How Did Temple Get This Bad This Fast?

In any other year, Rod Carey would be on the hot seat at Temple University after a 1-3 start.

As we’ve all found out since about mid-March, this is not just any other year.

In the year of Covid, probably two or three years of it, really, no one is getting fired at any university because the revenue streams coming in are so unpredictable. The Owls are allowed almost no fans this year and next year is up in the air as well.

The university is in the hole for $10 million of a five-year contract to Carey and there is no Lew Katz around willing to eat it.

How did Temple go. in just two short weeks, from the No. 1 team in conference wins (since championship play began in 2015) to a likely 1-7 season?

In a word, Pride. In other, stubbornness.

As King Solomon, a pretty wise guy himself, said: “Pride Goeth Before the Fall.”

In Carey’s case, he had a nice “square peg” offense at Northern Illinois in the RPO and players suited enough for him there to post a 52-30 record as a FBS head coach. When he came to Temple, he found himself with “round hole” players who were more suited to a pro-set offense, and a quarterback who could never sell a defense on a RPO but is damn good at flinging it down the field after the run is established off play action.

Those of us who thought Carey might have been a good hire did so thinking a good coach adjusts his schemes to his available personnel and not try to force an ill-fitting system onto some great players from another system.

I did not see that coming. I thought a professional head coach would be able to improvise and adjust. Carey has not been.

What we learned in Temple’s 38-3 loss to Tulane–a loss that broke an 86-year (five games since the 1934 Sugar Bowl loss) winning streak–was that Anthony Russo is only about 10x a better quarterback than his two backups and that might be a conservative estimate.

Get well soon, Anthony.

Even more than that, though, is that Temple should have been 3-0 coming into the game had the Owls approached the red zone with some simple shit like throwing the fade to Branden Mack on first down instead of dicking around with runs on the first two downs. You’ve got a 6-6 wide receiver and a quarterback more than capable of throwing a fade like this and you piss away two wins by throwing a dump pass short of the goal (Navy) and running straight up the gut followed by a quarterback draw (Memphis)?

This is what Carey should have done for the 2-point conversion at Navy (30-second mark)

If Temple is paying Carey $2 million a year for that, the administration should demand its money back for those two losses alone.

Temple needed a running back and a pass rusher in the offseason but passed up on chances to get running back Ricky Slade from Penn State (who went to Old Dominion) and defensive end Scott Patchan (Miami, who went to Colorado State). Both were arguably better than any player they had here at both positions. Those are administrative errors, but Carey’s coaching errors cost the Owls two precious wins prior to the Tulane fiasco.

Due to missing 13 players (covid) and Russo (shoulder) it is hard to blame Carey for the loss to Tulane but, in the history of college football, rotating quarterbacks has resulted in about zero wins in 1 million games.. That’s why, if Russo is injured, you’ve got about three days to settle on one guy and not use a game as an audition.

This ain’t Hamilton where you audition guys to play the role of Aaron Burr during the play itself.

The Owls have tried two methods of hiring head coaches, one bringing in up-and-coming assistants, and one bringing in a proven FBS winning head coach. They haven’t tried the Greg Schiano Method (hiring a guy who proved he could do the same exact job at a high level), but Al Golden is available. Maybe even a better option is grabbing a local head coaching legend like Gabe Infante, who has been proven to be a great gameday coach.

So far, the prior two methods have been problematic. If Temple goes back to the old way, do you trust Fran Dunphy to identify the next Matt Rhule?

I don’t. Fran is more likely to bring a guy like Bob Diaco than he is a Jeff Hadley.

One led to a revolving door that ended finally after an 18-day turnaround. Another brought in a guy who wanted to do it his way when he was delivered a blueprint for winning at Temple long before he got here.

He ignored it and now we’re stuck with him for three more years. Saturday was ugly, but it’s about to becoming uglier and, unless one of us hits the lottery and are willing to buy him out, we can’t do a damn thing about it.

Brace for impact. To paraphrase King Solomon (and Barry McGuire), we’re on the eve of destruction.

Monday: Fizzy


23 thoughts on “How Did Temple Get This Bad This Fast?

  1. This is the kind of year where people begin to ask the question “do we need a FBS football program at TU?
    Sports are getting cut across the country (see Lasalle) due to colleges taking financial hits, out of conference games and travel budgets are in jeopardy And are getting reduced. You then end up posting a 1-7 record with an uncertain 2021 on the horizon and the questions unfortunately begin to come up. Fans in seats? Students in person classes? There are some administrations that would use Covid as a excuse to suspend (UCONN) or drop a program to an FCS level. Heck, Nova would probably be a tough game this year w this coach. I hope this does not happen and that TU plays FBS football and excels, but you can see how a 1-7 year combined with uncertainty in school revenues can open up some serious questions.

    • Your points are correct but I was threatened with banishment years ago for similar comments. I will not say anything. All I know is at a certain point in the game I switched to watching international football.😕

  2. Good post Mike especially because you used some of what I said last week about square pegs and round holes. LOL. In any event, If I were the coach all of the single number jerseys would be taken away and re-earned by what a player does during a game. Number 1 today missed three blocks on quick outs and no single number guy stood out. I can’t blame the players all that much because they are a reflection of the head coach who doesn’t inspire either in his schemes or attitude. Why didn’t they run the pass plays again that worked in Beatty’s first drive? And how can you call plays that target receivers who are well short of the line to make? On top of that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way TU runs the RPO. How does every other quarterback in the country that runs an RPO consistently get yardage by faking the hand-off and then running around the end? Temple’s quarterbacks invariably one up the middle when they run, which is hardly never. Is it spacing, the coaching,or the players?. Whatever it is it doesn’t work. On top of that I thought that I had been transported back to Rhule’s first two years given the number of quick out passes they threw today. if you run quick outs, your receivers have to be able to block and no Temple receiver is nearly good enough a blocker to make the play work consistently. Watch Navy to see good blocking wide receivers. Also, don’t the coaches understand that it doesn’t matter how many yards you accumulate running from one sideline to the other? Even on simple hand offs, too many times the back begins the play by running parallel to the line of scrimmage. Like I said in your previous post, five years ago today, TU came within a minute of beating Notre Dame. Today TU couldn’t beat Notre or Dame never mind a mediocre Tulane team. So sad considering what it took for the team to gain some respectability.

    • And that why the program just can’t seem to sustain success. Forget the coaches attempting the impossible, the A.D.s should get the brunt of the blame for hiring coaches who either are too thick headed or too stupid to employ schemes that have proven to work for Temple. Hardin, Golden, and Rhule set down a blueprint that brought success and two successive coaches have intentionally ignored it. Mind boggling and depressing all at once. You and I will never forget speaking to Ge-off at the season ticket holders’ event his first year when he told us the bold faced lie that Sharga was going to be the key to the offense. Sharga played his guitar more than he played offense that year. Like I said then, Ge-off should have been fired on the field when he lost to Nova. I guess though that we’re the losers because he, unbelievably was able to parlay his mediocrity into a P-5 job that pays him even more money to be mediocre.

      • Yeah, as bad a game coach as Al was, even he would know we have a first-down red zone mismatch when Russo throws to Mack. These 2 qbs playing today could not hit Wilt Chamberlain in the red zone let alone mack

  3. It’s a good thing the games haven’t been on “regular” TV. Not being seen, they aren’t talked about which would not be good for business since the talk would be how bad it is. But that kind of comments might wake up the administration and get a fire going under Dunphy’s rear.

  4. Gave would be a great addition, a lil excitement on the sideline!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Mike,

    I’ve always felt that you Overrate Russo as a QB. I have serious doubts about his chances of moving on to the next level and even think it’s a stretch to consider him a “championship” leader at this level.

    That being said, I was appalled to see Carey quoted in Marc Narducci’s recap this morning that Anthony missed the game because he could not play through the pain. His exact quote “it’s a pain threshold thing, it’s a pain thing.”

    If I was Russo, I might just sit out the rest of the year as opposed to getting bartered behind this line.

    Maybe I’m overreacting, but Carey has proven himself to be unimaginative during the game, unable to prepare or adapt for a game, and now, distancing himself from his players. This guy is quickly turning into a disaster and shows little hope.
    Any wonder Roche hightailed it out of here?

    • As far as the line, it’s pretty much the same one (minus Hennessey) that put up 59 points at Houston. Difference was Ryquell and a commitment to establishing the run first. Uremovich seems to be annoyed when he has to call an occasional run. Much easier to pass protect when you are not backpedaling 60 times a game

      • I don’t think your team is nearly as bad as yesterday’s score and I actually think Carey is a good FBS HC…however, your ‘square peg, round home’ analogy seems apropos on multiple levels. IMO the pro-set offense in CFB works well in 2 situations: when you have superior talent (Alabama), or when the talent is fairly equivalent and/or defenses are built to cover the spread/ RPO (like in the AAC). The AAC is ripe for the pro-set and when TU ran it, it set you apart from most of the league in a positive fashion, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

        Along with all the a COVID-19 stress, I think a lot of what you’re seeing this year is what Rutgers fans started seeing in 2015- the ‘sins’ of recruiting years past have caught up to you, and your current coach/staff isn’t equipped to handle the manifestations of it. Collins didn’t particularly recruit well and most of the success of your last 3 seasons was residual from Rhule. I’m not sure of how your classes have been ranked since Collins/Carey took over (or how your current class is), but I’d bet it’s nowhere near what Rhule was doing. Recruiting tends to be a lagging indicator with the results showing up 3-4 years down the line. This is now your 4th season since Rhule left. I thought you were lucky that Collins left when he did (he seems extremely overrated and full of hot air) and while Carey seems like a sound HC, he reminds me of Ash in the ‘cultural fish out of water’ sense (at least in the Northeast).

        Joe P.

  6. Lousy blocking on offense and horrid tackling on defense – to say nothing of play calling. Why does Temple make such audacious contracts if they can’t buy out coaches who are obviously failures – FIVE years? 2 mil per year? Coming from the MAC, Carey probably would have come for half that. Is there no such thing for college coaches to have to do a decent job to keep their jobs without buying out their entire contract? I guess not. Last season was a red flag itself. Blowout loses in season and embarrassed in the bowl game. Yeah, 8 wins but using a roster of very good players handed to him.And don’t use COVID as an excuse – the other teams are dealing with that too. The announcer said during the game: “Fritz is building something good at Tulane.” Why can’t Temple get Fritz quality coaches? No, they always go after “promising assistants, or in this case, mediocre HCs. I agree, it is the administration making mediocre choices, consistently, and with fingers crossed hoping for the best, but offering nice contracts. And there’s the problem. Hate to say it but I’m not sure I want to watch some more “bad-old-days” games. Even with McKie, no HCing experience and frankly not showing much as an assistant before being hired – another losing season coming up? Sorry, but I see other smaller schools moving up and having quick success (Troy, Marshall as examples), but not Temple.

  7. JoeRU0304, I fail to see any indication to back up your comment that Carey is a good FBS Coach. Guy can’t win bowl games, guy can’t fill out a top tier coaching staff (otherwise special teams wouldn’t be such a disaster), guy doesn’t have any creativity in game plan, guy can’t keep top tier players, guy doesn’t inspire players (they have gotten crushed in games–see last year’s bad, bad losses), guy so far hasn’t proven he can recruit.

    “I told Dr. Kraft as we were going through this to put whatever buyout you want,” Carey said. “That is not important to me.”

    Apparently it isn’t, because a source said that the buyout is $10 million for each of the first two years of his contract. The third year, according to the source is still $8 million.

    Buyout? Of course it’s not important to him, he knew he was in way over his head. Way overpaid this guy.

    This is funny Pat Kraft:
    “Every bowl-game situation is different. I look at how he got there — he won the conference championship and had a great win this year against Buffalo,” Kraft said. “That doesn’t really faze me, I would rather he get there.”

    “This will be a job that will always attract plenty of willing suitors, especially with the way the football program has performed lately.”

    Kraft did a lousy job hiring Carey. Martin Jarmond did a great job hiring Hafley up at BC and Kraft will be the beneficiary of his predecessors choice. Jarmond went on to UCLA.

    Bottom line: Temple is screwed/Interim AD/Bad Head Football Coach

  8. It’s funny looking back only a few short years to where things are today. The trendline over the past year has been negative and is accelerating rapidly.

    There is a chance the team may not win another game this season. Carey has lost five games in the past two seasons by 14 points or more. Quality defense, quality special teams, and the Tuff identity have become memories of better days. The program’s profile has been erased from TV and relegated to online streaming. Even the low expectations crowd on the Facebook group is starting to ask the questions the more intelligent fans were asking a year ago.

    I wasn’t thrilled with the Carey hire to start with. A top level AAC program should be able to get a rising star with a Power 5 resume for the head coach spot and expect to replace him every 3-4 years. Dunphy is a seat warmer and will take no action while he waits for a new AD. The talent on the current roster see how things are working out for Yeboah and Roche.

    I hope my crystal ball is wrong as it indicates darker days to come.

    • Chance is more likely for 1-7 than 2-6. We will not be favored in any remaining game unless we pull off a miracle against SMU and I see that as a lot worse than 38-3 if Russo doesn’t play. I think we compete with them with Russo. I think we beat them with Russo, a fullback (Ruley) and a commitment to the run and passing off play action but that will be Carey admitting he was wrong and that will never happen. When everybody sees Russo as a capable mid-level NFL QB they will wonder why Carey used him in an RPO. He’s got an NFL arm and NFL size. His talent is being wasted here. Almost all of the interceptions he throws here can be directly traceable to RPO sets that give him little to no time.

  9. Pretty good hire by Al Golden and I love his reasoning. He didn’t hire him because he was a buddy but because of the recommendations of others.Contrast that to our current staff, which is an NIU clique: GOLDEN ON DAY

    “Ryan joined our staff after serving as a graduate assistant for one of the most innovative offensive minds in college football, Urban Meyer. Seldom have I heard coach (Tom) O’Brien and coach (Dana) Bible (offensive coordinator at Boston College) give such glowing recommendations on a coaching candidate. I knew when I got the job here at Temple that Ryan would be someone I would want to have on our team. He is bright, energetic, articulate and an outstanding communicator. He has already established himself around the beltway (Baltimore-Washington) as an excellent recruiter and will continue to be a great ambassador for Temple Football.”
    [klēk, klik]
    a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.

  10. Sorry to pile on. Best wishes for the members of the team who are sitting out for COVID. But if the game would be played as scheduled on Thursday, the entire country would see how the Owls have slipped (like the USF game a couple years back). TV crew would be talking up GA-FLA, and ND-Clemson in the first quarter even though neither game is on ESPN.

  11. Back to the Future. Who first coined, “Temple Tuff”? And, what was the very first definition of Temple Tuff?

    JoeRU and everyone else is right. The AAC is a perfect fit for Temple Tuff.

    • Back in the ‘New Big East’ days I remember USF fans hating playing against Rutgers and I think Pitt because they used to talk about how their speed-based defense struggled with ‘physical’ offenses. IMO most of the AAC defenses are geared towards the RPO/pass, making a sound pro-set offense a viable option in the league.

      Joe P.

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