Somewhere, a few hundred miles apart, a couple of men are scratching their heads and asking a single question over and over again.
“What went wrong?”
One guy, Pat Kraft, lives in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
The other, Rod Carey, was last seen packing boxes onto a pickup truck in Haddonfield, N.J.
The answer to the question should dictate how Temple hires its next head coach and it’s a pretty simple one: The game as currently constituted has passed coaches like Carey by and he probably will have trouble getting another one simply because of his personality.
When Kraft hired fellow Indiana University alum, Carey, it looked good on paper because Carey had a 52-30 record as a head coach on the FBS level with presumably lesser talent than Temple.
Then the transfer portal stepped in and ruined it for all old-school coaches like Carey.
The transfer portal, which really hit the Temple program at the end of the 2019 season, robbed Temple of the AAC defensive player of the year, Quincy Roche, and that opened up the floodgates for everyone else to leave the program.
Carey was an old school “my-way-or-the-highway” guy who was quoted back then as saying “if you enter the portal, you are off the team.”
He wasn’t known as the type of guy who got close to his players or whose players were comfortable confiding in him so they viewed that pronouncement as a threat and took him up on it.
In that way, he was different than his predecessor, Geoff Collins, who was close to his players and they to him. Collins has failed at Georgia Tech because he has been exposed as a subpar recruiter who took from Temple a mostly FCS-level staff but there can be no doubt that the Temple players responded better to his “type” than Carey’s. Say what you will about Collins but he cared about special teams and special teams were a three-year problem at Temple after he left.
I’d really doubt we’d have the mass bleeding in the transfer portal if Collins remained here and that’s half the battle.
The coaching on the field is the other half.
Carey also tried to force feed his NIU run-pass-option system onto players Matt Rhule mostly recruited to play another system. Had Carey tailored his schemes to the talent of his players and not the other way around, the Owls could have avoided the 63-21, 45-21 and 55-13 losses they suffered in Carey’s first season.
That was a huge red flag to the fans and the players saw it, too.
What does that mean for the next hire?
Temple has to pick someone with the personality of Collins, the gameday coaching ability of Wayne Hardin and the flexibility of someone like Rhule, who proved that he was open to change after his second season. (It was then he dumped Marcus Satterfield and the spread and went to a more NFL type offense with Glenn Thomas.)
Hard to do, but not impossible.
There is that guy out there and plenty of other G5 schools have him in Luke Fickell, Jamey Cantwell and Hugh Freeze, who possess all of those qualities. It’s naive to think that only those three and a few others have the complete package.
Finding him is difficult and, if it takes much more time than the hasty search conducted by Kraft after being burned by Manny Diaz, it will be worth the wait.
Friday: Guardrails in Place