A year ago at roughly this time, we outlined a rather grim but damn close to perfect 2021 season forecast.
We went through every game and saw only two wins for our most beloved sports team: The Temple football Owls.
We were only off by one game.
The coach who shall remain nameless gets no credit for exceeding our expectations because our reasoning was this: 1) because he brought in only six starters from the transfer portal and needed to bring in 15 starters, he failed in the offseason. 2) He lost the locker room that was already here.
Another valued poster here, KJ, chimed in with a 1-11 prediction. I take no joy that I was 33 percent closer to being right than he was simply because the win over Memphis proved to be an outlier. Every other game, even the 41-7 one over Wagner, proved him to be more right than me. (Temple should have beaten the worst team in FCS by 82-7, not 41-7.)
Signs of life are beginning to show at the $17 million Edberg-Olson Facility in that the Owls are lifting weights and running at a level we have not seen since Geoff Collins and Nick Sharga practiced in the snow in the January and February of 2017.
What happened then?
The Owls followed up a 10-win championship season with an acceptable but still underachieving 7-6 and a Gasparilla Bowl win over Butch Davis and FIU.
Underachieving because Matt Rhule left Collins with 10-win talent. Acceptable, because Collins was learning how to be a head coach for Georgia Tech on Temple’s time and Temple’s dime and his first-year loss to Villanova was an example of an entrenched good staff taking their ums and beating Temple’s better ums due to a coaching staff learning on the job. The Temple kids deserved better coaching that year.
This much we will give The Minister of Mayhem. His 8-5 in 2018 was way more impressive than the coach who shall remain nameless’ 8-5 the next season. Beating Cincinnati and fewer blowouts were the difference.
My guess and gut feeling is that new Temple coach Stan Drayton is closer to Collins than he is to the nameless guy simply because he got the team to buy in the same way Collins did and the opposite way the nameless guy did. He, unlike nameless, will be learning on the job but he, unlike nameless, has the respect and love of the kids and that cannot be underestimated.
Still, there is a learning curve for him as well. Collins’ curve was high and outside. Let’s hope Drayton’s curve catches the corner of the plate. John Chaney always liked to talk about the known and the unknown. Both Collins then and Drayton now are unknowns and that, at last to me, poses some concern.
Spring practice begins on March 11. It might not be the most important spring practice ever but certainly is the most important in at least five years.
If you see a real Cherry and White game, with hitting and punt returns and football excitement and fewer routine drills, that will be a good sign that 2022 will be closer to 2017 than 2021.
Until then, we will reserve a game-by-game forecast.
What Drayton has done to this point buys him that much wiggle room.
Monday: Outside Noise