometimes so be it if it leads to success on the field.

  2. what is our identity on defense? and more importantly, what will be our identity next season?
    Previously, Temple recruited the type of players to fit in a Phil Snow type of scheme…,

    what kind of players are we recruiting now and for what type of scheme? inquiring minds would like to know..,

    • Pretty much recruiting pass rushers on defense although the guys who will be playing the next two years were recruited to fit Snow’s cover 2 scheme. By the time, the players who should cause Mayhem will be on the field, Collins will be gone and we won’t know until then if these pass rushers can also stop the run. It’s a Catch-22, not a Cover-2.

  3. Some good points regarding Thacker’s limited experience. He could turn out to be a good DC right from the start or it’s another year of learning curve. To your point, would rather go with a successful proven commodity but don’t see Collins make that kind of move. It will be amusing if you post this one over on the FB page, there is a certain group over there led by the Temple employee running Pravda who will I’m sure vehemently disagree and feel that Thacker is the “greatest thing since sliced bread” and how the coaching staff is the re-incarnation of Pop Warner, Lombardi, Hardin, etc.

  4. I hope (and suspect) Coach Collins reads this blog for the honest critiques it provides of the TUFB program. Further to John’s comments is how CEO’s surround themselves with “Yes-men”. I called them bobbleheads because of they way they nodded approval of their bosses comments. Anyway I hope CC can put his ego (and possibly his cronyism) aside and gets the seasoned DC as suggested here. It’s in his interest to do so. TU is his audition for those P5 jobs that pop up every year. In fact, I hope the guy he hires is so good, CC can win another conference championship. Then move on with his Temple replacement on the staff for coaching continuity.

  5. Mike you were never a fan of Taver since day one. 4 months ago you asked what has Taver Johnson done to merit him being hired as DC at Temple? Apparently Urban Meyer thinks highly of Taver.

    Besides Nick Rapone status with AZ is up in the air. He could be retained by the next HC for the cards. With his experience, he has a better shot of catching on with another NFL team. Or a P5 college team.

    Collins will

  6. Andrew Thacker will be our DC, we are currently in the market for a Safeties coach.

    • Not too late to upgrade the staff if you can add a guy like Nick and move Andrew back to linebacker coach

      • most of the teams in the AAC runs some variation of the spread.., shot gun, three /step second release.., etc., Snow ran his system and modified it to beat the teams in the AAC…, first things first, win your conference..,

        what type of defense will Thacker employ to beat the teams in the AAC? will he feature and push everything to the Will LB like Snow?

        we don’t have the physical big corners to play man, so are we playing cover 2? will we go with our strengths and put four LBs on the field? who knows?

  7. Bear Bryant was on record (film session) that he wanted assistants smarter than him because he learned things and they made him look better. When they inevitably got head coaching jobs elsewhere, made it that much easier to hire a quality replacement because of the path forward that was in place.

    Previous poster correct that evaluation of candidates has to include assessment of players and type players that are on the roster to determine if there’s a fit with new coach and players.

  8. Interesting turn of events with the staff, Rapone discussed here, Kevin Ross brought up on the FB page and it looks like Collins will be adding a D2 (for most of his career), as the new addition to the defensive staff, Nathan Burton. He could be an excellent addition and Collins has history with him, but it would have been nice to add someone to the staff who had more of a track record if not at the FBS level at least at a good FCS program. By the way, isn’t West Alabama where Bobby Wallace ended up after departing Temple?

  9. 18 Schedule has been released: Nova, Buffalo, Maryland, Tulsa, Boston College (whoopieee!!), ECU, Navy, Cinci, UCF, Houston, USF, UConn.

  10. Bye Bye Taver. Not sad to see you go. You allowed a running team with a cold QB pass his team 80 yards down the field with one timeout. Your defenses looked lost too many times this season and you clearly did not advocate for Sharga to play defense. Despite the fact that Sharga was a force in the Army game, he was not on the field for the final drive and in overtime.

    • put your best players on the field when the game is on the line – period.

      Taver would be a P5 DC, or G5 head coach in 2018 if he was such a great hire last year…, heck, he has taken a giant step down…,

      Thacker is an unproven commodity at best.., let’s all wish him the best of luck for our own sake…,

  11. Could Burton have coached the Patriot’s DB with the game saving INT in the Super Bowl a few years back? If so, maybe he is capable of imparting wisdom.

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