If only a Rod Carey football game plan had as many surprises as the introductory press conference of new Temple football coach Stan Drayton, the Owls might have won enough games to keep Mr. Boring in charge today.
One surprise struck me, though.
Johnson said this in front of the assembled media when asked about his involvement in picking Drayton: “I had a chance to get to know Stan while we worked together at the University of Texas. He is an outstanding football coach and an even better person. He knows what success looks like at the highest levels of football. He also knows what it takes to be successful in this city having spent six years of his career here and learned from two of the city’s legendary football coaches.”
No more than minutes later, Johnson said this in a smaller post-conference gathering:
“I don’t think my being at Texas was a big part of Stan being hired here. I was involved in about $675 million dollars of building projects there so I only knew him superficially.”
We went from “get to know” to the connection “not being a big part.”
That wasn’t key thing, though, Johnson said as far as Temple football’s future.
“I was involved in about $675 million of building projects …”
Four months ago, Temple was looking for an AD and, of the four finalists, only one was involved in any significant building projects.
The Board of Trustees hired that guy.
This is the same board of trustees that voted nearly unanimously to submit a plan to the City of Philadelphia that closed a portion of 15th Street permanently to build a $250 million football stadium and only backed off when they were confronted by a small but angry group of community residents one memorable March night a few years ago.
Presumably, they still want to build it and must feel Johnson is the point guy to get this project done like he did so many in Austin, Texas.
Now, with President Jason Wingard in place along with Johnson and Drayton, the Owls have three high-profile African-American point men to convince a mostly African-American community that this is in the best interest of both the university and the community.
To me, getting this done requires some thinking outside the box in addition to the personalities involved.
Closing 15th Street–even between Norris and Montgomery–seems to be a non-starter so the administration should be looking for another place to build.
They got the community to come on board for a $22 million athletic facility at Broad and Master a few years ago that is used 87 times a year, not the six times Temple will use a new football stadium. Since a trade building was part of that deal, knocking it down to build a football stadium there (and moving the Olympic sports to 15th and Norris) probably also is a non-starter.
How about using the Edberg-Olson facility as the new stadium?
There’s already a regulation 100-yard field there, plus enough room for a 10,000-seat North End zone and a 25,000-seat West Side. The current E-O offices can be used for a small (maybe 1,000-seat Owl Club super box plus press box) area.
The only concessions the university would need from the city is to close 10th Street from Susquehanna to Diamond and that would seem easier to do than 15th from Norris to Montgomery. Tenth Street is not as viable a thoroughfare as 15th Street is and nowhere near the number of residents would be impacted on the Edberg Olson side of the campus.
For the time it takes to build the stadium, the football team can move its practices and offices to Geasey Field. If needed, another $10 million practice facility can be constructed at 15th and Norris. (That’s where the Owl football team practiced from 1974-2004.)
That’s the kind of thinking outside the box that Johnson did at UT.
If he can pull that game plan off at UT, he should be able to do it at TU. Hell, considering his resume, that’s what they might have hired him to do.
Monday: Humility Personified