Time for a new Temple tradition

The Temple brand was enhanced when single-digit guy Haason Reddick pointed to Kevin Neghandi on an ESPN show after the Owls won the AAC title.

While waiting for the most consequential television show about Temple since the 2016 AAC championship game, the thought occurred that the most high-profile of recent departures tweeted about receiving offers from Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt.

That’s what the transfer portal has come down to these days.

Darian Varner “thanked” Temple paying for his surgery by going elsewhere. Here he watches the ECU game from the sidelines. (Photo Courtesy of Temple Super Fan Mike Edwards)

An All-AAC defensive end leaving Temple for maybe … maybe … two bottom-feeders in Power 5 Conferences. SMH (or shaking my head as the kids say today). Does Darian Varner really think his NFL draft status will be more enhanced by playing for a losing ACC or SEC team vs. perhaps winning the AAC Defensive Player of the Year for a resurgent Temple?

If so, he’s getting some very bad advice.

Varner is not only the latest departure from Temple but he represents a trend that can and should be stopped now.

Single-digit guys leaving Temple.

It’s Varner this year, last year it was Jadan Blue and a couple of years ago it was Quincy Roche and Isaiah Graham-Mobley. Then Temple fans had to not only go through the indignity of watching their former players on TV for teams they don’t like, but they also have to hear the announcers tell them how tough the guy was because he earned a single digit at Temple.

After the signing day show (Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN+), Temple head coach Stan Drayton can remedy that situation with one simple announcement.

No more single digits will ever be awarded at Temple until the summer camp before that player’s senior and final season of eligibility at 10th and Diamond.

Part of being Temple TUFF is being Temple Committed and only those guys who stay until the end should be rewarded with a single digit for their final seasons. No longer will it be rewarded to underclassmen who have an option to leave.

It’s a Temple tradition and should remain that way.

Wednesday is shaping up as at least a decent day because the best high school running back in Florida (Joquez Smith) and ONE of (if not the best) high school wide receivers in that state (Richard Dandridge) reaffirmed their intentions of signing on the dotted line last week. They have a shot at Colorado State’s best defensive lineman and another transfer portal defensive lineman from Nebraska. Decent turns into good with the addition of those linemen. Good turns into outstanding if the Owls can grab an established FBS or FCS running back.

That’s important because if Temple doesn’t sign a 1,000-yard rusher from the transfer portal, the Owls only hope of upgrading the running game is if Smith either beats out Edward Saydee or Saydee has twice the production next year that he had this one. The Dandridge piece is important because he appears to be the heir apparent for Jose Barbon, who is leaving for the NFL draft. I don’t see Saydee getting twice as good and maybe Smith steps in and pulls the kind of true freshman season Bernard Piece did in 2009. Preferably, you’d like to see a big-time portal running back and a big-time portal wide receiver joining those two.

If Barbon came back, he certainly deserved a single digit.

If Smith and Dandridge stay for the full four years, they certainly should receive every consideration for the same honor prior to their final seasons.

Not before.

The era of Temple single digits leaving for elsewhere is something that can be easily fixed and should.

Friday: Reaction to Early Signing Day

Monday: Five Plays We’d Like to Have Back


22 thoughts on “Time for a new Temple tradition

  1. I’ll ask again – is the running back “problem” just the runners or was it the blocking that didn’t give Saydee much of a chance to get better yardage? Not that we don’t need more running backs, but our backs were stacked up almost all the time for only 2-3 yard gains. I think they’re better than that but need some openings to run through!

    • When a RB can’t maintain balance to get the extra yards, it’s a RB problem. So many times Saydee was stopped short of the first-down marker because he spun around and instead of using his hands to maintain balance and remain upright, his knee would hit the ground. It this was one or two times, that would be one thing. But it was a constant throughout the season. The great backs stay on their feet and get another set of downs. Adam Klein, Victor Stoeffel, and Isaac Moore are very good offensive linemen. I don’t think the major problem with the running game was the OL.

      • Add scheme to the problems.., you CAN’T run the spread option successfully when your QB is not a threat to run.

        Warner doesn’t leave the line of scrimmage for obvious reasons. HUGE issue, change the scheme or put weights in Warners pants.

        TU must first change the scheme, AND get a few downhill, North/South, RBs.

      • I see what you mean, but that doesn’t explain so many times when they weren’t near a first down yet and were only gaining a couple yards per carry, often on first down and got nothing – seemed to me they didn’t have any openings most of the time – but I could be wrong….

      • The hole doesn’t exist forever. You can one quick burst and if you don’t hit it fast enough, it looks like there’s no hole. Also agree with KJ that a running game without a running quarterback threat is nowhere near as effective as one with a guy who can turn the corner. That’s where you’ve got to bring more blockers to the point of attack and using two tight ends, putting one in motion as an additional blocker.

  2. Please lets not ‘hint’ that the QB Warner was an issue on the non-running game. A wonderful pocket passer is THE Joy of Football, he has such quick recognition for plays’ developments, rare to see.

    • The criticism wasn’t of Warner but of the scheme. They can still have a great passing game AND running game with Warner if they go double-tight end with one of the TEs in motion as a blocker for the run game. Now they are banging their heads against the wall by sending running backs behind an OL without that extra TE or FB block. Plus, Temple’s got great tight ends so the more you can keep on the field the better.

      • right on.

        any chance Varner stays? IMHO he is better off w/TUFB than w/any of those other programs.

      • Given the Vandy and Va. Tech situations, he’d be incredibly dumb to not return to Temple. He’s got to know who Jadan Blue is. Blue was a much more productive player at Temple than he was at Va. Tech and actually killed any chance of being drafted by leaving Temple. Same would happen to Varner. Drayton and Antoine Smith should be in his ear.

  3. Mike,

    txt me your address, Kona Coffee is coming.


  4. Signing Francis, Wright, and Wilson shows Drayton needs bodies, badly.

    • Wright looks like he could be a good signing. Don’t know why he only played in 2 games last year, injured? but his production the prior 3 years looked solid. Wilson was underwhelming.
      Based on the Rivals rankings, for what they are worth, this is the best recruiting class in the past 5 years

  5. His 2019 season was better than Jadan Blue’s 2019 season and that was a great season. Have to assume the coaching change at CSU had something to do with it. Arguably, Daz did a better job than the guy who replaced him (so far). Love Anderson, Baines, Wright, DMR, Smith, etc. Plenty of receiving weapons for E.J. Don’t know if the other E.J. has enough production in his background to beat out Saydee for the No. 1 tailback job. Joquez might have the talent to do it. I hope he’s a shorter version of BP and a better version of Matty Brown. To me, E.J. #1 goes from 18 TDs and 12 interceptions to 30TDs and six INTs ONLY if he has a representative running game to work with. He did not this year.

  6. Drayton Signing Day Press Conference:

    1. Nothing but softball questions, what are the reporters afraid of? Why no questions regarding NIL? What impact did NIL have on this recruiting cycle? Drayton admitted Varner wanted/needed NIL $$. So Va Tech is giving out NIL? Perhaps the better question is, who else in the AAC, besides TU, does not have $$$ for NIL?

    2. Coach loves Joquez Smith

    3. TUFB will add another 5-6 players between now and the end of Spring Practice.

    4. The NCAA should require every school to publish an NIL payout report before each season. The conferences should do it regardless.., all the uni presidents need to step up and speak out. The uni presidents have been mum on NIL.., are they not responsible and accountable? Leadership failures!!!

    5. TUFB will go to a bowl game next year.

    • With regards to you 4th about getting some accountability around NIL payments are things almost at a point where the P5 conferences with the most NIL $$ (BIG and SEC) won’t even bother with what the NCAA says?

      • Correct. There is zero oversight and won’t be. The NCAA is deathly afraid that the P5 conferences are going to break away and create their own version of college sports, including March Madness (which would, of course, both ruin the NCAA and take away its No. 1 source of revenue). To me, the greatest thing about March Madness are the St. Peters, George Masons, Loyola Marymounts, Butlers, Loyola Chicagos, etc. that make for the best Cinderella stories. There are no Cinderellas in the P5.

    • 1. Kevin Kopp is the best softball pitcher I’ve seen since Eddie Feigner (can’t blame him; he’s employed by Temple to do just that).
      2. Wish there was more film on Joquez.
      3. I hope one of those 5-6 is a big-time running back.
      4. Presidents have been MIA.
      5. From your lips to God’s ears.

  7. Here’s a thought, although some lawyer would argue (and win) it’s restraint of trade: The school accepting a transfer portal has to reimburse the school that player left for their expenses in training that player. Uniforms, pads, shoes, helmets, training table, tutoring, books, tuition (since some credits will have to transfer so the player is immediately eligible). If a school is going to provide the basic services of a JC, at least get reimbursed.

    I would think every coach would get behind the concept, from Akron to Alabama. They’re already griping about tampering, so here’s a way to get some recompense and slow down the exodus of disappointed athletes.

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