Coaching Shuffle: It’s Who You Know


When it comes to getting an assistant coaching job at Temple, as anywhere, it really comes down to who you know.

Geoff Collins.

If you know Geoff Collins, you are in, and that was pretty much what happened with the hiring Nathan Burton as safeties coach after being the “quality control” coach at North Carolina State last season.


Coastal Carolina soft

Burton met Collins when he was walk-on in the last century at Georgia Tech and Collins was a graduate assistant there.

Prior to his time with NC State, Burton served as the defensive coordinator at West Alabama for three seasons. West Alabama was the place where former Temple head coach Bobby Wallace finished his career after making his chops at North Alabama.
Burton was hired as safeties coach but will take over the entire defensive backfield due to the exit of Cory Robinson for Rutgers. Robinson had been the defensive backfield coach at Temple last year.

To me, that was addition by subtraction.

One of the most disappointing areas of the team was the play of the defensive backs. Three starters returned from the AAC championship team and a fourth, Mike Jones, eschewed a chance for being a late-round NFL draft pick last year (Mike Mayock had him projected as the steal of the sixth round of the 2017 draft) to play for Temple.

Time and time again, the Owls were burned by touchdown passes late in the games (particularly Army and Navy) and they appeared to be out of position and the communication was not there like it was two years ago. Fran Brown and Phil Snow did a much better job with essentially the same players.

Defensive coordinator Taver Johnson, who presumably had a role in that miscommunication, was “demoted” to co-coordinator, probably saw the handwriting on that wall and took a lesser job at Ohio State.

Larry Knight will take over the linebackers, a role current defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker had last year. Knight had been the “director of player personnel.”

To me, the Knight move was interesting considering that he performed that same role at Georgia State in both 2015 and 2016.  Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross, probably overqualified to be DC and DB coach at Temple, expressed interests in the open jobs through back channels. No doubt in my mind they would have been better for the kids than the guys hired, but Collins is comfortable with who he hired and it is Collins who will sink or swim with them.

Would I like to see more ex-Temple guys like Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross included in this staff? Sure, but they did not know Collins before now and apparently Collins apparently did not have the same comfort level with them.

At least those of us who care about those things still have native son Adam DiMichele and adopted son Ed Foley. Hopefully, that’s enough to swing the pendulum of the offense back in the direction of Temple TUFF and away from the Coastal Carolina SOFT we witnessed too much a year ago.

The defense is pretty much all Collins anyway. Maybe it takes a year to install the Mayhem we have been promised. Let’s hope so because I didn’t see any evidence of that last year, the lone exception being the bowl game.

Wednesday: Comparing Staffs


6 thoughts on “Coaching Shuffle: It’s Who You Know

  1. outstanding assessment and insight on defense…, we will underwhelm on offense as long as the OC stays in Philly

  2. not to burst your bubble, but Coach Knight worked the OLBs at Georgia STATE not Georgia TECH, big difference. Still an FBS school nevertheless.

    • Thanks. Fixed. On initial release, which I printed out, it said: “Georgia Tech.” That changes everything. Temple should be looking to hire guys from Georgia Tech, not Georgia State, and the Arizona Cardinals, not Kennesaw State (where the current coordinator hails from). It’s a shame when guys like Rapone and Kevin Ross express interest in coming back and helping their old school that interest is not returned.

  3. Yeah, I managed to get to the Nova game and after awhile, sitting between people I didn’t know, made a statement “so where is the mayhem D? It was answered with some snickers (the laugh type, not the candy bar type). And as you said Mike we never saw it the rest of the season.
    I once had a job where I was told “let your staff fail to then improve.” Of course I was also under great pressure to get the job done within unreasonable deadlines, so not time for mistakes – so, excuse my micro managing. But maybe that’s something Kraft should consider a bit more for Temple to sustain success and improve – you know, step in and be more demanding with these assistant coaching choices?

    • like most in our world today, you can only get what you can pay for.., Temple pays slightly more than FBS schools and pays considerably less than P5 schools….., case in point Taver Johnson…, he got a significant pay raise by taking a lower position at OSU…,

      Temple simply can’t compete for the top assistants.., we have to gamble on under the radar guys

  4. Could Burton have been at UWA when the Patriots’ Butler was playing there and have coached him?

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