From this seat, it was never a case of love at first sight with Stan Drayton.
There were too many red flags associated with so many past negative Temple major sports hirings.
When a new AD comes in and conducts a so-called “national search” and picks his old buddy, it seldom works out.
Bill Bradshaw proved that when the former LaSalle shortstop flipped the ball to his college teammate second baseman, Fran Dunphy, to succeed the legendary John Chaney. In baseball terms, that was an E6.
Pat Kraft got burned so bad by Manny Diaz that his Neosporin ointment was a fellow offensive lineman at Indiana University named Rod Carey. That was comfort food after a bad breakup and hiring Carey was Kraft’s way of eating a bucket of ice cream at midnight while lamenting the girl who left him for the better-looking guy.
One hiring was bad. The next was a disaster.
So your first hope was that new AD Arthur Johnson would conduct a national search and his socks would be so blown off by a candidate he never knew let alone worked with.
When former Texas Football Director of operations Johnson hired a Texas football running backs coach he worked closely with at his prior job, the cringe factor was off the charts.
Particularly given past Temple hiring history.
While I disagreed with that hiring, my hopes were that it would work out just like my hopes were with Dunphy and Carey.
In those cases, hope didn’t get me sustained success in March Madness or multiple bowl games.
From a Temple football perspective, I knew at the end of the first year it would not work out with Carey and we wrote as much in this space after the 55-13 loss to North Carolina in the Miltary Bowl. No winning Temple football team I ever knew had losses as embarrassing as Carey’s, and that was a huge red flag. He got a D in his first year.
Drayton, though, has grown on me and has earned a solid B.
Yes, he had a head-scratching 70-13 loss to UCF but his team was way more competitive in most games than Carey’s team was in his first year. He gets As for improving the culture, stopping the transfer portal bleeding, recruiting, and overall CEO leadership.
What would have made the overall grade an A?
The D in game management dropped the overall grade to a B and that’s from a generous marker.
Drayton doesn’t deserve blame for the Navy loss. Everett Withers does. To me, it’s a no-brainer when you get a first-and-goal at the Navy 5 in the last minute of regulation, the logical play call is to fake a run, roll E.J. Warner right away from the pressure and, have him toss the throwback pass to tight end David Martin-Robinson who probably would have been wide open for six and the win. First-and-goal at the 5 the “illogical” play is a handoff to Edward Saydee who is just not a good goal-line back. You can’t settle for a field goal there.
Drayton doesn’t deserve blame for a freak-tipped ball interception that resulted in a loss to Rutgers. Just a great play by the RU guy.
What he does deserve blame for are questionable in-game decisions at Houston and against East Carolina. Better clock management on Temple’s penultimate drive at Houston would have resulted in a Zae Baines’ touchdown catch not with 1:22 left but with 25 or fewer seconds left and a signature Temple win. Milk that clock and make Dana Holgorsen use not one but two timeouts.
Bringing in Quincy Patterson, a 6-4, 252-pound backup quarterback for a sneak, would have “likely” secured the first down on a third-and-1 play at midfield against East Carolina and a win. A third-and-one pass is never a good idea unless you decide to go for it on fourth-and-one.
The kids were responsible for just one of the above four mistakes. The adults in the room were responsible for the other three.
Add it all up and it’s the difference between 3-9 and 7-5. That would have made the grade an A+. Hell, just three of the four would have pushed it up to an A.
Chalk it up to a rookie head coach making rookie mistakes. He seems to me like a guy who can learn from his mistakes and get the Owls where they need to go.
Winning AAC championships.
There are exceptions to every rule and if Drayton brings home another trophy to the E-O to sit alongside the Matt Rhule one, this hire will be the first win for the buddy system in Temple history.
Friday: A New Beginning
Monday: Greener Grass and Blue Players
Friday (12/9): Priorities
Monday: (12/12): Targets