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.
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.
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.
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