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.
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