Sometimes you have to look back to look forward.
Today is one of those times.
Geoff Collins is now Georgia Tech’s problem.
In my mind, at least, he earned no higher than a “C” grade in his two years at Temple. The Mayhem promised really never materialized and his defensive reputation never transferred with him to Temple, where the Owls were torched for 52, 45 and 49 points in three important games, only one of which was a win. He had 10-win talent in his first season and won seven and probably an even better team in his second and won eight. A good grade (B) would have resulted in more wins than that. A great grade would have been beating the teams he should have beaten and won a game or two against teams he was not favored to beat.
To me, the essential questions after the Collins’ departure is, “Do you believe Collins was JUST a good coach for Temple and do you believe there are better coaches than Collins for Temple?”
The answer to both questions is yes and I believe Rod Carey is part of an unidentified number of available head coaches who would be BETTER for Temple than Collins was. (I also believe guys like Chris Creighton and Lance Leipold would have been better, but we will never know.) What we do know is that a staff at James Madison University, led by current ECU head coach Mike Houston, was able to beat Villanova with JMU talent 37-0 only a couple of weeks after Collins’ staff lost to the same team, 19-17, with Temple talent.
Whether Carey is better will be determined in December, not before. These are five things that we will not miss about Collins:
Above The Line
For a number of great reasons, the tradition of the Temple depth chart will return and not something vague as the “above the line” concept of Collins. I have not talked to a single ex-Temple player who ever thought getting rid of a depth chart was a good idea. Mike Curcio, a great Temple linebacker who later played with the Philadelphia Eagles, told me nothing motivated him to become a starter than seeing his name as No. 3 on the TU linebacker depth chart. Above the line served no useful purpose. Now the players know where they stand and what they have to do to move up the depth chart and that’s a good thing.
Nothing made more a mockery of the money down thing than for Temple to be rated No. 129 in third-down conversions halfway through the season than to see “money down” signs on third down. While the Owls improved after that, they were in debt most of the season.
An Offensive Abomination
Nick Sharga’s lead blocking as a fullback for tailbacks Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead was as big a reason as any for the 2016 Owls winning the AAC title. The two combined for nearly 2,000 yards of rushing and Armstead scored 14 touchdowns, 13 of them behind devastating Sharga blocks. Before the 2017 season, Collins promised that “we are going to use (Sharga) even more than they did last year” and that “I’m his fullback coach; he’s the best fullback in the country.” Yet Collins stood idly by and did nothing as his OC, Dave Patenaude, eliminated the fullback position at Temple. Patenaude was probably the most ill-suited coach for Temple, head or assistant, since Jerry Berndt. His passing on first-and-goal after Isaiah Wright was tripped up at the 1 cost the Owls a win at Army in 2017. His passing on first-and-goal at the Navy 7 with 1:28 left and the Middies with no timeouts left resulted in an interception and a near-loss. His game-calling against Villanova directly resulted in one loss and nearly another. Only 45 offensive touchdowns on a 2018 team that included Anthony Russo, Ventell Byrant, Armstead, Wright, Branden Mack and Rob Ritrovato was malfeasance of the highest order. Atlanta is going to love this guy.
WWE Superstars at Practice
Collins had WWE Super Star Titus O’Neil visit practice in the week before the 2017 Villanova game. I can’t imagine how that helped the Owls avoid three-straight offsides penalties that the defense incurred in that game.
Less Talk, More Action
At Rod Carey’s first press conference, he said that good football teams don’t talk about being tough they just are. Collins talked a lot about juice. The hope here is that the juice will be seen and not heard.
Friday: Comparing First Seasons