When Pat Kraft went to look for a new head coach after Geoff Collins quit, he reportedly zeroed in on Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko.
Elko allowed his name to float in the new Temple head coaching conversation and days later accepted a pay raise to remain at Texas A&M.
Some say he used Temple.
Either way, the game on Sept. 2 offers probably the most unique storyline of the opening weekend.
Elko turns down Temple job, gets raise to stay put, and then Kraft turns to the other DC, Manny Diaz, who stuck around for all of 18 days.
That led to a panic hire of fellow Indiana football alum Rod Carey, who was just a bad fit here.
Good storyline but there’s more.
Since Carey took over Temple, the Owls and Duke had one decent year (2019) and two horrible seasons.
Duke and Temple both had three wins a year ago and, arguably, Duke had both a worse loss than anything Temple had (Charlotte) and probably not a win as impressive as the Owls owned (Memphis).
All that under the backdrop of probably the worst locker room atmosphere we’ve seen at Temple since the Bobby Wallace Era. There was an open rebellion of Temple players, leading to many more good ones leaving than could be replaced.
All offseason signs point to problems at Duke that do not exist at Temple. For instance, its starting quarterback transferred down (FIU) and now they have a competition for the top job between primarily a running quarterback and a passing one.
That’s the same scenario at Temple with Dwan Mathis and Quincy Patterson. The difference is that both Temple quarterbacks have started and won FBS games and the two at Duke have not.
Duke and Temple both lost their leading receivers (Jake Bobo to UCLA for Duke and Jadan Blue to Virginia Tech for Temple) so that area appears to be in Temple’s favor simply because the Owls were able to entice the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Duke (Adonicas Sanders) to come to Philadelphia.
On defense, Duke was ranked 130 among all 130 FBS teams last year. The Blue Devils allowed 40 points per game last year (and 518 yards per).
Although Duke is a 7-point favorite now, this is a very winnable game from the Temple perspective.
If the Owls pull it out, the story the next day could be Arthur Johnson’s first choice for Temple head coach was better than Pat Kraft’s first choice to replace Collins.
It would not come as a surprise, let’s put it that way.
Friday: Behind The Digits