Red Flags and Temple football


Red flags and green flags for the Owls

This is the only red flag Temple fans should care about.

Anyone who even casually follows auto racing, and I emphasize the casual part in my case, knows what a red flag means in that sport.

It means “conditions are too dangerous to continue” and that “cars are advised to proceed to the pit.”


A month ago, I would have said the 2020 season was definitely a green flag. Outside the linebackers, who were very good, just about everybody who made a difference was going to be back in the fold.

Since then, the best center in the country (Matt Hennessy) decided on the NFL draft, where he will probably be a 1-3 round NFL pick. The best defensive player in the AAC, Quincy Roche, decided another school would increase his chances of being picked in the NFL draft in 2021. The tight end decided first on Baylor and then on Ole Miss. The backup quarterback, who was a nice insurance policy if Anthony Russo went down, skipped town.

When will the bleeding of talent ever stop?

Even if it has, my expectations for the 2020 season have been knocked down a peg. If the 2018 and 2019 Owls could win eight games, I thought for sure the 2020 Owls would have a really good chance at double digits and an AAC title.


Screenshot 2019-11-28 at 9.55.07 PM

This was it for the losses a month or so ago. It’s gotten much worse since.

Unless head coach Rod Carey pulls a couple of rabbits out of the hat by February signing day, I’d have to find my Cherry and White-colored glasses to think that 2020 will be anything more than a 6-6 season. Honestly, do you see Carey as that kind of magician? Good game day coach, for sure, but there seems to be some evolving evidence that he doesn’t have the same connection with the kids that coaches like Al Golden and Matt Rhule had. He’s got the X’s and O’s part down pat, not so much the Jimmy’s and Joe’s. Really, what can Carey do at this point to excite the fan base? Maybe sign the 1,000-yard running back in the portal from NIU or a Power 5 defensive end. That’s about it.

I can’t say for sure that Carey has lost the locker room but it would be hard for me to believe that if, say, Al Golden was here the connection between players and the coaching staff would have been enough for a lot of the kids who left to stay. Hennessy, to me, was a goner but losing Kenny Yeboah and Quincy Roche really hurt. There is absolutely nothing any objective observer can say to convince me that they would have been better off elsewhere than Temple.

For some reason, they believe otherwise.

Power 5 programs who lose talent can survive because those programs routinely recruit four- and five-star talent. A program like Temple cannot, especially when I don’t notice a similar exodus from UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis. Just look at the Miami opener, for instance. When the Owls beat Georgia Tech, 24-2, and Miami lost to Georgia Tech, 28-21, a couple of weeks later, winning in Miami next year seemed not only possible but probable.

Since then, though, the Owls lost a lot and Miami gained a lot, including Houston quarterback superstar D’Eriq King.

Cars might not be advised to return to the pit in 2020 but if fans remain in the parking lot and do not go into the stadium it’s because these red flags are directing them there. Not me, because even in 1-11 seasons and 20-game losing streaks, the game was always the thing. But the Temple fan base, on the whole, is more softcore than hardcore and deciding to make game day more about the day than the game will be a product of success or failure.

Since fans can’t go in the portal, their only option is to declare for Lot K on game day. It’s up to Carey to give them a reason to believe now and he’s running out of time.

Friday: The Dotted Line

36 thoughts on “Red Flags and Temple football

  1. Crazy what the Power 5 brand sells. The best offensive and defensive players in our conference will be playing for a coach who can’t scheme Xs and Os for his life.

  2. What do TUFB and Fran Dunphy have in common?

    Rod Carey

  3. Coach Rod Carey has a 6 year contract here for approx. $1.85 Million per.
    We understand he came form a contract tenure at NIU for what, about $ 650K. He has already made enough now with Temple to be set for a long time. Even if he is only fair-to-midlin with coaching success here, which I suspect to be, he is financially set.
    With these conditions, if there is no progress, I see him settling in like say Bobby Wallace.
    Carey will be able to bank a lot towards his retirement. I assume his ‘retirement bennies ‘ with Temple will be nice also.
    Hey, maybe Temple needs to find that old ‘morals clause here ‘, just kidding, or am I.

    • Except for that unbelievable win over VT, Bobby Wallace was a disaster for Temple football and never should have been allowed to stay as long as he did – even at Temple. Hopefully Carey will do much better even if at a mediocre level.

  4. Your evaluation of the current Temple football program is spot on! It is not very comforting to realize for long time (often suffering) Owl alumni and fans. After that fantastic 2015 season most thought: we are finally there, a legitimate, successful major college program with a super coach and a bright future! We beat Penn State and almost beat Notre Dame on the same day that College Game Day was here! At this point, however, with the transfer portal situation and questionable recruiting outlook (looked great under Collins, Rhule and Golden), we can only hope for the best! Things like the thrashing we took this past post season in the Military Bowl on national TV, the coaching carousel and a half-empty stadium for home games (also on regional and national TV for most games) obviously do not help to burnish the Temple football image! Then there’s the uncertainty of having our own on-campus stadium! I wish I wish I could be more positive, but it is what it is!

    • I try to keep it real, James. Because Carey was a professional coach who does a way more decent job on game day that Collins, I was excited about him for awhile. Now the red flags are coming out from everywhere. I think Roche and Yeboah would relate a lot better to a guy like Golden and maybe even Toddy. We seem to take one step forward and two steps back way too often. It’s really discouraging.

  5. Frankly, none of us know why those players left. Until I here from credible sources that they did so because of Carey, I’m not going to engage in speculation. Fact is that a lot of G-5 players have gone into the portal including Houston’s QB, a kid who said he wasn’t going to and was treated very well by Houston’s coach. I bet there are other examples out there where a kid transferred only because he believed that the grass was greener in another place. I do agree that the prospects for next season have diminished but lets let it play out before hanging Carey out to dry. If he grabs a couple of good transfers and one or two more good recruits, the sky, as yet, is not falling.

  6. I wouldn’t mind seeing us plunder NIU’s top talent.
    If Carey brings in some key players in his coming class I’ll be very optimistic, especially if he gets some of the top local guys.
    I think we all agree the blueprint for success is keeping the best Philly guys home and finding some underrated talent a bit farther afield.

  7. I wouldn’t mind seeing us plunder NIU’s top talent.
    If Carey brings in some key players in his coming class I’ll be very optimistic, especially if he gets some of the top local guys.
    I think we all agree the blueprint for success is keeping the best Philly guys home and finding some underrated talent a bit farther afield.

  8. By the way, San Fran yesterday demonstrated that power football can succeed and is the way to beat teams geared to stop read option offenses. Cannot understand why more coaches aren’t taking advantage of lighter linebackers and secondary players geared to stopped the RPO.

    • Does it really matter why they left? The fact is the only TE in TUFB history to have a multi-touchdown game, and the conference Defensive Player of the Year are unexpectedly gone.

      Has Carey replaced them with comparable talent? No. Suddenly the DE position is a glaring weakness. Zero depth and zero sacks.

      What is the over/under on Roche sacking Russo? Two, maybe three?

      What will Carey do besides watch his OC bleed to death…,

  9. Looks like portal dinged Florida. Franks, the starter who got hurt last season, is transferring to Arkansas. One can only hope that other P-5 schools suffer such losses because those schools will realize how damaging the portal can be and will move to reign in the abuses of it.

  10. Franks did a Wally Pipp and lost his job.

  11. Mike raises some excellent points here and this is certainly a worthy discussion. I was positive on the Carey hiring at the start but that enthusiasm diminished as the season went on and was extinguished by the bowl game.

    I’m not a fan of the Carey offense. Patenaude had his holes but when you offense goes nearly 100 points backward from the prior season, that’s not good.

    The special teams went from asset to liability.

    There were four losses that gave off really bad vibes – Buffalo, SMU, and a pair of 42 point blowouts. The team quit on the field a few times this year. Not Temple Tuff at all.

    We did see some good things during the season. Jadon Blue and Remahn Davis come right to mind. There was more than that.

    No sense for a player leaving the program to bury Carey on the way out as that’s a bad look no matter where they are headed. But too many players are voting with their feet and that says more than any words, especially if they are going to play for Mr. 17 Day tenure. #2 seems to be reinvigorated in his auditions for the next level.

    Can Carey restock? What is his pitch to get top level AAC talent to come here? We’ve fallen a step behind the top level teams in the conference. 13 years of progress are on the line.

    The low expectations crowd on the Facebook page will probably be good with 6 wins and bowl eligible. I think TUFB should be better than that.

    • The question now is not the pitch to come here. The real question regarding Davis, Maijeh, Blue, and others is the pitch to stay here.

      Roche and Yeboah set a precedent for the best players on the team with eligibility. This is a first in the history of TUFB, best players w/eligibility on the team leaving for another school.

      This is a nightmare for G5 schools and a dagger for Carey. Now with a year under his belt and our direct observations, is it realistic to expect Carey to retain kids like Davis, Maijeh, and Blue?

      He didn’t recruit those kids…, and the OC walks with a thousand cuts.

      • On the pragmatic hand, in this ‘all about me’ era, why should these kids stay? the coaches who recruited leave.

        Do as I say, not as I do has never been a good argument..,

        Nobody likes it but we can’t find fault w/Roche or Yeboah…, they watched and learned from the men who recruited them.

        The NCAA is a big mess.

      • We have watched college football become less and less of an amateur sport, one played by student athletes. No more, the rich get richer while the lower level programs remain second and third tier without ever having any hopes for a national championship or even being semi-competitive with the top echelon! The transfer portal and coaching rollover have been major contributors to this. Throw in big TV contracts for the major P-5 conferences and now star athletes being able to be paid big bucks by advertisers. Sad to see it go! But then I;m old enough to remember when Ivy League teams such as Princeton (All-American Dick Kazmaier) and Penn (Concrete Charlie) were national powers back in the 50s.

  12. And today, really big non-conference games announced with Wagner (2021) and Norfolk State (2023). That will have them knocking down the doors to see.

    • St Joe’s Prep would give TU a better game and probably bring more people. I’m only being half facetious.

    • That says more about where the university’s overall view of football is with the current BOT and President than anything I’ve seen recently. Don’t think Bill Bradshaw would have allowed Temple to play Stony Brook, Bucknell, Norfuck State, Idaho and Wagner. Wagner lost to East Stroudsburg State (university, but I still call them state) this year by double digits. Complete farce. I don’t want my university–the sixth-largest educator of professionals in the country–associating in any way with these schools, particularly on the football field. We belong with the Rutgers, Penn States, the Marylands, the Syracuses, the Pitts, the Boston Colleges and the West Virginias. If those schools are not in our current league, we need to play them in the non-league portion of the schedule. If we can’t beat them on the football field, then we need to hire a coach who will.

      • The issue I have here is that you want your cake and to eat it. You simultaneously say that some schools are beneath Temple to play, but then say that P5 schools should play Temple. Like it or not, they’re above Temple right now. You want them to allow trickle down, but don’t want Temple to pay it forward and offer trickle down below them? That seems a little selfish.

      • Right! Rutgers, Penn State, Maryland, Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College and West Virginia are all good regional teams within reasonable distances from Owl Country. We have scheduled all of them in the past and should schedule them again for non conference games, not the Bucknells, Wagners, Norfolk States or Idahoes of the college football world! Add UVA, Va Tech, Army or Navy to this group and you have a terrific regional conference setup, something Joe Pa wanted long ago! Of course that will likely never happen!

  13. I have been a long time reader of this blog who only recently started posting comments a few months ago. I am a proud graduate (1978) and supporter of TU. Been there for the good and the bad but at the end of the day this is just a sport. A big factor for lack of attendance is TV. I go to at least 1 game a year, but the urgency isn’t there when I can watch every game without having to drive 1 1/2 hours. Back in the day we were lucky to have 3 games to watch n a Saturday. We need to realize the times have changed and the sport has changed. We will never be an elite program. Our local HS football team (#80) has been struggling for years in the league they are in (#91) but I still support the school. Same with TU football, go to the game and enjoy the day. In the big scheme of things, does it really matter if we win 4, 6, 8 or 10 games? An ironic thing about football and TU alumni support, about 6 months after I graduated I received a call now that I was an alumni did I want to make a donation to support the athletic program. I said no, and sent my support to the school that that provided me with an education, not the department that provided entertainment. For those of you in your 60’s like me, don’t keep harping on the past. Thinking we will become an elite program with 50,000 in the stands each week is not going to happen, so I have chosen to accept that sit back and enjoy the game day experience either at the Linc or with my buddies at the house or a bar. Keep the faith everyone and enjoy those special moments (upset of Va Tech, playing PSU close then finally beating them, putting a scare into teams such as Pitt, W Va, ND). As my Dad always said, “Things can always be worse”. Thanks for this great blog, Go OWLS!!!!!!!!

    • A sobering and reasoned response. Factors outside of our control are working to take us down and, really, the entire G5. Don’t know what Carey can do to stop this.

    • Much of what you have stated is true. I really don’t believe there are many Owl football supporters who harbor delusions of grandeur in terms of becoming an Alabama or a Clemson, or to ever complete with these type programs on a regular basis. Like you and many other “mature” alums, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly (sadly, too much of the latter two)! But I am still a loyal Owl, and plan to be that way until either I or the program no longer exist. I believe we are right where we should be right now, in a respected conference (clearly the best of the G-5) where we are competitive on a regular basis.
      So let’s gooooooooooooooo Owls!
      CU in k-Lot at pre-game tailgate this fall (that is assuming we have a reasonable new contract with the Iggles)!

  14. In the words of John “Bluto” Blutarsky: My advice to you is to start drinking heavily

  15. the G-5 would make more TV money if it had it’s own championship in a playoff format.

    I heard Mack Brown make a reasonable argument several years ago. I rejected then and support now.

    One of the NY6 Bowl venues could pick-up the championship game on a rotating basis.

    • While I see the benefits of doing so, it would mean declaring that G-5 schools are second class. That would render them 1-AA and that didn’t work out so well for the !-AA schools. Many went out of business and very few have attendance above 4 or 5 thousand. The media would treat them as second class citizens as would the P-5 schools. It would be a death knell. Also, as long as there are G-5 schools that believe that they can get a golden ticket to the P-5, it will never happen.

    • Great story. CTE is why I believe we won’t have football in 100 years. It’s already starting. The program that gave us Nate Smith (and the Eagles L.J. Smith) no longer plays football on the high school level and it’s a fairly decent-sized high school. Many high schools across the country have discontinued football not necessarily for CTE reasons but because parents are funneling their kids full-time into other, less contact, sports and the numbers aren’t there.

  16. I’m not a TU grad, but I’m an avid fan of TU football. The type of guy the program needs to help attendance. I’m seeing a repeat of the Dickerson, Wallace eras with Carey. There is a lack of football discipline on the field (to not have improved special teams during the season was criminal) and sidelines (shenanigans on sideline as a mediocre UNC team is embarrassing you in a bowl game).

    I’m all for giving a guy a chance, but if you go 1-2 years too long w a coach that isn’t the guy (Carey) at Temple your rebuild becomes significantly longer as you don’t have the luxury a PSU or even a UNC team has of rebuilding in quick fashion. Golden got it going, Rhule elevated, Collins left before he could screw the pooch, this guy is taking the program backwards.

    Who do you then lose, casual fans (which you need to fill seats), recruits, transfers, alumni $, administrative support and you have to start the whole process again.

    You have to hope you catch another Golden or Rhule which ain’t easy. I like tailgates, cold chillywhackers and collegiate football but Wagner and Norfolk State doesn’t feel like a game day atmosphere to me. At that point, I might go watch Nova or West Chester play (they could beat Wagner and Norfolk State).

    Leadership is driving the program down the wrong track. Your AD came from Loyola of Chicago, c’mon. People might be angry at how Bodensteiner handled Martelli at st joe’s but she knew what needed to be done to get to the next level. It was time for Martelli to go, she had moxie from her tenure at Notre Dame to not settle for the status quo. Temple needs leadership w moxie, hiring a guy from NIU who is now 0-7 in bowl games is not the way to take the next step.

    I will still come down for beers at the Linc, but I might not be there quite as often if this coach is given too long of a chance-sometimes you just know, this ain’t the guy.

    • Mahalo my brother.

      Calibrated perspective from the type of fan TUFB desperately needs.

    • Totally agree! I keep going back to that fantastic 2015 season where we beat Penn State and nearly beat Notre Dame, both sellouts! College Game Day was in town for the the ND game! National TV! Super coach! We were on our way to bigger and better things! But now, as mentioned before, the coaching carousel and transfer portal are taking their toll! This upcoming season is a critical one for this second year coach IMO!

  17. Can’t argue with that. Very close to saying I was wrong on Carey but he needs to get me a montel Harris-type portal signer by Feb 4 it might be that time. Point being: does Carey feel the same sense of urgency in 2020 that daz felt in 2012 after losing pierce? Doubt it.

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