Signing Day II: Epic Fail

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 and 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.


I don’t think the phrase RPO ever came up when Matt Rhule closed this deal.

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


21 thoughts on “Signing Day II: Epic Fail

  1. Carey has zero aspirations of coaching at a higher level. Bad for Temple. Initial impressions, based on facts, are he wants to create a non-threatening NIU type of environment on N. Broad Street. Six or seven wins, go to a bowl game, sit back, and rock steady.

    He is extremely happy with this 2020 recruiting class. Why? He recruited his comfort zone. The BoT loves a non-threatening environment, even at the financial disaster.

    Welcome to a prolonged period of mediocrity and irrelevancy.

  2. Not a fan, he doesn’t connect…anyone can see that. I love the TU and the fam. But, I don’t see a winning season and I do see a rapid decline. I hope I am wrong but the article clearly depicted our current state of affairs.

  3. So when the program finally negotiates a big buyout contract, it’s for a guy we may not want to have around for the long haul anyway. Typical Temple. If they fire him what is his guaranteed take? Probably a lot which means Temple, based on past history (ie: Bobby Wallace staying way too long), won’t get rid of a failing coach. I sure hope he surprises us and comes up with more decent seasons than crappy ones.

    • 52-30 at NIU but that was with RPO quarterbacks (Jordan Lynch, etc.). Don’t force-feed that system on Temple with a pocket passer. His inability to improvise and adjust was directly responsible for 55-13, 62-21 and 42-21 way more than the kids’ performances. Will he learn after one year? It took Matt two years to learn and that was almost too late.

      • Well, even with the blowout losses Carey did have 8 wins his first season – much better than Rhule’s. So the question begs, can Carey improve or will he regress? Seems like he has a plan, so as usual, wait and see. This latest QB recruit may be the ticket for Carey’s preferred O?

  4. How I’m supporting the Owls, XFL Style …..

    P.J. Walker is the Houston Roughnecks’ starting quarterback after winning a competition with former Raiders quarterback Connor Cook.

    Colin Thompson backup TE on the Tampa Bay Vipers

  5. I firmly believe TU FB HC RC is not this obtuse. I think he has several non-scholarship Full-Back types and Linemen, coming in.
    From this group he will find 1 -2 serviceable starters down the line.

  6. HC Must Haves for this generation of College Football:
    1. Ability to Out-Recruit your conference.
    2. Develop Players through teaching, coaching, and mentoring.
    3. Lead and Motivate. Get the very best out of your team when it counts.
    4. Strategist. Out coach the opposing sideline on game day.

    How would an outsider grade Carey? Most likely,
    1. D
    2. ? (too early to judge..,)
    3. C blowout losses, and Roche/Yeboah/Centeio opting to play elsewhere
    4. B+ beat two Top 25 teams, second half adjustments could be better

    Carey IS our Dunphy. A decent and honest man. He can coach on game day but is personality challenged. We should not expect stellar recruiting classes in the near future. Kids will come to Temple for Temple, not because they want to play for HC RC.

  7. Mike, 72 is better than five of the last seven classes. Rhule’s numbers were 77, 69, 80, and 59. Collins’ were 119 and 84, and Carey’s was 104. We are being delusional if we think we’re suddenly going to vault into the 40’s or 50’s regardless of who the coach is. 2016 probably would have been higher had Rhule stayed but even so with many recruits staying it was a so-so 59. Also 69 and 72 are essentially the same. In addition, as noted in a response to your previous post, there are several good players left in the portal. Don’t know if TU has any scholarships left though. In the end, we have to be realistic. Not that long ago just a winning season was all we wanted. TU is still a hard sell to many people because of its location. The myth that the campus is a dangerous place is hard to dispel. Ask your suburban friends who haven’t visited the campus in the last ten years what they think of it. Until Carey completely lays an egg, all of this pessimism is way premature.

  8. Mike. A little off topic, but we are attending TDECU stadium today to see an XFL game of the Houston Roughnecks. I’m in the unusual situation of having to root for P.J. Walker as our starting quarterback. Its kinda weird, like crossing the streams in ghostbusters. Good luck to you and your new owls in all your future games, except maybe one.

    • Could be somewhat deceiving in that a lousy team could have their top performers coming back, but that doesn’t necessarily make the team good.

      • That’s true but the ECU QB is a stud who played lights out the second half of the season. The league is getting better from the bottom.

  9. Appears he lost 5-7 lbs and recaptured natural quickness/agility. Carolina Panthers in his future.

    • I thought the same thing and that would be something. I believe that he was hampered his entire senior season by the cheap shot he took after scoring in the PSU game.

  10. Temple football needs a coach w/ the ability to infuse energy and enthusiasm into the program. As a previous post mentioned, “this guy just doesn’t connect”. His inability to infuse energy was apparent in his special teams play. Special teams is not about 5 Star recruits, it’s about scheme and energy, both were severely lacking in 2019. For the special teams not to have improved after such a horrid start is a real bad sign. For the team to get smoked in the bowl game leads me to believe this team had zero energy to play UNC. Sometimes it takes a leader to infuse that into 19-23 year olds. Another issue is high school coaches and recruits with social media being what it is today see your tight end and one of the top defensive players in the AAC leaving the program. That’s a really bad sign and is unfortunately contagious, once you start going down the “this guy is a dud, lame duck coach” you are going to have years to get back to the top 1/3 of the AAC. This was a poor hire. I’m not a grad but as I said previously in posts, “I’m the guy that lives in Philly that really likes TU football, the type of fan this program needs–you put a guy like Rod Carey from powerhouse NIU (0-6 in bowl games, now 0-7), I’ll sit home and watch college football on ESPN.”
    This guy will obviously be here another year, he will suck and then you will be looking for a new coach and starting over again.

    P.S. Aaron Mckie (although I like the guy) hasn’t been lighting the world on fire this year either.

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