From the day the regular season ended, the expectations from this Temple football fan for next season was a minimum double-digit in wins and an AAC championship. There were that many impact players returning.
Then the dominoes fell.
There are moving parts here,
though, in that next year’s
team will be primarily recruited
by Geoff Collins and Matt Rhule,
so there is some hope but these
coaches also were primarily
responsible for coaching that
talent down to 55-13, 42-21 and
62-21 losses that should have
never happened. In the above video,
Temple head coach Rod Carey talks
about the “culture here” but that
culture hasn’t included three such
losses in a single season in almost
a decade so you’ve got to wonder
about the culture
The Owls, a touchdown underdog to a 6-6 UNC team, were blown out, 55-13. Then they lost one of the top three centers in the country, Matt Hennessy, and the best defensive player in the AAC, Quincy Roche, and a real good defensive back in Harrison Hand. I hoped all three would be back. None will. That, combined with losing three great linebackers as a part of the normal attrition in college football, lowered the bar a little.
I recalibrated those expectations from 10 to six wins based on that alone.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of good players on this team–from quarterback Anthony Russo (who has a chance to put up the best career stats of any Temple signal caller next year) to wide receivers Jadan Blue and Branden Mack, running back Ray Davis, seasoned offensive linemen (Vince Picozzi, Isaac Moore, Joe Hooper and Adam Klein), defensive players Isaiah Graham-Mobley, William Kwenkeu, Audley Isaacs, Ifeanyi Maijeh, Dan Archibong, Kris Banks, Arnold Ebiketie, George Reid, Amir Tyler, DaeSean Winston, and cornerbacks Christian Braswell, Ty Mason and Freddie Johnson. Geez, BUT those guys needed Hennessy, Hand and Roche to go to war with them to go from good to great.
Maybe, though, the second signing period would produce acceptable replacements for the guys who I thought would be back.
Like if the Owls could do a couple of things–like getting portal help from Miami defensive end Scott Patchan and Rutgers center Michael Maetti–move that bar back up to eight. What happens if Ray Davis goes down? Do we have an elite level college football tailback to replace him? No.
Instead, as a result of Signing Day II, where the Owls got only two players who couldn’t play at a high level at Wake Forest and West Virginia and an offensive line transfer from Dayton, Michael Niese, the needle was moved back to six. The need for a great running back to replace Jager Gardner wasn’t even addressed. Both Scout.com and Rivals.com had this class rated in the middle of the AAC pack. The West Virginia transfer, Kwantel Raines, a 6-3, 205-pound freshman safety, played in six games and had nine tackles.
I hope I’m wrong but if the Owls recruit in the middle of the AAC pack, that’s exactly where they should expect to be.
There are moving parts here, though, in that next year’s team will be primarily recruited by Geoff Collins and Matt Rhule, so there is some hope but these coaches also were primarily responsible for coaching that talent down to 55-13, 42-21 and 62-21 losses that should have never happened. In the above video, Temple head coach Rod Carey talks about the “culture here” but that culture hasn’t included three such losses in a single season in almost a decade so you’ve got to wonder about the culture. The “Temple football culture” has never been run-pass option. It’s always been smashmouth downhill running and explosiveness in the passing game off play-action fakes. I don’t think Matt Rhule ever recruited Anthony Russo by selling an Elite 11 Level pocket passer on an RPO.
Recalibrating expectations lower might be OK if you are a head coach who makes $2 million per and has a $10 million buyout, but as a Temple fan, I got used to being in two straight title games and two-straight 10-win seasons and that’s the level where this coaching staff should aspire to be.
Now we’re coming off two-straight eight-win seasons and looking under every rock, I don’t see seven wins next season let alone eight and not filling the holes that needed to be filled in this crucial second signing period is not a good sign.
Carey said he wants people who “want to be here” but if the AAC player of the year doesn’t want to be here (and we fans want him here) and is replaced by a guy who couldn’t get on the field for Wake Forest, the only way that can be interpreted is that a great talent doesn’t want to be here and lesser talent does.
Usually, the team with the better talent wins. Unless that formula changes unexpectedly, we’re pretty much bleeped next year.
We should find by Miami if it will be an enjoyable year or not (hint: no more 55-13 losses are acceptable) but the indications are not good. Right now, whatever Vegas sets as the win total, I would advise my betting friends to take the under. (I don’t bet Temple football so it’s moot to me.) Signing Day II was the last day to convince me otherwise and, in my mind, it was an Epic Fail.
Give me more than eight wins and I will repost this in a year and apologize. It’s hard for me to imagine that scenario now.
Monday: The records are this close