A New (Old) Twist to Single-Digit Tradition


Tyler Matakevich was the ultimate single digit, a walk-on turned national POY

What do new Coke, Team Jeopardy and the Temple football single-digit tradition under Geoff Collins have in common?

All represent a failed attempt to improve a product that was already perfect.

Fortunately, we can say for all three traditions, sanity has been restored.


The Temple football single-digit tradition was established by Al Golden with one purpose in mind: Have the players all work hard to achieve a goal and have them recognize other players who have stood out among their peers. Voting was limited to players only because Golden always felt that they know who the tough guys wearing the numbers 1-9 were. Matt Rhule, who coached under Golden, felt the same way.

Two carpetbaggers from Florida, Steve Addazio and Collins highjacked the process by picking the tough guys with only limited input from the players.


Much to his credit, new head coach Rod Carey has brought back the tradition the way it was intended.

“We’re going to let the players pick them,” Carey said. “From listening to some people here, that’s the way the deal was originally intended and I kind of like the players having control of that.”

Screenshot 2019-03-06 at 10.31.42 PM

A question on Jeopardy last week.

There are a couple of things there that impress me about Carey. He’s willing to listen to the Temple guys–most likely we’re talking assistant coach Ed Foley here–and he wants full player participation in this endeavor.

I like it, too.

Players get in the meeting room, write the guy’s name on a piece of paper and drop it in a hat and the guys with the most votes get digits 1-9.

The only sad thing here is that offensive linemen are prohibited from NCAA rule from wearing the numbers 1-9. Otherwise, you know guys like Dion Dawkins, Kyle Friend and current center Matt Hennessy would be wearing them.

As a big Jeopardy fan, watching the show in the last two weeks was pure torture because there was much discussion about strategy than playing the game. We were back to the show the way it was originally intended and it was a good enough game to begin with that never needed tinkering. Alex Trebek, who is facing an uphill cancer battle, established a solid brand with a good formula that never needed to be tinkered with.

The same can be said of Temple’s single-digit brand.

Leaving the single-digit tradition at Temple to a players’ only deal falls into the same category. Kudos to Carey for recognizing that.

Saturday: Making That Money


8 thoughts on “A New (Old) Twist to Single-Digit Tradition

  1. Maybe the linemen could be singled out by having one or two numbers be reserved for the honor? Kilroy’s, Rienstra’s, or Kleck’s numbers be reserved, not retired. About the only way to distinguish them.

  2. I’m trying to find where Coach Carey said this. It wasn’t in The Athletic interview. Can you post the link?

    • Just saw this in the “to be approved” queue. Sorry, busy. Heard it on a basketball halftime interview with Harry Donahue. Don’t think there’s a link.

  3. Or, by thumbing a nose at the NCAA, put a zero before a single 1-9 number.

    • My feeling about Carey is that we finally have a coach who knows what he’s doing on game day and not some one who has to learn to be another team’s head coach on TEMPLE’s dime. That is a good thing, not a bad one

      • We will find out if these NIU fans are right or your suspicion is right. We won’t find out by Cherry and White or Bucknell for sure, but I think we should know after Maryland and GT for these reasons: Geoff Collins is a highly overrated head coach (my opinion) and Mike Locksley is 3-31 as a head coach. 15-10 and 3-31 pale in comparison to 52-30.

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