Roughly nine years a couple of months ago, the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame took a head coaching job at an AAC school.
It wasn’t just any defensive coordinator. It was the one, Bob Diaco, voted as the Broyles Award Winner, the best assistant coach in the country.
For UCONN, it was a spectacular fail of a hire, hitting on a number of themes we warn about here on a regular basis (i.e., being an assistant is a totally different job from a head coach and being good at one is no guarantee of success at the other).
Classroom, community, competition, complex.
Those are the four C’s that helped Al Golden build Temple from a 20-consecutive loss team to a nationally respected program.
When Golden took the Temple job, the Owls were ranked dead last in the classroom and lost scholarships due to a poor APR. By the Eagle Bank Bowl, the Owls were ranked among the best in the classroom. Under Golden, the Owls were a regular part of the community, building bridges of trust with the neighbors. The competition factor was there for all to see as the Owls went from 1-11 to 5-7 to 9-3 and 8-4 in Golden’s final season.
As far as the complex, one of Al’s secretaries told me his last sentence on the day he left the E-O was: “God, I love this place.” He then turned around and walked out the door. Miami and the big money were even more of a lure than that love.
There was some talk about Golden, like Diaco, going from an assistant coach (this time in the NFL) to head coach at UConn. No one knows if UConn offered the job to Al but I would not be surprised if the Huskies did and he turned them down.
Notre Dame might not have been on the horizon then but it certainly makes sense now than any current G5 head coaching job.
That’s because the UConn head coaching job as presently constituted is now an inferior job to the Notre Dame DC and, if Golden didn’t see that, he wasn’t reading the current college football landscape right and he’s too smart for that.
Reason being that the deck of cards that were stacked against the G5 schools even back in 2013 are even more slanted today. G5 players routinely transfer to the P5 even if they have a modicum of success and that wasn’t even a thing in 2013.
Moreso, a G5 team probably will never make the CFB playoff after Cincinnati goes to the Big 12 because one of the leagues, the ACC, is dead set against playoff expansion.
Back in 2013, there was always some hope for the G5 to eventually join the big boy club but now it looks more and more impossible.
Marcus Freeman jumped from DC to perennially top 10 program HC at Notre Dame and that’s probably the path more coaches feel will be more realistic in the future than grabbing a HC job at a G5 and moving on up to the East side.
Golden was rumored as a head coaching candidate to replace Rod Carey at Temple but at least six of his former players told me he would not take it not because it was Temple but because “he loves being in the NFL.” A contrary view by a guy who coached with Al at Temple told me that Golden himself told him that he would take the Temple job if the Owls “recruited” him. My response to that guy, who currently works in the NFL, was that since Golden is in the school’s Hall of Fame that’s a courtesy Temple should have extended him. It probably never happened because the school’s new Texas AD was enamored with hiring a guy from the same school, much like LaSalle’s Bill Bradshaw hired a guy from his school (Fran Dunphy) and Indiana’s Pat Kraft hired a guy from his school (Rod Carey).
You would think those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it but there are always exceptions to every rule and, as a Temple fan, I hope the hiring of Drayton gives the Owls a .333 batting average in crony hires. Right now, it’s 0-for-2. You know what George W. Bush was getting at when he said “fool me twice” even if it escaped him at the moment.
Well, it turned out that the Owls a) probably did not “recruit” Golden and b) that Golden didn’t love the NFL so much he wouldn’t return to college for the right job.
For him, being an assistant at Notre Dame is a better job than HC at UConn and, probably, Temple.
Sadly, for his career trajectory, he is probably right.
That wouldn’t have been the case nine years ago and that’s another reason why college football has devolved and not evolved in that relatively short span of time.
Fans of teams like Temple should take no joy in that fact.
Monday: The Calendar