Best of TFF: The Rod Carey Hire

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Rod Carey celebrates the 2018 MAC title win over Buffalo one month ago.

Editor’s Note: Bill Maher takes off the entire month of July. We’re only taking off the first week. In this space, we are filling it with a “best of” TFF. (Not our picks, but readers choice by page views of from 2018 and 2019 posts capped with our most-viewed post of all time on Friday.) This appeared after Rod Carey was hired.

One of my tailgate friends, a former Temple lineman named Ray “Big Cat” Haynes, had this selfie reaction shaking his head after watching his beloved Owls lose to Villanova a few months ago:

“What did I just see?”

Followed quickly by another selfie with this remark:

“I’ve seen the sizzle. I want the steak.”

done

Sizzle was all the accompanying window dressing Haynes saw during the game–like Money Down signs–steak was a win over a crosstown foe Temple needed so desperately to have that afternoon. The Owls were embarrassingly outcoached by Villanova and not a single Temple fan was happy that night.

With Temple hiring Rod Carey, the Owls get steak after a couple years of sizzle. He wasn’t my first choice (Chris Creighton of Eastern Michigan) or my second (Lance Leipold of Buffalo) but he definitely is a less-risky pick than any Power 5 coordinator out there. Even the guy who might have finished second, former Maryland head coach Matt Canada, got killed by Geoff Collins and Temple and that would have been a harder sell than Leipold, who actually did beat Collins and Temple.

happily

There were a lot of balls in the air that made this a difficult hire for Dr. Pat Kraft, the Temple AD. The disastrous hire of Manny Diaz left Kraft with three contracts to honor, then interim head coach Ed Foley, current interim HC Fran Brown and one of LB coach Gabe Infante. It might have been he could only get his fellow Indiana alumnus, Carey, to bail him out and agree to take those three onto the staff. We may never know but we do know those spots are guaranteed.

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Hmm. Carey does something the great Geoff Collins was unable to, beat Buffalo

What we do know is the Owls are getting a ready-made FBS winning head coach for the first time since hiring Wayne Hardin in 1970 and that worked out pretty well (80-50-2). We also know that Temple is now Indiana East with 2000 grad Kraft and HC Carey (Class of 2003). Temple Chief Financial Officer Kevin Clark also served at Indiana in the same office of former Temple President Neal Theobald, who was CFO in Bloomington before taking the job as President of Temple University.

Carey is the most successful, in terms of winning percentage, head coach to be hired by Temple since the legendary Pop Warner in 1933. Temple followed the same formula by hiring Wayne Hardin in 1970 but abandoned it until now.

College football is a little different now than it was then, and Hardin’s Navy record (38-22-2) was more impressive than Rod Carey’s 52-30 mark because it came against a higher level of competition. Hardin won a major bowl game and had Navy ranked as high as No. 2 once. That’s like present-day Temple hiring a current Power 5 coach who had his team ranked No. 2. Even though the Owls got a $6.5 million buyout windfall recently, the landscape of college football is not going to allow for a school like Temple to hire a Nick Saban or a Dabo Sweeney.

Temple now has the money to do what Power 5 schools almost exclusively do, though, hire successful FBS head coaches.

It says a lot about how far the Owls have come in that they are able to get an accomplished head coach rather than roll the dice on another unproven assistant. Mostly, they’ve been lucky enough to keep their heads above water since following the Al Golden model in 2005.

 

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Golden did a superb job reviving the patient with CPR and left after nine- and eight-win seasons. The university then handed over the reins to Florida OC Steve Addazio, who used the Golden talent to go 9-4 with a bowl win. Temple dodged a bullet, though, when Boston College took Daz off Temple’s hands after a 4-7 season.

Then came Matt Rhule and a two-win learning curve season (with arguably six-win talent) and sizzle-more-than-steak Geoff Collins (15-10 a lot of learning curve losses and a subpar mostly FCS-level staff).

Now comes the steak of Carey and a more FBS-level staff. Only time will tell if it’s well-done but at least the chef has cooked something that tasted pretty good before.

Wednesday: Sockless Geoff Collins

 

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