On the morning Geoff Collins was hired, while finally finding my keys, stashing my wallet away and picking up the cell phone, I looked down and it was ringing.
“Mike, what do you think?” a friend of mine said.
“Think about what?”
“Temple finally announced The Guy.”
“The guy from Florida?”
“Yeah, isn’t that exciting? I think it’s a great hire.”
“I guess,” I said. “From some of the guys on the list, he’s probably the best one.”
These are guys who
not only do not
TUFF but include an
who intentionally sabotaged
the very fullback-oriented
offense that gave Temple
20 wins in two seasons.
That was an offense and
a toughness Temple fans
came to know and love
The list included guys like K.C. Keeler, Danny Rocco, Neil Brown and Matt Canada. Keeler was a failed head coach at nearby Delaware and resurrected his career at Sam Houston State. The other guys were FCS head coaches or FBS coordinators.
Not the kind of list Dr. Pat Kraft should have doodled for an Owl program that had long stretches in the top 25 in consecutive regular seasons.
Underwhelming at best, disappointing at worst.
Given that backdrop, my “I guess” response was appropriate. If Collins had brought with him a national championship Florida coordinator and a Florida quarterback coach—like Steve Addazio did with DC Chuck Heater and QB coach Scot Loeffler—that’s one thing. It’s quite another when your top assistants are from Coastal Carolina and Kennesaw State.
By comparison, Collins has surrounded himself with incompetence and, because of it, has placed a once-great program in jeopardy of a historic free fall. Here’s the empirical evidence:
These are guys who not only do not understand Temple TUFF but include an incredibly arrogant offensive coordinator who intentionally sabotaged the very fullback-oriented offense that gave Temple 20 wins in two seasons. That was an offense and a toughness Temple fans came to know and love. It was an offense that perfectly epitomized the toughness of the school, its students, the alumni, the city, the neighborhood, even the corner of the practice facility. It was an offense that had a purpose, with the run setting up a play-action fake and every play seemingly setting up an explosive play in the passing game. Run the ball successfully with an elite tailback behind an extra offensive lineman (fullback Rob Ritrovato) to bring the linebackers and safeties up to the line of scrimmage. At that point, the defense is susceptible to a deft ball fake that freezes the linebackers and safeties in their tracks and allows the quarterback to find open receivers everywhere. Now, nothing sets up anything else except a five-yard loss on a handoff. This scatterbrained offensive scheme, pardon my language, is complete bullshit that every single one of the 20,000 or so current remaining Temple fans rejects without question.
My feeling was then and still is now that Temple as a program after consecutive 10-win seasons and two appearances in the league championship game reached a point where it could and should have hired an accomplished head coach and did not need to roll the dice on another coordinator again.
Make no mistake, hiring a coordinator as a head coach is a crapshoot. Coordinator and head coach are two different jobs. Just because you are good at one does not translate being good at another.
The checker at your local grocery store might be the greatest bagger in the history of supermarkets but that doesn’t mean he would make a good store manager.
You could end up with a guy like Al Golden or Matt Rhule or a guy like UConn’s Bob Diaco.
All three had impeccable credentials as a coordinator—Diaco was FBS coordinator of the year as DC at Notre Dame—but there’s plenty of evidence where great coordinators fail as head coaches.
So here we are, not long removed from being a Top 25 (albeit regular season) staple to one coming off a loss to the local FCS program and a team from a lower conference (Buffalo) that the Owls beat 113-13 in their last three meetings with them.
How did we get here?
By rolling the dice on another coordinator when Temple football got to the point where it could attract an accomplished head coach. Owls rolled a seven and 11 on the last two coordinators. It was only a matter of time until their luck ran out.
That appears to be the case now.
If Collins can prove to be Temple TUFF enough to upgrade his coordinators, he has some hope for resuscitating both his career and this precious program, whatever he values the most.
If not, none of us have any hope for anything.
Friday: Fizzy Offers Some Constructive Advice (6 a.m. publishing time)
Saturday: Maryland Preview
Sunday: Game Analysis