Maybe it was being spoiled by the two years BGC (Before Geoff Collins).
Maybe it was the six weeks spent in the Top 25 one year, followed by seven weeks in the Top 25 the next.
As I saw it then, Matt Rhule set up GC pretty well for the next two years. The talent level was going to be Top 25 caliber for awhile and the momentum seemed to be there to keep the ball rolling.
The major difference
between the coaching
transitions at UCF and
Temple was that Josh
Heupel did not change
a thing about the
of his team, while
Collins allowed Patenaude
to completely gut an
offensive identity that
worked just as well
In the prism I look through, every year Temple should do exactly what those 2015 and 2016 Temple teams did (either compete in or win the AAC championship game). Temple is the only school in its conference playing football in the exact geographic center of 46 percent of the nation’s population and should, in my mind, be able to recruit enough great football players to dominate a league of teams from places like Hartford, Greenville, Tampa, New Orleans, Orlando and Dallas on that fact alone.
Mix in the fact that Temple is a great university–one-sixth of the nation’s professionals are educated here–in the only World Class City (as named by the International Heritage Foundation) in any college football league, either P5 or G5. Stir another tidbit, that most “regular” students in all surveys prefer a city environment for college to a rural one for their college experience, and Temple is in a most attractive position for recruiting.
Temple should dominate this league.
Something happened in between and, in my mind, it was abandoning the offensive scheme that these players were recruited to excel under (three-down fullback, two tight ends, establish the run and use play-action fakes for explosive plays in the downfield passing game).
It won’t dominate the league this year because its much-ballyhooed defense on Thursday night couldn’t tackle a drunk fat guy stumbling out of a bar at 2 a.m. It won’t because its offense could score only six in the second half after scoring 34 in the first half and the OC seemed more satisfied with the first half than disappointed with the second one (see video at the top of this post and thanks to Bob for supplying it). It would seem to me that scoring more than six points in the second half against the 91st-ranked rushing defense in the nation should not be all that hard, especially with backs like Ryquell Armstead, Jager Gardner, and Tyliek Raynor. Give those guys a caravan of blockers in the form of H-backs, fullbacks and tight ends in motion and it’s a pretty good bet that the Owls don’t have the red zone problems they suffered from in the second half.
Now you say it’s still mathematically possible for the Owls to win the league but too many difficult things need to happen. First, the Owls have to run the table. That’s the minimum. Second, either Navy, Cincy, and/or USF would have to beat UCF. Central Florida would have to lose twice. (I could see Cincy beating UCF but not USF or Navy.) Cincy could run the table and have the same loss in the AAC East that Temple has and Temple would be playing in the title game, but that’s not happening.
So what is the bright spot?
The bright spot is simply this: Even IF the Owls had won the AAC, there is probably no way they would represent the G5 in an NY6 bowl and, if you win the league, you should probably go to an NY6. The Owls forfeited that slot with two brutal opening losses where they were outcoached by a team that started 0-4 in an FCS league. Nobody is going to pick a G5 team with an FCS loss for any New Year’s Six bowls.
So what could happen?
A strong argument could be made that Temple could even lose to Houston and win the next two and still be in the same kind of bowl game with a 7-5 record that it would be with an 8-4 one. Hell, Temple could have probably won the league and not received a better bowl with a 9-3 record that it could with a 7-5 one.
That’s the bright side. The league would probably allow the Owls to pick from the either the Military Bowl (where they could play a beatable ACC team like Syracuse or Virginia Tech) or the Birmingham Bowl (where it could play a 6-6 SEC team) and that would probably be the best bowl matchup for Temple since UCLA in 2009.
And probably a lot warmer in Birmingham than Annapolis.
Next year, we can all get back to looking into that tunnel and demanding that the Owls take their first games as seriously as they are taking the last few and play in the same championship games they did in consecutive years before the current staff got here. The major difference between the coaching transitions at UCF and Temple was that Josh Heupel did not change a thing about the offensive identity of his team, while Collins allowed Patenaude to completely gut an offensive identity that worked just as well for Temple.
That’s the Top 25 baton the Matt Rhule staff handed off to the Geoff Collins’ one and, so far, it’s been dropped twice.
How many times do we have to say “maybe next year” for a return to the Top 25?
Wednesday: The Dark Side
Friday: The Houston Side
Sunday: Game Analysis