Once things return to normal, what next?


Gabe Infante is a legendary high school football coach in Philadelphia.

In as perfect a world as possible for Temple football, Rod Carey would go from eight wins his first season to double digits his second and win two championships every six years along a couple of bowl games.

I’m not greedy enough to think Temple winning a championship every year is possible because a lot of schools like SMU, UCF and Cincinnati are also trying to do the same thing. Still, Temple is in a perfect geographic spot–the exact middle of 46 percent of the nation’s population–and should be able to pan enough gold from that mine to dominate the AAC.

The world has changed a lot in the past two months, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming about what could be once everything gets back to normal. Everything will get back to some semblance of normal because the Spanish Flu–which killed far more people in 1918 than this virus will in 2020–did not last forever.


National High School Coach of the Year Gabe Infante will have a positive impact on both Temple’s game plans and recruiting

After a year of watching Rod Carey, here is what I think is more likely to happen when things return to normal: Rod wins 6-7-8 games a year, probably doesn’t get Temple a championship and, as a consequence, does not become the hot prospect Al Golden, Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins were seen as. Temple, for its part, does what Temple always does: Keep mediocre coaches around forever.

There is, though, a possible third scenario where Carey makes Temple the NIU of the AAC and grabs a lot of championships and increases his 5-2 record against Big 10 teams to an even more healthy number. Maybe even wins a bowl game for once but that probably won’t happen at Temple if he delivers a title first (see Matt Rhule).

That means someone will eat Carey’s hefty buyout ($10 million this year, $8 million next and $6.5 million after Year Three), Temple would get another championship and everybody will be happy.

What happens then?

Temple could go back to hiring promising coordinators or grab another successful MAC-level head coach.

Or do something different, like elevate an assistant.

IF they go in the latter direction, they could do a whole lot worse than Gabe Infante, who is local, knows the recruiting landscape in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and, for a decade, had the second-best coached football team on the planet in St. Joseph’s Prep. (I will concede that the Bill Belicheck teams of this century were better-coached in a tougher place to win, the NFL.) Side note: As a long-time afficianado of high school football, there was no better-coached, least-penalized team I’ve ever seen at that level than St. Joseph’s Prep. The Hawks’ offensive line sprinted to the line of scrimmage–every other team walked–and then would pummel the defensive line on each and every snap. That’s damn good coaching right there.

If Infante can take an inner-city school six  blocks from Temple to being the Pennsylvania power of this century, he can work wonders up the street with a lot more resources and a $17 million practice facility.

Something for Temple AD Pat Kraft to put in the back of his mind when things get back to normal.

Monday: Two Steps Back, One Step Forward



15 thoughts on “Once things return to normal, what next?

  1. Gee Mike, Infante is better than that coach years ago up at Central Bucks West (in Doylestown) who was always in the state playoffs and won the state championship for the first time in 40 years with an eastern PA team? If so, since Temple apparently likes to take chances on unproven coordinators and so-so Mac HCs, they may as well try a guy like Infante whose an assistant at the college level. If they can do it with McKie, why not for the football team? I like it!

    • I would say best living high school coach. If Mike Pettine were alive, his 3-straight state titles would at least be on par with Gabe’s 4 in six years. Gabe lost one of those when his star QB got injured before the title game and even that game went into overtime. So essentially 5 of 6 vs. 3-straight. Interesting, I asked Pettine to apply for the Temple job after Bruce Arians was fired and he said this to me: “Mike, I think Gerry Faust (Cincinnati Moeller to Notre Dame) ruined it for all of us high school coaches.” He was right.

  2. For one thing, the pessimism in me tell me that Carey is gonna be here for the long haul. Lots of 6-6 seasons ala Daz up in BC, which, of course, means that nobody is gonna come knocking for him. And we know for sure the TU isn’t parting ways on their own.

    For another, and I really am asking cause I don’t know, but exactly what has Infante added to the program thus far? He’s been here, what a year and a half? Has he added a significant recruit? Has he done anything to impress with the offensive game plan? I suppose he helped to develop Davis last season right?

    • Surprised how low the bar is in some of these hirings. Chad Morris won 6 games at SMU and that got him a P5 job (Arkansas). Daz went 4-7 at Temple before getting his P5 job (Boston College). Err, maybe I’m wrong and someone takes a flier on Rod after another eight-win year next year but the hefty buyout probably scares suitors away.

      • Yeah, he’d have to do better than 8 wins 2 years running in the AAC for a P5 to pay millions in a buyout – a 9-10 season, maybe. It isn’t like Carey had a great career at NIU and came to Temple just for a raise. He was pretty good there and so far here he had a lackluster start. When Temple finally does something to protect keeping a coach they’re doing it for mediocrity. Daz’s 2nd season stunk but he did win a bowl game in his 1st year while Carey got blown out!.

  3. If TU wants to get out from under the full length of the contract with Carey, perhaps a little restructuring of the existing contract will work for both parties. Assuming Carey has ambitions that go beyond Temple and the AAC (meaning the Big 10), maybe Carey agrees to eliminating the last year (or two years) of his contract for a 50% (or more) reduction in the buyout provisions of the contract. Carey won’t take a pay cut. But he might like the payout revision. I don’t think Carey is right for TU and vice versa. Maybe his ego is such that he thinks another winning season with TU and a bowl win gets him back to the Midwest and the Big10. So it’s worth trying the restructuring.

    And regarding the next coach, I’d still want AG. The man had a knack for recognizing unheralded local talent and getting them to come to TU. Yes, he had his game day coaching issues. But maybe he’s learned from everything since his HC days. But if TUFB survives all of the current problems it’s facing, the priority should be an energetic, charismatic regional guy that can recruit within the 100 mile radius of TU. And conceivably he would be happy to be at TU for 10 years.

    • The only second-chance (there’s a better phrase for that, but it escapes me now) coach who succeeded was the guy at Kansas State (Snyder). All of the other ones, notably Edsalll at UConn, flopped. Maybe that’s why Kraft didn’t make a play for Al but I think Al understands the uniqueness of the Temple job better than anyone out there, including Matt Rhule. Not saying he’s a better coach than Matt but he understands the Temple TUFF culture (fullback, two tight ends, great defense and special teams) better than even Matt and certainly better than Rod. His Achilles Heel was gameday coaching.

      • I think Mack Brown back at UNC is panning out well too. With you fellas and Carey, I think he’s a good-to-great football coach. That being said, as a ‘local outsider’ he doesn’t concern me one bit in terms of recruiting/ program development the way that Rhule and Golden did (though at the same time I think he’s better than Collins was). Rhule leaving when he did reminds me of when Coach Schiano left Rutgers in early 2012-they were right on the precipice of really kicking it into overdrive.
        Also, something we discuss periodically on the RU boards that I thought could make for a good column for you here- some of your favorite ‘underrated’ TU victories that don’t get much ‘play’. I would imagine that many TU fans love/ talk about the PSU win, but I wonder how many talk about say they 2004 syracuse win that helped deny the orange a BCS bid.
        Joe P.

      • One of the things that really sucks about this year is that there is a 50/50 chance that I won’t get to meet good Rutgers’ fans like Joe at a pregame tailgate. Always appreciate your contributions on this site Joe and thanks for your kind words on the RU site.

  4. I really don’t understand the Carey criticism. It’s way too soon and frankly, after an eight win season, unwarranted. At least give him two full recruiting classes before burying the guy especially because any one of us would have built a statue for the coach who could have merely had a winning record year after year. Of course the goal is to win championships. That being said, the campus still is in North Philadelphia. While we know the campus is way safer than it was twenty or so years ago, most people do not and the stigma remains as an impediment to recruiting especially in the suburbs. (Frankly, though, with a gun battle recently at 15th and Girard, a supposedly improving area, how safe is North Philly really?) If the team is mediocre after his third season, I’ll lead the parade calling for a change, Til then, the negativity is based only on speculation not fact and is quite unfair. One more thing. Winning the championship in the AAC is highly dependent on a team’s year to year schedule. For example, this year, TU will play Navy instead of UConn, a much tougher game. And winning also depends on which of the three teams outside of a team’s division it plays. The quality of every team changes from year to year. USF and UCF have a built in advantage because of the wealth of recruits in Florida. That’s tough to beat. All i;m saying is let’s see if Carey can keep the team competitive before discussing his departure. If he’s more Berndt than Rhule we’ll know soon enough.

    • Some early red flags: 1) Getting beat 55-13, 45-21 and 63-21; 2) Stubborness to bring a system from NIU ill-fitting to the Temple talent and not be able to adjust on the fly; 3) … most important, the recruiting. It seems to me Rhule and Golden got much higher level recruits many of whom had power 5 offers, not interest, from schools like Pitt (Adrian Robinson), BC (Kee-Ayre Griffin), etc., etc. Every time I read about a Temple recruit it’s Temple beating out a MAC school for the guy. Even the most recent recruit from Florida (a CB) is touted as “having 11.3 speed in the 100-meter dash.” Hell, Bernard Pierce ran a 10.8 indoors his senior year at Glen Mills. Got to do better with the measurables of the recruits. Temple needs to recruit the Matakeviches, sure, but there needs to be 5-10 guys they beat out Power 5 guys for in every class and Rhule and Golden consistently did both.

    • 3 blowout losses reminiscent of “the bad era of Temple football,” one an embarrassingly horrible loss in the bowl game for the nation to see and the sideline antics of the players is not just speculation. But I agree, let’s hope the missteps are not an omen and see what happens next before any final critique.

  5. Liberate college football. Social distancing at Temple games shouldn’t be a problem: three seats per fan. The tailgate area is already well policed by PPD and PFD. I’m sure I can learn to drink beer and eat crab fries with my mask. We practiced safe sex in the 80’s and 90’s. We can practice safe football now.

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