TU season: That was quick

This is how last season ended in Annapolis. It got much worse this season.

Well, that was quick.

A season that we thought would never start was over in a flash when the American Conference announced that the finale with visiting Cincinnati would be canceled and considered a “no contest.”

That’s curious because all week even the most ardent Temple supporters considered the upcoming game as a no contest. The season is gone, hopefully forgotten, but we doubt it.

“Why don’t these guys like me, Anthony?” “Coach, get Foley back, start blocking punts and returning kicks for touchdowns, give me a fullback and ditch the RPO and you’d be surprised how much the guys would love you.”

Temple football which, as late as the Memphis game, was the winningest AAC program in the history of championship league play, finished with a 1-6 record and now has lost eight of its last 10 games.

How did we get here?

To answer that question, another question has to be proposed.

Why did we hire Rod Carey?

Ostensibly, Carey was a rebound hire for then AD Dr. Pat Kraft. Spurned by Manny Diaz after 18 days, Kraft and Temple Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kevin Clark reached to the most familiar place they could find and they plucked fellow Indiana grad Carey for the job. No national search, no finding the best guy, just satisfying the comfort level.

He was hired to basically hold serve. Not advance the program further, but at least not demolish it.

On the surface, it appeared to be a good hire because Carey came here with a 52-30 record as a FBS head coach and by hiring a head coach, and not an assistant, Temple just wanted to continue the success of the last guy, Geoff Collins.

If Temple took just one backward step under Carey, that disproved the entire theory of the hire.

Instead, Temple took one side step and one gigantic backward step.

COVID is being used as an excuse, but it’s really not. Had the Owls been handcuffed by the City of Philadelphia under, say, Al Golden, it probably would have taken him no more than two seconds to move the entire practice operation to Ambler, a place where he had two Cherry and White games. Instead, Carey basically said woe is me.

It was not unreasonable for the Owls to post eight wins a year and maybe get a championship every four or five years. Carey was able to do that his first season, but there were major red flags. One, 2018’s AAC Special Teams Player of the Year, Isaiah Wright, was effectively muzzled in 2019 and the entire special teams have been a disaster for two seasons.

Only two years ago before this staff came to town.

There seems to be no sense of urgency to improve that.

On top of that, for the first time in Temple history, starters–good ones–have left the program for greener pastures. Last year, was Quincy Roche (Miami) and Kenny Yeboah (Ole Miss). Many more than that to come. The team’s best running back and only “home run hitter” (Ray Davis) left the team in mid-season. We’ve heard the top two receivers, Jadan Blue and Branden Mack, are considering leaving and Ifeanyi Maijeh, a first-team All-AAC defensive tackle, told OwlsDaily.com he was “exploring his options.”

You don’t explore options if you intend to stay.

Arguably, they are three of the top five players on the team. When three of the top five players on the team leave a year after two of the top three leave, you know something is seriously wrong.

It’s as clear as the nose on Jimmy Durante’s face that the players DO NOT LIKE THIS GUY for whatever reason.

Could you see P.J. Walker, Tyler Matakevich or Haason Reddick leaving Matt Rhule? How about Mo Wilkerson or Adam DiMichele leaving Al Golden? Or Paul Palmer leaving Bruce Arians, even with a transfer portal?

Err, no.

Those were popular “players coaches.” Keeping the players here in the era of the portal is half the battle.

Hopefully, KJ is privy to information most of us do not know.

The other half of the battle is gameday coaching and locking down key areas of the team like special teams. Temple used to be “Special Teams U” and now is a national laughingstock in that area. That third of the team has been that way for two seasons and there is no sense of urgency to improve that area by a) finding great athletes to return punts and kickoffs; b) even attempting to block punts like the Owls used to do on the regular.

On defense, the Owls could not generate a pass rush post-Roche and company and could not stop anyone.

On offense, it was painfully obvious that the Owls have no AAC-caliber starting quarterbacks behind Anthony Russo and, if he leaves, Temple won’t be able to generate any offense at all next year. In other words, if Russo leaves (and we pray to God he won’t), Temple is bleeped.

Russo not being around and the special teams being neglected and the players leaving and others getting hurt added up to 1-6 this season and, however you look at the math next season, it’s going to get worse.

Only a new head of the math department can change things now. Does the Temple administration have the gonads to spend money to make money or will it be satisfied with a return to the dark ages of 5,000 fans rattling around in a 70,000-seat stadium?

Over the next couple of months, we will find out if they can put two and two together.

Saturday’s Best Bets: Going with former Temple Owl Alex Derenthal and his Georgia State squad in laying the 1 against visiting Georgia Southern at the former Turner Field in downtown Atlanta and Duke as a pick in a game across town at Georgia Tech.

Update: Went 3-0 against the spread for last week as Coastal beat App State, 34-23, to lay the 6.5, Liberty “only” lost to NC State by 1 (15-14) to cover that 3.5 and Georgia State easily laid the 3 with a 31-14 win over South Alabama. Now 6-3 against the spread for the season.

Update 2: Split the 11/28 games in Atlanta, now 7-4 against the spread for the season. Won on Georgia State, lost on Georgia Tech.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Wednesday: Getting The Old Gang Back

Saturday: Five Guys

19 thoughts on “TU season: That was quick

  1. Contrary to what KJ says, there is no coaching up lower ranked recruits and but for a couple of kids that’s all Temple’s gotten the last four or five years. One or two such recruits will overachieve but most of them will remain mid to high two star and low three star players. Second, Covid was the main cause of the disastrous season. It affected practice and lineups week to week. Third, if the emoluments like getting cost of attendance money existed back in the day and they equaled what they are today, TU stars would have left. For example, Florida State gives out of state players $6000 and many other P-5 schools give near that amount. Moreover, very few kids that end up at TU, then or now, had TU as their number one school and if TU stars in the past had had the opportunity to transfer to the school they wanted to go to initially, they would have left. Such a move would have given them more publicity, more attention, more fans, more opportunity, and more money in their pockets. In the 70s players got 15 dollars a month laundry money and that ended in the late 70s. No one got a transfer waiver so if you transferred to a D-1 school you had to sit out a year upon transferring, which meant you had to play on the practice squad and essentially be a tackling dummy. Can’t tell me that if stars back then had had the chance to make thousands of dollars to play and would not have lost a year of eligibility if they transferred they wouldn’t have left. One more thing. Can’t tell me that the kids are primarily leaving because of Carey. When a kid says it I’ll believe it. They see the success Yeboah and Roche are having and simply are hoping to match their success at a better school that pays them more and provides them with more opportunities.

    • John, what you say makes sense, but it doesn’t explain the lousy game-day coaching, play calling and horrendous choices on the special teams. Carey hasn’t just lost some games, he’s getting blown out. I guess next year will tell if he can turn things around.

      • It does make sense because a coach’s scheme is limited by the abilities of his players. Can’t run a screen with backs that can’t catch or play man to man with guys too slow to cover receivers without help. Slower linemen can’t pull or make reach blocks or beat a block on defense The team was forced to play with guys who wouldn’t even have seen the field this season but for Covid and injuries. Players are developed over time, not in a truncated spring season and fall camp. A coach might recruit a 260 pound linemen with the plan to get him to 290 pounds by his junior year. If that kid has to play as a freshman, at 260 both he and the team are in trouble. And the same analogy applies across the board. Many of the kids who played this season were a year or two away. The only plus that might come out of this season is that the kids who did play and weren’t ready to do so now know what it takes to be successful and will work that much harder.

    • John, this is one of the more rational explanations with regards to this season that I’ve read and makes a lot of sense. Given social media today, I agree with your point
      “Can’t tell me that the kids are primarily leaving because of Carey.” if that were the case something would eventually end up on twitter, facebook, etc. I also think that Philadelphia’s covid restrictions were a huge detriment to getting prepared this season and to MIke’s point I really don’t know how feasible it would have been to move practice to Ambler. Aside from the logistics, outside of Philly, Montgomery county was probably hardest hit of the the surrounding counties with regards to covid and there may have been push back from their health commisioner if TU tried to do that.

      • JD do you know what one of the saddest part of playing at TU is? It’s never playing at home in front of a packed stadium filled almost entirely with TU fans. The only TU game I ever was present at where TU fans outnumbered the opponent’s fans was in 1974 when TU beat BC at Temple Stadium. Although TU has played in front of sold out home crowds for PSU and ND over the last 50 or so years, those crowds always had a majority of PSU and ND fans. Even when TU plays Rutgers at home Rutgers fans outnumber TU fans at the LINC.. Kids notice that and know that if they go to a P-5 school, the stadiums at most of the member schools will be packed with mostly home fans. Hell, even this season, many P-5 schools played in stadiums that were a third filled, crowds that outnumbered TU fans at most home games. Georgia gets 95 thousand people for its spring game for Pete’s sake. Add in the other benefits I mentioned above, why would a kid with an opportunity to transfer to a P-5 school and play not do so.

        Frankly, i think that the TUs of the world are doomed because of the current rules. Poaching is only going to get worse and schools like Temple that don’t have a football legacy to speak of, a campus that’s wholly urban, so-so school and fan support, a mediocre athletic department and administration, and no on campus stadium have to seriously consider dropping football because things are not going to get better as long as the current rules are in effect.

    • John, can’t disagree with any of the points you bring up regarding the atmosphere at the Linc for home games, crowds, etc. Have been experiencing that at games since I was a student in the late 70s. I don’t think an OCS really helps this much and until the admin and alumni provide better financial support we are pretty much just treading water. I mean Owl Club membership is ridiculous for the number of alumni just in the Philly area. If we could stay at the level Mike mentioned, consistent 8 win seasons, I would love it. To be honest my expectations are probably lower than Mike’s, give me a .500 or better team each year, cut out the blow outs and I’m good.

  2. Here’s a thought: Russo tells Carey to make some offensive changes (like the ones you mention Mike) or he’s leaving. Then we’d see what Carey is really about. As I mentioned before TU should have taken a bit more time after Diaz jumped ship to look for the best possible option. BTW, Diaz has Miami in the top 10 for all the criticism of being a bad coach choice he got from Owls fans. Also, if we end up with 15K attendance again we may as well play at Franklin field or the soccer stadium or wherever and save a bunch by not being scammed by Lurie.

    • Diaz has Miami in the top ten because he was able to pay top dollar for new assistants and had the benefit of having top twenty ranked classes for the last three/four seasons. The sum of their rank for the last four years is lower than TU’s best ranking in a single year. Don’t care who the coach is because without players, you can’t win consistently or even be competitive. .

    • Carey’s and Collins’ biggest mistakes was not respecting the successful culture Golden, Rhule, and Daz to an extent cultivated at Temple and that culture was Temple Tuff which means that win or lose the opponents will know that they were in a dog fight. It means running an offense with a fullback, isolating a cornerback and running him over, blitzing, and smash mouth football that milks the clock and gives your defense a rest, . It is not an RPO offense with quick outs and offensive series that take a minute and a half off of the clock. . Carey better realize this soon or the program is doomed.

  3. I don’t Carey. Wake me up when it’s over.

  4. After seeing what ECU did to SMU yesterday, I guess there’s some consolation in our loss to ECU, especially with our decimated lineup and using 5th and 6th string QBs. Carey’s got plenty of excuses, mostly legitimate, but there’s still that stubborness. Forget this season. Next year we’ll see where we’re headed.

  5. What ? The season is over ? Talk about going into that good night, Whimpering… Geeze. Oh Well.
    Gabe Infante , hunh ? Lets see.
    Other schools are now saying – Thanks but we’ve had enough , NEXT coach .

  6. If Carey reviewed game film from 2016 and doesn’t see why that team was successful he should be fired. The play that epitomized Temple Tuff was Sharga’s complete annihilation of USF’s cornerback. Since then, I can’t recall seeing a similar play by the offense.

  7. Congrats to Cincy, Liberty, Tulsa, Louisiana, Marshall, and Coastal Carolina all in the Top 25 this week.

    Reminiscing on those Top 25 days…., will College GameDay make it back to Philly before we all pass?

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