Arthur Johnson, Meet Gabe Infante

Right about now, new Temple athletic director Arthur Johnson is just starting his “listen and learn” tour talking to Temple staff members, fans and other supporters.

Listening and learning is a good start and Johnson’s willingness to do that is a good sign.

My only reservation about giving the job to an “outsider” (i.e, non-Philadelphian or Temple guy) is that Johnson would not know people like Gabe Infante, the national high school coach of the year in the 2018 season for perennial Pennsylvania large school state champion St. Joseph’s Prep. That high school is located two blocks West and five blocks South of Temple at 17th and Thompson.

Talk about finding Acres of Diamonds in your own back yard…

I’ve never met Gabe, but, having covered Pennsylvania high school football since 1975 for both the Doylestown Intelligencer and Philadelphia Inquirer, I’ve gotten to know people I respect in the high school football world on both sides of the river and they all rave about him. Not a single one has said a negative word about his ability as both a head coach and a CEO of a program. The reviews about him as a person are even more glowing.

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

Not only that, in his two years as an assistant coach at Temple, all of the players speak highly of him and whatever success Temple has in recruiting is attributed to him.

I have seen plenty of his games when he was head coach at the Prep and his teams never jumped offsides, never had false starts and always made dynamic plays on special teams. Their offensive line sprinted to the line of scrimmage for every play. (No lie. Check the film.) They were more well-drilled than most college and NFL teams. Do you think if Gabe rather than Rod was calling the shots in Cincy that Dwan Mathis would be pressured as much as he was? No way. Not a single time did Temple give Mathis max protect and that’s just football 101 when pass protection is struggling. Max protect isn’t in Carey’s playbook.

It is in Infante’s.

He’s a future superstar as a college head coach and the school who gets him will be lucky to have him and, right now, Temple has him. He knows what he’s doing.

In other words, the opposite of Temple under Rod Carey.

When you lose as many games as Carey has in three years by 25 points or more (and he’s done that more than any Temple coach in recent memory), it’s the little things like that adding up to a lopsided scoreboard.

Throw in Temple leading the nation in portal transfers and his players are not happy. Players are going out the door at twice the rate as they are coming in and the program is bleeding to death.

It’s time to stop the bleeding with a coach the players love and respect and who will keep them here and bring better ones into Philadelphia. If I’m Johnson, I’d fire Carey right now, hire Gabe, keep Preston Brown and Walter Stewart and get rid of all of the carpetbaggers from Northern Illinois but that’s probably even above his pay grade.

That’s what this listen and learn tour should be all about.

Learning involves history. Those who don’t learn from it are condemned to repeat it and, so far in the modern era, Temple has had success with two head coaching types:

One, a nationally accomplished head coach in Wayne Hardin who took Navy to No. 2 in the country and Temple to a No. 17 finish;

Two, driven assistant coaches with local connections like Al Golden and Matt Rhule.

Even with Hardin, he knew Philadelphia because he was a pro head coach who won the CFL title with the Philadelphia Bulldogs (playing at Temple Stadium) in 1966. Bringing in people from “there” who don’t understand “here” has never worked with Temple football in the past and likely won’t in the future.

Golden probably would be a safe pick (if he wants Chapter Two at Temple), a guy who could probably provide stability and win eight games a year. His good friend Infante probably has a higher ceiling and will flirt with multiple double-digit win seasons and challenge for league championships.

Listening and learning involves finding out all about Gabe Infante and knowing he’s a sooner-than-later fail safe option. It’s time to stop the bleeding and the mass exodus of players that invariably are the result of embarrassing losses and restore the Temple TUFF culture.

Friday: Fans react


21 thoughts on “Arthur Johnson, Meet Gabe Infante

  1. Mike

    I’m all for this move, realistically, ow much worse could it get?

    Would there be any possibility of mending the fence to bring back Fran Brown and really upgrade the recruiting?

  2. At this point in the season, even with the 2 blowout losses, Carey has a chance to win 3 (or 4?) more games and go bowling. It’s up to him to make it happen. And if he blows the season up he should be fired. But that Temple legacy of never buying out a coaches contract needs to come to an end and that’s up to the new pres. and AD to raise the funds to get it done. If Carey manages a decent season? then let him hang around a bit longer and reduce his buyout numbers. But if Temple really wants to continue D-1 football and be somewhat decent/competitive, they need to make some changes.

    • I’ve seen enough of Carey. It’s not getting any better. Do we as a program aspire to be a six-win team or win championships? I vote for the latter. Plus, winning six with this team as constituted is a real stretch IMHO. Tulsa showed the win over Memphihs was Fool’s Gold.

  3. Unfortunately, Temple will not make any changes before end of season.I understand the reasoning but vehemently disagree with the decision.

    • Unfortunately, the one BOT guy who would have convinced leadership to make a change and bankroll it himself died in a plane crash. Great guy who had Temple’s best interests at heart.

      • How effectively the new University President and AD handle this HC matter is probably as critical a decision as any that’s ever been made regarding the future of the football program. Even with an unlikely 6 win season, I hope they find a way of replacing Carey. But I’m afraid that even if they do buyout Carey, the AD will draw on his P5 experience and look for a replacement from the P5 ranks with no connection to Philadelphia.

        Mike, do you know any of the people that will be interviewed outside of the university insiders, i.e. independent thinking boosters, former players and fans? Somebody has to get into the air of the new AD for him to hear much of what you’ve outlined in your above article. I just know from my corporate experience, that too often managers surround themselves with “bobbleheads” that insulate themselves from getting input from people with contrarian views to their’s. Hope this AD does a lot of listening.

      • Everything you wrote is true. I hope he talks to regular people at the next tailgate and not just big donors.

  4. Note to our new prez and new AD: send Rod Carey packing and move Gabe Infante up to HC! Gabe is a highly regarded local coaching gem! He’s a keeper, don’t let him go!

  5. Here’s an interesting name to keep an eye on if the HC position opens up: Joe Moorhead. He has relationships in the area from his time at Penn State and Fordham and he checks the box on P5 experience as HC and OC.

    • My only problem with Joe is that, given all of the considerable SEC resources he had (10x more money than Temple), he could not attract enough big-time recruits to win there. At Temple, the secret sauce is simply this: A charismatic guy the players gravitate to and a guy who understands the Philadelphia area and is locked into the 5-county area surrounding the school. Carey is the opposite of both things. Joe is more locked into the NYC recruiting than Philly and he failed at MSU. I don’t want to give him a chance to fail at Temple.

  6. Johninohio, no disrespect, but your comment to let Carey “hang around a bit longer is exactly what you should not do”. He needs to go. Does anyone think an interim could do a lot worse? At least the players might play to the whistle under Gabe and not mail it in. You overpaid a stooge as coach. It happens. Move on. Fire him now. Do not pass go. Start building bigger expectations, Carey has proven he can’t win here. Why not see what you can do w/ Infante? Maybe he instills discipline and at least gets some excitement back in the program. This program is today the Walking Dead. Nobody wants to play for Carey. You can’t recruit w/ him, you can’t get transfers with him and anyone with half a sense who can leave has or will leave. The “let him hang around comment” is indicative of a program that maybe should just drop football altogether because if you are looking for this mediocrity, just wrap it up and be done. This guy will go down in the coaching ranks as lower than Dickerson and Wallace. Pat kraft screwed TU w/ this deal and he rolls. Disgraceful. BC actually has a good coach in Hafley, OSU, Pro experience, an actual real coach as opposed to the Division 3 coach roaming the link on Saturdays.

    • When I saw those Cincy backs running free through the secondary and Temple half-heartedly chasing them, I’m convinced the players don’t care because they know (or at least sense) Carey doesn’t care. Lining up three defensive linemen against that kind of attack is the definition of insanity. Navy is going to kill us if we play three down lineman and watch — that’s just what we’re going to do. It’s time to cut the losses and get a caring coach who has a brain on his shoulders. Gabe is that guy.

    • Oh, don’t get me wrong C E, I agree, as I’ve said repeatedly, that they gave Carey a ridiculous contract at the start and that he now needs to go. My “let him hang around a bit longer” but ONLY if he gives us a half decent season statement was centered on Temple’s history of never buying out contracts (and why should we expect it to happen now?) and that if unexpectedly Carey happens to win 6 and we go bowling (and with him another bowl loss, lol), give him another year and reduce his buyout numbers – again with Temple’s history it would make sense, even if not actually acceptable assuming respectability is the goal. Another thing I’ve said in the past is that there’s really no reason Temple can’t do better except for the lousy decisions that have been made by the administration, Carey and his contract being a prime example.

  7. Arthur Johnson called Monday while I was in the ocean.., I need to return his call. My mind is angry, so I will wait. Where should I begin?

  8. Thx, yep Carey goes, first and foremost.

    May I ask why did you take this job? What assumptions did you make, and why do you believe those assumptions are valid?

    Much respect for the scope of his ‘listen and learn tour’.

    • Kinda a relief to hear he called you because yesterday the news was he was returning to Texas and not starting the Temple job until November. That call indicates to me that he was given some homework.

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