Temple’s Rod Carey Has Good Company


Since the presser started 14 minutes late, advance timestamp to 14:01

The two best coaches I’ve ever known are both gone now but had very similar personalities and approaches to the game of football.

One, Wayne Hardin, was the best college coach I ever knew and the other, Mike Pettine, Sr., was the best high school one. I feel blessed to have known both so well.

Neither was loved by his players during those playing years. Those coaches were more fathers than brothers, who basically said “if you live in my house, you live by my rules.”

Both maintained the only fun in football is winning.

All the players loved, even worshipped,  both years later. The kids then, now adults, realized they were playing for a tough taskmaster whose only goal was to get the most out of their talent and that’s the best love of all.


Legendary TU linebacker Steve Conjar (left) feared being called into Wayne Hardin’s office as a player, but loved him like a son years later.

I thought about that because a lot of what I heard at the podium in person from Rod Carey on his first day as head coach of Temple University was what I heard from Hardin while covering the Owls for The Temple News and what I heard from Pettine from covering perennial state champion Central Bucks West in the late 1970s through the 1980s.

Both coaches were respected by their players but there was a dash of healthy fear there, too.

Pettine got the most out of 5-10, 170-pound players than any coach I ever saw and coached a school that had no more than 1,000 boys to a 324-26-2 overall record.

Hardin also did the impossible, taking both Navy and Temple high up the national rankings. No coach has had Navy or Temple ranked as high since Hardin and for some pretty good reasons.


CB West never jumped offsides or had false starts because Mike Pettine made sure they ran the drill until they got it right.

Hardin and Pettine set the boundaries between player and coach by laying down the law.

Carey did the same on Friday afternoon, repeating, “Do you hear me?” twice and getting a “yes, sir” from the players in the back of the room. I haven’t heard Temple players say yes sir to a coach in a long time.

That was a “wow” moment because it reminded me so much of Hardin and Pettine.

Carey said he would not talk about being tough because tough teams don’t need to talk about it, that they just are tough.

Carey talked about building trust over time because he knew it would be disingenuous to do otherwise.

More than anything, though, is that he promised to be real and that the players would eventually come to appreciate that.


If this scene is replicated in December at Lincoln Financial Field, all of the hard work in practice will be rewarded. Suggestion to Carey: Make Isaiah Wright the starting tailback and it will be.

For me, at least, the last two Temple coaches attempted to be “buddies” or “friends” of the players a bit too much. Under the last regime, there was too much talk about swag and money downs and too little action and too many times you wondered if they ever even practiced. Two seasons ago, for instance, in a 16-13 win over Villanova, the defensive line was baited into three-straight offsides’ penalties. That simply does not happen if business is taken care in practice during the week. In the prior regime, Temple was called for 148 yards in penalties in a 34-27 loss at Penn State, robbing the Owls of a chance for consecutive victories over that program and similarly robbing a G5 league champion a win over a P5 league champion. Get even under that low bar of 100 yards of penalties and the Owls win that game. Practice is the time to get things cleaned up.

You can be a good coach as a brother figure.

Only father figures make great head coaches.

Carey is showing clear signs as being among the latter group, just like Pettine and Hardin were and, to me, that’s the best compliment a head coach can get. It’s going to be hard for Carey to be as smart as those two guys were because they were true geniuses, but at least the emphasis getting down to work is there.

The hard part will be spring and summer practice. The fun part will winning on Saturdays and that’s the way it should be.

Wednesday: Foley and Brown Debrief Carey


10 thoughts on “Temple’s Rod Carey Has Good Company

  1. Besides your points, 1) he didn’t negotiate on the buyout, 2) he took over at NIU and was their third HC in three years, so he knows about the importance of continuity to the players and 3) cognizant of the necessity of back yard recruiting.

    • Heard him on the halftime show interviewed by Harry Donahue. He said he would wrap up the staff “anything between 10-14 days.” I hope he makes Fran Brown the recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach at least. Also hope he keeps Ed Foley and Adam DiMichele. Fran Brown might be the best recruiter Temple has ever had, and I’m including Al Golden in that group. Golden could sell ice cream to the Eskimos.

  2. I’m anxious to see who else he adds to his staff. Hope he also keeps Infante. And it would be nice to see him add a former TU player who played in the NFL. I don’t know who that might be. But it would be nice to have a coach that recruiting prospects can identify with as an example of TU sending players to the NFL. Combine that guy with Brown and Infante and Carey doesn’t need to worry about the rest of his staff not having ties to this area for recruiting purposes.

    Anyway, as much as I hated to see the Eagles loss, it was nice to see Kirkwood do well yesterday. I don’t know how he was rated coming out of high school, but he’s a NJ kid that came to TU. I hope Coach Carey understands that a big part of TU’s success over the last decade or so is finding the Keith Kirkwood types in this region. I don’t think the recent SEC coordinators who came to TU understood that. In fact the treatment of the fairly highly rated local QB’s over the last few years seemed to run contrary to fostering good local recruiting ties. But that’s in the past.

    Good luck Coach Carey. I hope you really get to understand the whole Temple Tuff thing.

  3. Mike, I was not a fan of the money down signs, some of the play calling on offense, and the way we started 2018, but I can confirm that under Collins the team did say “yes sir” a lot. I hope that we have a blend of old school and swag (the players love the gear and the twitter feed), with the thumb on the old school side of the scale. The program is on an upswing all around, team gpa, graduation rate, winningest class, bowl games, etc… let’s just hope Carey can keep it going.

  4. Hi Mike.
    While I really like the Carey hire, and really respect what Pettine did at a public school (showed how great coaching at the high school level can make a huge difference ) , how well do you think this “old school” type of coaching will resonate with today’s college athlete? I am definitely with you, but I am not sure it will be enticing to today’s athlete. I hear athletes nowadays saying there are multiple ways to get to the top – (just heard this yesterday about young players ) you can either get up the hill the old school way pushing a blocking sled, or you take a helicopter. Either way you get there, but one is a much easier method.

    Last year Thing – Down memory lane – I remember back in the 90s when state championship games were played in Altoona and CB west played upper st Clair. I think CB West had about 700 + yards total offense and didn’t even attempt a pass. Crazy. Dustin Picciotti would run off guard and off tackle it seemed every play. Pettine said stop us if you can, and obviously they couldn’t. Great teams – great motivator.

    • Just look at the title game this year…1 old school guy 1 new school guy (dabo)…what I like is that they have a new school recruiting guy (Brown) and an old school guy to coach them up

      • Just heard that Gabe Infante went from LB coach under Manny Diaz to RB coach under Rod Carey. Got to love the versatility of the guy but, if Carey wanted to get the St. Joe Prep kid (who will be the No. 1 QB recruit in the country in 2 years), he will make Infante the QB coach. 🙂 There’s still time.

  5. stan hixon was a good coach, sorry to see him go

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