TU football: Proving law of diminishing returns

Anyone who had Sam Wilson’s Economics 101 Class knows the law of diminishing returns all too well.

Now Rod Carey might be starting to understand it.

Temple spoiled a 130-or-so round trip to Rutgers for most of the 100 to 200 Owl fans who made the trip not necessarily by losing the game by the ignominious score a 61-14 but by what Carey has done since he arrived on campus.

Ignore one-third of the game of football.

Diminishing returns, also called law of diminishing returns or principle of diminishing marginal productivity, is an economic law stating that if one input in the production of a commodity is increased while all other inputs are held fixed, a point will eventually be reached at which additions of the input yield progressively smaller, or diminishing, increases in output.

Carey said he got rid of the best special team’s coach in the country, Ed Foley, because he wanted “an extra coach on the field on defense.” How is that coach working out after the Owls allowed 62 and 55 against UCF and UNC two years ago, 47 points to SMU and 41 points to Memphis and 61 against Rutgers today?

The commodity that was increased in this case was the perception that Temple had somehow improved from a 1-6 season by a) being able to practice more) and b) a team bonding preseason in the Bronx.

That perception was shattered on Saturday because at best the Owls’ other inputs remain fixed or were significantly decreased.

We wrote in this space many times in the offseason that the Owls lost too many good players and did not bring enough in to offset the losses. These were not malcontents who left the program. They were good, mostly local, kids stuck in an ill-fitting system and valuable starting players who never “felt” a connection with a largely midwestern staff.

My biggest fear was that the Owls would be only favored in two games–Akron and Wagner–and probably finish 2-10.

That’s looking more and more like the case now and beating Akron turned from a given to an if over the last 24 hours. Two and 10 five years removed from a 10-2 regular season would be a disaster.

If so, the university has to put the big boy pants on and do what every other university has done–eat the contract of the head coach and find a better fit.

Because this is Temple, and we all know the history of Temple all too well, that’s probably not happening. When was the last time the university fired a high-profile coach of one of its two major sports with money still on the table? That happens everywhere else.

Not here.

Temple never eats contracts.

Temple Football Forever: Feb. 11, 2021

Temple would rather lose than pay two contracts even though the administration would be better off following another Sam Wilson economic maxim: Spend money to make money. (I was a journalism major but that class was a damn good elective. I got an A. Carey would have probably gotten an F.)

So what happens?

We are left with a head football coach who completely ignores one-third of the game of football.

Special teams.

Last year we were promised special teams would get better.

They got worse.

Former Owl and Dallas Cowboy Ventell Bryant offers his three-word analysis on the game.

Al Golden said special teams are just as important as offense and defense and he had terrific punt and kickoff returners who flipped the field. On the other side of special teams, he blocked punts and field goals. That tradition continued under Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins. The one constant under all of those guys was that the special teams keys were given to Ed Foley and none of the previous head coaches had to worry about that car crashing.

This year the coaching staff said they had fixed those problems.

Don’t tell us, show us. What they’ve shown us in three years is abundantly clear.

This team doesn’t even try to return punts or kickoffs, or block kicks.

What did we see on Saturday?

A punt returner who routinely allowed the ball to bounce far behind him without advancing it and a kickoff returner who failed to secure the ball. That led to two early touchdowns by Rutgers and the rout was on after that. (Hell, we could mention this team’s penchant for kicking the ball straight to dynamite returners but we’re too depressed to do that.)

Carey said he got rid of the best special team’s coach in the country, Ed Foley, because he wanted “an extra coach on the field on defense.” How is that coach working out after the Owls allowed 62 and 55 against UCF and UNC two years ago, 47 points to SMU and 41 points to Memphis last year and 61 against Rutgers today?

Err, probably not as planned.

The loss of Foley for an “extra defensive coach on the field” is about as good a definition of diminishing returns as we’ve ever seen.

Monday: Meanwhile ….

16 thoughts on “TU football: Proving law of diminishing returns

  1. I think I said it here a few times last year that Carey was almost frighteningly similar to Ash at Rutgers- a Midwest cultural ‘fish out of water’ in the Northeast who seemed to think he was ‘better’ than the program he took over and figured photocopying whatever he did at his last program would just magically work. I think Carey is actually a bit better than Ash but when you had multiple starters transferring out with their family members throwing shade towards the staff, you didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out something was wrong (and no, it wasn’t “tampering”).

    Joe P.

    • Correct Joe. Sorry I missed you today but I will be up for Michigan State at Rutgers and hope to see you then. Good luck the rest of the season.

      • The similarities really are almost scary. With staffing, Ash also tried to move beloved assistant Anthony Campanile to an off-field role (Carey/ Foley), which led to Campanile leaving for BC (and having a few NJ kids flock to him there), which led to Ash hiring Anthony’s brother Nunzio/ NJ HS coach of a powerhouse program (Carey/Infante) to try to compensate though it appeared to be too little too late…outside of maybe 5 programs, most of us are all in a similar boat on that no matter how well your team/program may be doing, we’re all one wrong hire away from falling off a proverbial cliff.

        I hope you and the other visiting TU fans were treated respectfully at the game. Make no mistake I always want Rutgers to win though you can cheer for your team without being a disrespectful goof.

        Joe P.

      • Joe, don’t disagree with what you are saying. The biggest difference for Temple is that we don’t have B10 money to look forward to which I’m sure helped Rutgers move forward nor are there Temple alum out there, at least as far as I know, that can drop a $20M donation on the program as was recently done at Pitt. That being said, I think Temple is at a point where if this season goes south decisive action needs to be taken, not business as usual. Given that the AAC will not be as strong a conference if UH, Cinci and UCF leave, TU needs to be focused on being the best of the what is left. I thought Carey was a good hire but the players that left via the transfer portal and outside of Infante and a couple of the other assistants, Carey doesn’t impress me on the recruiting front so far.

  2. Other than an 18-year-old girl (err, she looked 18, could have been 25) seeing my Temple hoodie and saying: “We’re going to kick your ass” I was treated well by RU fans and even invited to a tailgate. Saw a couple of Bruce Arians’ players. Beautiful day although I would have preferred playing Thursday night. I diffused the earlier situation by telling her: “Yeah, you probably are.” She laughed. I laughed. We were both right.

  3. So so true. Everyone sees it. Special teams are dismal. They almost look purposely bad. Offense sucks and techniques are bad. Get back to basics if they know what that means. Get tough ,dam it!!!!

  4. Really don’t know who anybody is trying to kid here Mike. It was nice to he optimistic, but we all knew that this was the most likely result.

    Carey is just God-awful and needs to be fired by Tuesday, but of course he won’t. The football program has returned to the very bottom of the pack even faster than it rose like a phoenix under Golden and then Rhule.

    In the next couple of years as realignments and backstabbing go ahead, Temple will be so far outside the picture that just dropping the program will seem merciful

    If you listen close, you can probably hear the fat lady singing.

  5. Shame on me for still thinking Temple had a chance to claw back into the game after that early 3rd quarter TD and defensive stop. The offense and playcalling are ineffective. How in the world can you give up 61 points, force 6 punts, and still only have 38 combined return yards? Carey turned special teams into a liability and the program will be a net loser in the portal as long as he’s there.

  6. Well Mike, you said “anything can happen when these two schools play each other” and boy were you right, but in the negative for TU. There were other blowouts around the country as usual, but Temple allowed the most points and with the biggest scoring margin – great distinction, huh? At least they didn’t get shut out, oh goody. They probably lost Mathis (we’ll see) which looks like a disaster compared to his replacement. Special teams? At least Barry had some good punts. But, as you said, why kick to one of the country’s top returners instead of putting it in the end zone? Looks like we’re back to the bad ‘ol days. So embarrassing…… this will be great for recruiting too!

    • No wonder the quarterback from last year transferred , that’s how bad he wanted to get out of Temple And he won’t be playing this year that’s how bad of a coach this guy is .

  7. Addazio, Collins, and Diaz leaving were all positives….except we got Carey after all the moves.
    All 3 will be seeking new jobs as well.

  8. Rutgers fans were cordial because to them this was a 1-AA opponent. Forget getting “tough”, how about planning and executing a disciplined game plan including offense/defense/special teams and coaching. No parent, no student athlete wants to be on the other side of this type of butt-kicking. Carey is not up to the task, no dishonor to him personally some people just aren’t up for the job they were hired to do. He is in way, way over his head. The program is in such a disarray that ending the program altogether would not be a reach anymore. The support is not there, no excitement, nobody is going to care anymore even diehard TU athletic boosters are depressed. The November 1, 2015 TU-ND game seems 150 years ago. This ship is unfortunately sinking fast. Make a coaching change Tuesday. This will not turn around under Rod Carey. If you let him finish out the year you have more kids that will transfer and who the heck will want to play for this guy? If you let him finish this season, end the program. Take the $ put it to hoops, soccer, women’s sports–add hockey or D1 lacrosse where you could feasibly be a Top 20 team within 3-5 years (see the success of U or Richmond-3 NCAA tourneys since inception of program in 2014). Hot bed of the sport. Hockey could do the same, PSU added in 2013-2014. Let me be clear, I do not want TU to drop football, but you are getting dangerously close with this coach to where you start putting less than 10k in the Linc. That doesn’t work. You have to hope Wingard has an emergency meeting to move on from this guy. You don’t have a Cosby to pay off a Jerry Berndt anymore. This has gone from bad to awful. Damn shame it didn’t have to get to this stage. Poor hire, move on now.

    • I agree but this is probably a decision over Jason’s head until they can get AD and all 3 can meet with the athletic committee of the BOT. That’s what happens when the uni is on the hook for millions. Put it this way: If they fired all the NIU guys last week and put Gabe and Preston in charge and we don’t lose to RU 61-14 or worse. Hell, Penn State had 2 coaches on the entire (Rip Engel and Paterno) in 1950 and was able to tie a decent Temple squad 7-7.

  9. Agree with Speed: Send Carey back to Illinois, eat his salary. (I doubt Saban would take him on as an “advisor” other than being a source for what NOT to do.) Promote Infante, but tell him he can’t get his salary bumped for a while. Let him sort out the rest of the staff. Not knowing how the staff contracts are, perhaps there could be attrition that would enable money to be shared with others as Carey’s contract runs down. Bring in GA’s where possible. Can’t do any worse than the current crew.

    Doing nothing, even with hands tied by funding and contracts, sends a bad message to fans. But then, how long has it been since a real AD was on the job?

    How difficult is it now for Infante to visit recruits? Work the portal hard is the only option it seems.

    Agree AAC will be gutted when the three schools leave. Wonder what happens for Navy and Memphis, programs that have success? One just has to look north to UConn to see the football future.

  10. Carey was a mediocre choice to begin with (especially considering his bowl record) and handing him such a contract was near insane – yeah a last minute need but Temple could have taken a bit more time to search, 2 mil per year would have attracted better choices that were out there. But that guaranteed contract was just ridiculous considering he probably would have come for less making a buyout more feasible. Plus why not have standards that have to be met put in a contract? No one else would take the job at 2 mil? C’mon….. And how the hell did he beat 5 Big10 teams at NIU but looks terrible here? Rutgers may make some real noise this year (they looked solid) but 61 points? Carey didn’t have his team prepared well. I guess that 2 mil 5-year guarantee, knowing TU doesn’t buy out means he doesn’t give a crap? I just can’t get over that contract thing, another TU screw up putting the program in jeapardy and wasting money but never any money for buyouts. Liuacoras knew how to be strong, so I hope the new pres can be also.

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