Dancing on their own: The Temple Owls

This is the happiest I’ve seen the Broad Street Subway since Sept. 5, 2015.

Disc jockeys in this town like Jerry Blavat and Pierre Robert made a national reputation by taking a chance on a demo song, playing it, and then watching it go to the top of the pop charts first here, then nationally, by call-in requests.

If the present-day Philadelphia DJs still took requests, chances are a song by the alternative pop star Robyn called Dancing on My Own would top the list at least this week. That’s the unofficial anthem of the Philadelphia Phillies, who will steal much of the thunder from the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles over the next couple of weeks.

Jon Sumrall has Troy at 6-2 after three-straight losing seasons (one more than Rod Carey had).

Ironic the Phillies adopted it because the theme is heartbreak and isolation, about someone watching her boyfriend dance with a new girlfriend.

Today, the Phillies are feeling loved and included, while it is the Temple Owls who are feeling heartbreak and isolation.

That’s what happens when you lose to a team 70-13 one week, then turn around to watch that same team get spanked, 34-13, by a league rival you once owned the day after you lose, 27-16, to a two-win team.

If the team that beats you 70-13 gets beat the next week 34-13, what does that tell you?

At least Robyn was dancing on her own inside the club.

Temple proved it could win the AAC title here. With 1,564 players in the portal, it doesn’t need to wait more than one of two years to repeat

Right now, the Owls are on the outside looking into the AAC football club, pressing their collective noses against the window after being denied entry by the bouncer.

Or so it seems.

First-year coach Jim Mora Jr. is not talking playoffs, but certainly entertaining a realistic shot at a bowl game after a 1-11 season last year.

The reality of this season is that Rod Carey got fired for a lot of 63-21, 52-3, 49-7 and 61-14 losses. Then the school ate $6 million of Carey’s salary to hire a new guy and the new guy loses 70-13. You can talk about the change in attitude and culture inside the E-O but, until it shows up on the scoreboard on game day, that’s all it is.

Talk.

Maybe it’s not so much the coach as it is the players.

Or maybe it’s a combination of both.

There were 30 new FBS coaches hired last year and Athlon Sports ranked Stan Drayton 29th. That might have been because he had never coached anything above a position but Drayton hasn’t proven those guys wrong yet.

Drayton still has a chance to prove the so-called experts wrong, but the reality is that he has not this year and probably won’t. Other coaches inherited the same or worse records a year ago and have done better than Temple has. Temple has some good players like linebackers Jordan Magee and Layton Jordan, defensive back Jalen McMurray and tight end Jordan Smith but it needs a lot of Magees, Jordans, McMurrays and Smiths and doesn’t have time to wait for high school recruits to develop.

Sadly humorous tweet from a fan watching the Temple-UCF game.

Other schools got good in a hurry by reaching that same conclusion and the solution is staring Drayton right in the face.

The same names Carey was being called by Temple fans could be attributed to past coaches at places like Georgia Southern, UConn, Troy and Duke but those places, unlike Temple, see new coaches prove themselves by the most important metric–the scoreboard.

Georgia Southern, also 3-9 a year ago, had only four starters returning on offense and two on defense and was able to beat a Big 10 team (Nebraska) and post a 5-3 record under former USC head coach Clay Helton. That guy also had the same number of months to build a roster and did so by bringing in 16 transfer starters from the portal.

UConn was 1-11 with only two starters on offense returning and three on defense yet first-year coach Jim Mora Jr. remade the roster to the point where the Huskies are 3-5 with a win over Fresno State and a decent chance for a bowl game.

Troy’s Jon Sumrall has his team with a 6-2 record after Chip Lindsay had three straight losing seasons there (one more than Carey did at Temple).

Duke also had a 3-9 record and fewer starters returning than Drayton did, somehow first-year coach Mike Elko is not taking long to turn things around there. The Blue Devils are 5-3, coming off a 45-21 win at Miami. That’s just four first-year coaches. Temple is not the only place in the world that had an awful coach ruin their program but those places hired guys who made an impact right away. Others, like Mike McIntryre (former Temple assistant) at FIU and Tony Elliot (Virginia) also have better records than Drayton does in the same time frame Drayton has had.

They did it by remaking the roster with high-end transfer portals. That’s the blueprint they left for Drayton to follow this coming off-season.

It’s something he probably should have done nine months ago but better late than never.

Otherwise, he’s setting Owls fans up for another year of heartbreak, isolation and dancing on their own on the subway going Northbound away from the Linc.

Friday: Navy Preview

17 thoughts on “Dancing on their own: The Temple Owls

  1. Please come back to reality. Bad enough what Carey did to this program chasing our core away. Drayton is the right guy. We need to focus on building depth everywhere. Like the Al Golden era we need to rebuild the foundation. EJ is our Adam around which our offense can be rebuilt. The is a lot of heart on this team. Give them a chance to rebuild.

  2. Time to vent and a few comments …..

    I’ve been following this team since my freshman year (1974) and finally have had enough. Yes there have been highs (Garden State Bowl win, PSU win) and lows (sitting through the 76-0 Pitt loss) and hate to say it but Temple football has turned into Groundhog Day. People continue to live in a pipe dream that an on campus stadium will fix everything. When me and my old cronies go to our 1 or 2 games a year the experience include tailgating. Where would this be done on campus? Leaving a basketball game is a mess waiting to get out of the parking garage. That would be a great experience to tailgate in a parking garage. For years I have thought we should just drop down to a lower level and bring back the other sports. Too many of us (me included) are like Al Bundy living in the past. It’s time to move on. At least when I’m living in the past for the next few weeks it will be the memories of sitting in the 600 level at the Vet with my Dad watching the Phillies win the World Series in 1980. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but I’m done for this year, but like the lemmings I will be back next year.

  3. I chuckled at the comment about coming back to reality. It’s sorely lacking right now when it comes to TUFB.

    Some positives were there on Friday night if you looked. Defense held their own for most of the game. First flash of a running game. First flash of what we could see from Saydee. QB hung in there despite having little protection throughout. Some gambles on playcalls. But the team is what it is – competitive defense, rookie QB, unproven RBs, some talent at WR.

    I was at a social gathering on Saturday and had a chance to chat with a player who was there during the Carey regime. His observations were interesting. One point that resonated was that Temple’s reputation in the recruiting community had become so poor that Drayton’s biggest challenge was to stop the exodus before he could focus on maxing out incoming transfers. The ex-player said he was stunned at how fast he had changed the reputation on that end and said he would expect to see some good movement after this season.

    The first year coach argument is interesting. But if you’re going to have that argument, you have to look at SMU, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, FIU, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Colorado State, Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii as well.

    Right now those are teams that at most have 3 wins. Some interesting situations if look below the line. Correlation isn’t necessarily causation when it comes to the portal.

  4. By now, EJ the QB has heard ‘wispering’ of ‘just maybe’ an opportunity else where. No way in Hades will he stay with Temple, if he has an aspirations to be a winner. The Portal is reality, especially for the talented trapped in a losing situation.

  5. Thought about going to the Navy Game until I found its a 3:30 PM game, meaning its dark when we leave. I don’t want to drive home to NJ in the dark, especially thru Marylands farm fields full of deer. Did a check of hotels around Annapolis with 40 mile circle, boy it is very expensive there for lodging. Again, another difficult situation for Temple fans, again… TU Football doesn’t have much good luck going on , even beyond the actual games…

    • It’s not just a matter of good or bad luck. TU higher ups have made some gosh awful choices picking their HCs over the years when there were better choices out there who would have jumped at the chance to earn what Temple offers for salaries. I certainly hope we can get at least one more win this season to equal Carey’s record from last year and then see what he does next season. But hiring someone who was only ever a position coach, never even a coordinator, just seems , well, ridiculous for 2 mil a year. Mr. Drayton, all the best luck but we want to see some success now.

      • That’s what I said when he was hired. Seems too much like a crony hire like the last few (Johnson/Drayton; Kraft/Carey; Collins/Rhule; Bradshaw/Dunphy). I wrote at the time I hoped it worked out but I also hoped those other ones did and they didn’t. Kraft played football at the same school Carey did a year before Carey did. Collins and Rhule coached at Albright and Western Carolina together. Bradshaw was the shortstop at LaSalle when Dunphy was the second baseman. Not great hires for Temple. I wanted Leipold before Carey and his performance at Kansas is proving me right.

  6. I’d be interested in knowing who some of these better choices are that would have jumped at the Temple job. There were a bunch of names thrown around before Stan was hired – some that were mentioned here did – that were pure fantasy or did not have interest in the Temple job.

    Leipold was one of them. He did not want an AAC job and he wanted to get out of the Northeast. Outside of Buffalo, his entire life has been in the midwest. His interest was P5. The job he took at Kansas was on par with Temple in terms of desirability at the time but Kansas was far closer to his roots.

    To be accurate on Drayton’s background, he was run game coordinator at Texas. Assistant HC at OSU under Urban Meyer. Assistant HC at Texas under the current and previous HC. Coached in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and the NFL. Coached on National Championship teams at Florida and OSU.

    Even with the deck of cards he is playing, he is doing okay compared to his peer group of first year coaches. He should move upward on that list once he gets out of year zero and on to year one.

  7. Coach is only as good as his players and considering when Coach D got to town, part of the team was leaving, part hadn’t gotten any good coaching, part was portaling in and another part had to be recruited, not an easy task for sure. Imagine how the staff felt when they first viewed the tape of the games.

    No choice but to be patient. Easy to say, but that’s the state of things on N Broad. To bake a good cake, you need to use the best ingredients. Just the recipe won’t make it work.

    • You can also buy a good cake. Giant has a lot of them. I bought a few for birthday friends who said it was their best cake. They were not lying because I tasted it, too. Buying a cake (transfer portal) is the way to win now. Baking one sets you up to taste a lousy cake and a long wait. Get me that Alcorn State running back and that icing would taste pretty good. The best running back coach in FBS should be able to sweet-talk him into coming to Temple.

  8. Depends on what kind of cake your friends are used to. If they’ve eaten Termini Bros cakes, good luck with that move.

    TU doesn’t have the wherewithal to “buy” any brand of cake, even Tastykake. They have to bake their own. P5 programs can buy good cake now that NIL is available.

  9. Mike, UCONN now 4-5 after beating BC. Just saying

    • Looks like we hired the wrong first-year coach. So many first-year coaching staffs doing better jobs than ours. No way you can convince me Uconn had better players at the end of last year than Temple did.

      • Mike, I would agree with you regarding TU talent level versus UCONN. Edsall’s recruiting seemed as bad as Carey and they had a bunch of transfers out as well. At this point Drayton better have a top recruiting class in the AAC, hit some home runs in the portal and get a top notch OC

      • I’m skeptical of our ability to upgrade a line that loses Moore, Klein and possibly even Stoffel but that’s why we pay Drayton $2 million a year. Hit that damn portal and show us all of the great recruiting ability we were sold he had.

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