If the prior coaching search at Temple, the one that took place less than a month ago, was all about hurrying up to meet the early December signing period, this one was about waiting.
Then hurrying up.
Since there was only one other high-profile FBS job available, Temple athletic director Dr. Pat Kraft had to wait for what the Power 5 school (West Virginia) did and then move on after that. Kraft didn’t only have egg on his face after the Manny Diaz Fiasco, he had a whole Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast. No use hiring a guy on Thursday, only to have him move on to West Virginia on Friday.
We are exaggerating for effect. We think.
First, the waiting part.
Since West Virginia hired Troy’s Neal Brown–arguably the most accomplished proven FBS head coach out there–yesterday, Temple has a smorgasbord of pretty decent candidates to choose from and about $8.5 million to spend on a head coach ($6.5 million in buyouts and Geoff Collins‘ regular $2 million salary) to spread over the next five years.
This time none of the candidates have a place to jump to after 17 days. One or two years maybe, but not 17 days.
The Owls can pay Dana Holgorsen money for a superstar like current Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold or national coach of the year Jeff Monken (Army) or they can dig back deep into the coordinator churn pile for someone like Texas DC Todd Orlando. Leipold is probably out because he has shown no interest in the Temple job (not everyone is), although the concept of hiring a guy who kicked Geoff Collins’ ass with Buffalo talent is more than intriguing. Temple produces NFL players so Monken and his triple-option is probably out and hiring another team’s coordinator after Diaz probably would probably not be received well by the Temple fan base demanding a splash with the newfound money. Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton pulled a minor miracle in an impossible place to win this year, but he hasn’t shown he can sustain it like Leipold and Monken.
Now Temple has money for a “splash” hire and one opportunity to spend it.
Really, a solid argument can now be made with Neal Brown gone that Leipold is the only “splash” candidate out there. Seven National championships plus an FBS division championship sets him apart from the rest. The only two times Temple went for a “splash” candidate, Wayne Hardin and Pop Warner, it turned out pretty well.
The only two times
Temple went for a
Wayne Hardin and
Pop Warner, it turned
out pretty well
Popular hirings among a certain segment of Temple fans would be Al Golden and Todd Bowles. Golden gave Temple five great years–a lot longer than 17 days–and still has a tremendous relationship with many long-time Temple fans. He probably saved the program and turned a 0-11 season before he got here into a nine- and an eight-win season before he left. He still has terrific recruiting contacts up and the East Coast and good relationships with Ed Foley and Adam DiMichele. He probably has the competitive instincts to prove was better for Temple than Rhule or Collins. Kraft could not go wrong in bringing him back but we don’t know if he’s even interested. Bowles would be popular with players of the Bruce Arians’ Era but he would be a much harder sell in that he hasn’t really won anywhere.
Now the hurrying up part.
When Diaz left, Kraft issued a statement that emphasized two words: Excellence and stability.
Fran Brown, the current interim coach, represents “stability” and is well-liked by the players. Still, since he was seen not as a guy who could take over the Temple head coaching job 23 days ago, it’s hard to sell excellence and Fran Brown. Mike Elko, Don Brown and Manny Diaz were by reports the final three in the first search. Elko pulled out of the first search and used it as leverage to sign a new deal at Texas A&M.
That leads us to Don Brown. Of those mentioned so far, he brings both stability and excellence. He has all the big-time coordinator experience (BC, UConn, Maryland, Michigan) of the other coordinator churn pile guys but a 95-45 record as a head coach at three schools. That’s excellence. At 63, Temple would be his last rodeo and he can say with a straight face at the press conference that he’s not going anywhere. Another plus is that this will enable Fran Brown to learn how to be DC (not co-DC) under Don Brown’s watch and make him a more attractive candidate for the Temple job when Don decides to retire.
The narrow criteria of “excellence” and “stability” could make this hurry up phase of the second search go pretty fast and that’s what one Brown can do for Kraft that the other one cannot.
Monday: The special circumstance now