Marching into the most important spring practice

Bad weather was no excuse for the Owls to shut down in the winter of 2017, like it was in the winter of 2021

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.

Spring practice begins in a week

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.)

Now what?

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

What would Geoff Collins do?

According to the website coacheshotseat.com, two former Temple guys sit at Nos. 14 and 15, respectively.

While there seems to be some debate about how rosy the future is for Rod Carey at Temple, there is less debate about current Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins had he remained at Temple.

It would not have ended well.

Yikes …

Hell, my best guess has been since December of 2019 that it won’t end well for Carey here but Collins didn’t tee things up for Rod like Matt Rhule did for Geoff.

Carey probably has one more year, maybe two, to post a winning season at Temple or he’s out of here.

Collins would have been on a shorter leash had he remained here simply because his contract would have been up.

Collins recruited primarily from the South, eschewed local connections, and his two classes were mediocre at best.

Had he remained here would he have been able to switch gears like Carey did in the offseason, promote Gabe Infante and hire a guy like Preston Brown?

Doubtful.

So, in my mind and probably in a lot of other minds, Temple is slightly better off with Carey than Collins.

Put it this way: Carey beat Collins, 24-2, with AAC talent while Collins had the benefit of ACC recruiting classes.

Knowing Temple as I do, Carey will probably be able to survive a 2-4 win season as most of the experts expect the Owls to have. Look at it this way: Did Steve Addazio survive a four-win season at Temple?

He sure did until Boston College took the Owls off the hook.

Temple rarely fires head coaches who it owes money to and I doubt they’d start with Carey.

Collins, on the other hand, is feeling the heat in Atlanta and that comes with the Power 5 territory.

Maybe he can make a move to solidify his job by capitalizing on the new NIL rule, but that remains to be seen. The fans there are restless and a story published over the weekend illustrated why.

That’s Georgia Tech’s problem, not Temple’s. We have our own, of course, but things could have been worse.

Friday-Monday: Off the Grid (we’ll be in the Poconos this weekend and our only internet will be by phone so no stories)

Friday, July 30: Summer camp preview

Game Day: Revisionist History

 

collins

Maybe the Owls’ defense will finally show Collins what Mayhem looks like this afternoon.

You never like to say a guy is lying but, for two years, Geoff Collins stretched the truth a lot of his time at Temple University.

None more than earlier this week in the formal press conference leading up to today’s game (3:30, Lincoln Financial Field) when he answered a question this way:
On whether there’s familiarity in the Temple roster after being the coach there previously:

“The entire two-deep either played for us for the last two years or we recruited them.”

Hmm.

Not exactly a lie, but not exactly the truth either. The truth part is that “the entire two-deep either played for us” is correct. That’s to be expected, though. What was Collins supposed to do when he arrived at Temple? Play guys who weren’t there previously? The recruited part? Not so much.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 10.01.13 PM

Checking the two-deep released in the pre-game notes against the recruiting charts of both Scout.com and Rivals.com, as many as 17 starters in today’s game were recruited not by Collins but by Matt Rhule and one (Harrison Hand) was recruited by Rod Carey.

Less even last year when only two starters–both offensive line tackles–were recruited by Collins.

When he arrived, Collins promised defensive Mayhem. If you count your own players not staying home on cutback running plays as Mayhem, he delivered. If not, and I don’t, Mayhem never arrived.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 10.33.12 PM

Pre-game watching at the Steve Conjar tailgate …

OK, Geoff, whatever you say.

The bottom line of the Collins Era at Temple is that he underachieved with the talent he inherited and wasn’t the dynamic recruiter everyone expected him to be when he arrived in Philadelphia. Rhule, who won 10 games in consecutive years, left Collins with 10-win talent both seasons and Collins underachieved by roughly five games.

web_7day_1280x720 (1)

Just a Cherry-colored tank top or t-shirt needed today. Hopefully, everybody goes in from the tailgates and cheers their lungs off for the Owls.

That’s not to say Collins–an engaging bull-crapper, no doubt–won’t be able to sweet-talk recruits to attend Georgia Tech.

It is to say that it did not happen for him here.

For Temple to win today, it will have to do something that Rhule put a premium on–protecting the football. The Owls have to treat it like Gold and, if they win the turnover battle, they should be all right. That should be the lesson of Buffalo going forward.

Something tells me Carey understands that better than the snake oil salesman who is someone else’s problem now.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 10.35.29 PM

Post-game watching at the Steve Conjar tailgate (although I think he will be packed up long before the 10 p.m. game)

Tomorrow: Game Analysis

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner

Thursday: ECU Preview

Friday: Game Analysis

Patenaude: Just what the doctor ordered

Let’s face it: The Temple Owls looked sick last week against Buffalo and they need a prescription to look like their old selves–or at least the Rosey-cheeked (Cherry-cheeked?) group that played against Maryland.

A Dave Patenaude pill washed down by a little of Geoff Collins’ swag juice might be just what the doctor ordered and that should be delivered at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday (3:30 p.m.) when Georgia Tech head coach Collins and his offensive coordinator Patenaude come to town.

At least that’s what Vegas thinks as the Owls were installed as a 9.5-point favorite and that rose to double-digits quickly.

Football is a strange game with an odd-shaped ball that takes funny bounces so it cannot be predicted from a mathematical standpoint. If that were the case, Syracuse, which beat Liberty (24-0) and lost to a Maryland-team (63-20) with Liberty beating Buffalo (35-17) would have meant Temple over Buffalo by 85 points.

It didn’t work out that way because it’s hard to give an X factor to overconfidence or a Y factor to turnovers or a Z factor to three dropped third-down passes.

Still, the variables involved with Patenaude and, to a lesser extent, Collins are pretty rigid and well-known in Temple land and have carried over to Atlanta.

performance

Patenaude with the approval of Collins overhauled a highly successful Temple pro-type (at least the same pro-type run by Bill Belichick in Boston) and turned it into a spread ill-advised to suit the talents of the team he inherited all because that’s what “everybody else” does or because that’s what he did at Coastal Carolina.  He probably should have won nine regular-season games his first year (instead of six) using the Matt Rhule system and at least 10 his second year but underachieved both years. In the 40-plus years I’ve followed Temple football, Patenaude was the worst coordinator-level coach here I’ve ever seen and there was not even a close second.

National people who don’t know better think Collins did a great job here. Local people here, not so much.

So what has he done in Atlanta?

He repeats the same mistake again, trying to force-fit square pegs into round holes.

Both have a team that was exclusively recruited to run a triple-option and have now turned it into a college spread because (you guessed it) “everybody else does it.” Great generals know if they have a strong infantry and weak cavalry they don’t design an attack based on the kind of cavalry they hope to have. Instead, they accentuate the infantry in any battleplan. Similarly, great coaches like Belichick don’t do things because everybody else does it. They do things to fit their personnel and make it work with flawless execution. If Patenaude and Collins were great coaches, they would recruit the personnel they want to fit their offense first and make it work only when those guys are ready to play and not the other way around. They would try to make some form of a triple-option work until then.

Rod Carey proved last week that he wasn’t perfect (really, no one is). I’m still no more thrilled that he has Anthony Russo run a read-option offense than I would be if Belichick did the same with Tom Brady. Overall, though,  I’m glad he’s the doctor to nurse this team back to health and those guys on the other sideline holding up silly money down placards are the cure.

At least that’s what my instincts tell me. We will find out for sure in 48 hours.

Predictions early this week (to get the Maryland-PSU game in): MARYLAND getting 6.5 against visiting Penn State, WAKE FOREST giving 6.5 against visiting Boston College, SMU giving 7 at South Florida, EAST CAROLINA getting 3 at Old Dominion, UAB giving 2 at Western Kentucky, TOLEDO getting 3.5 over visiting BYU, CINCINNATI giving 3 at Marshall. Last week: 5-0 against the spread with Coastal Carolina covering the 17 against UMass (winning, 62-28), Old Dominion covering the 30-point underdog status at Virginia (losing, 28-17), Boston College covering the 7 at Rutgers (winning, 30-16), Indiana covering the 27 against UConn (winning, 38-3) and Iowa State covering the 29.5 against Louisiana-Monroe (winning, 72-20). Season so far: 12-4 straight up, 6-5 against the spread. 

Saturday: Game Day

Sunday: Game Analysis

TFF: Banned by Collins

maymeister

The promised Mayhem was just another Collins’ lie.

In the two years observing Geoff Collins up close, we can sum him up in a few words:

More style than substance.


He always struck me
as Steve Addazio 2.0
with one eye on the
coach’s exit door
the entire two years
he was here

At least that’s my take and, after talking to a lot of former Temple football players who played mostly for substance coaches, that’s pretty much a universal take on him, too.

Now we can add another personality trait to Collins:

Thin-skinned.

I’m not much of a twitter guy. I’m on it only because of the business associated with this blog. I’ve never asked a single person to follow me and I never will but, much to my amazement, I have 378 followers.

Thankful for them all.

I’m a lot more selective in people I follow and only follow 238 but one of the people was Collins because he was a savvy social media guy and I wanted to hear what he had to say.  I never interacted with @CoachCollins on twitter, just followed him. Never said a word to him on twitter or reacted to any of his posts.

So consider my surprise a few days ago when I checked Collins out on twitter for the first time since he quit Temple only to see this:

Screenshot 2019-05-04 at 1.08.45 PM

I can only assume that since I’ve never said anything to Collins on social media that he is blocking Temple Football Forever instead.

Forever.

I’ve been told I’m not the only Temple fan blocked by Collins on twitter but the difference between me and them is that most of those guys have said something to Collins on Twitter so I’ve got to assume that something was written in this space has gotten under Collins’ skin.

To that I say good.

For one, I’m glad he’s gone. He’s a terrible game-day coach and his offensive coordinator was the most ill-fitted coach, assistant or head, in Temple history.  As game day coaches of the last decade go, Matt Rhule was No. 1, Al Golden No. 2, Steve Addazio No. 3 and Collins fourth. When you are a worse game day coach than Al and Steve, that’s not good.

Mostly, though, it’s about credibility.

Really the only time I ever talked to Collins was at the first season ticket-holder party when I asked him to do me one favor.

“What’s that?” he said.

“Make Nick Sharga an every-down fullback.”

“Don’t worry. I’m the fullback coach and we’re going to use him more than they used him last year.”

Since “last year” was the year Sharga pretty much led the team to the AAC championship as a three-down fullback, I was satisfied with that answer.

Collins, of course, lied. Now we know he followed this blog and was upset with its contents. My biggest problem with him in his first year was he pissed away any chance Temple had of repeating its AAC title by abandoning the very offense that its players were recruited to execute. Tailback with a lead fullback blocker, establish the run and make explosive downfield plays in the passing game off play-action fakes. Instead, he eschewed the “best fullback in the nation” (his words) by playing him one down a series, if that. Now he’s going to screw up his first season at Georgia Tech by doing the same thing. Making an entire team recruited to play the triple option run Dave Patenaude’s version (pass first, run second) of the read-option. If that’s not a formula for disaster, I don’t know what is. Georgia Tech fans, you can’t say you have not been warned.

So he’s a certified liar who was more schtick than substance and now we can add the trifecta of being thin-skinned. He always struck me as Steve Addazio 2.0 with one eye on the coach’s exit door the entire two years he was here. In fact, pretty much a year and a month ago we predicted that Collins would be headed to Georgia Tech with this post on March 7, 2018.

From what I’ve seen of Rod Carey so far, he hasn’t displayed any of those negative traits. Temple football is better off with Carey both on Sept. 28 and every other day going forward.

Tuesday: The Newbies

Friday: The Listerine Bowl

Mark the Calendar: 9/28/2019

Screenshot 2019-03-27 at 10.18.32 PM

A recent headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The guys who write the scripts in Hollywood could not have penned a better outline for at least one game this Temple season.

The Minister of Mayhem vs. Mr. Traditonal Buttoned Down coach.

As boring as the opener versus Bucknell should be (the April 13 practice that takes the place of the Cherry and White game this year will be more competitive), the storyline on 9/28/2019 should represent a season’s worth of drama.

The most interesting part of this script is that it was made possible long before the plot line was established as it was negotiated in September of 2017 by Temple athletic director Pat Kraft. Geoff Collins was just starting his first season at Temple and Rod Carey was in the fifth of is six at Northern Illinois.

Now the guy who is known for “swag” and “money downs” will be replaced by a more traditional coach and it will be a battle of old and new. Cell phones versus landline. Social media versus texting.

Make no mistake about one thing: The more motivated team should be on the home side of this one because the Owls would like nothing better to take down their ex-head coach. The Yellowjackets don’t even know who Rod Carey is. There should also be a sizable group of hometown Temple fans who will be similarly motivated.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution already made note of this fact (see graphic at the top of this post) recently and the accompanying story said this:
“Given the itinerant nature of the profession, it’s not unheard of for a coach to face a former employer. Coach Paul Johnson faced Georgia Southern, which he led to two Division I-AA (now FCS) national championships, in 2014 and 2015, but that was 13 years and two jobs after he had left Statesboro.
“But this a meeting of a different sort. Much of the Owls’ roster will be made up of players who were recruited to Temple by Collins.”

Kraft pulled a coup when he scheduled this game not because of the circumstances that developed, but because of the circumstances that existed. Home and homes between P5 and G5 teams are unusual enough. Home and homes that give the G5 the team the first date are impossible to find. (Usually, this is set up to allow the P5 team to dump the G5 team if something better comes along). Temple returns the favor in 2025, not 2020.

ESPN should give this storyline major play and no one should be surprised if the game (listed as TBA now) be moved off a noon slot to a more appealing 3:30 or night time slot. After all, the television markets involved are four (Philadelphia) and nine (Atlanta) nationally. This has the makings of a higher-than-usual audience for a late September non-conference game.

No one knows if the “money downs” signs will be on the other side of Lincoln Financial Field, but I would not be surprised.

All that matters will be actually turning those money downs into real-time stops and Temple could have the advantage in that regard.

It should be the most fun home date of this or the last several years.

Monday: Glass Houses

Geoff Collins: The Elephant In The Room

elephant

From the time Geoff Collins walked past the line of cheerleaders leading him to his introductory press conference at the Liacouras Center, I had one overriding thought.

He’s gone.

Talking about Collins leaving has always been the Elephant in the Temple football room.

No, maybe not the next day or week or year, but this is not the kind of guy who is going to stop and make Temple a home for the long-term.

None of them are.

The days of Wayne Hardin staying for 13 years and building Temple into a respectable program are gone forever.

6fb62-elephant-in-the-room

Now Collins’ name is being floated around for his “dream” job (Georgia Tech) and he’s as mum about it as he is about Temple injuries. The thing to remember about Collins is that he is, as the old Ricky Nelson song says, a “Traveling Man.” Look at his stops: Georgia Tech, Alabama, FIU, UCF, Mississippi State, Florida, Temple.

He does not stay in one place long enough to buy green bananas at the Pub Linx, Winn Dixie or Ac-a-me.

He might get the Georgia job, he might not. (Chargers’ offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is rumored to be the leading candidate.) There will be other “dream jobs” for Collins down the line.

Unfortunately, one of them won’t be Temple, which has always been a place holder.

To me, Georgia Tech would be better off hiring Whisenhunt or Army head coach Jeff Monken than it would be Collins, but that’s just me. Whisenhunt is a GT grad and Monken runs the very same triple-option offense most of the GT players have been recruited to run.

fiucollins

Collins at Florida International

Still, it should not come as a surprise to hear on the radio next week that Collins has accepted the head coaching job at Georgia Tech because he’s got the gift of gab and that sometimes carries the day in coaching interviews.

Steve Addazio had that and that’s why he became the late Lew Katz’s favorite for the Temple job over then-athletic director’s Bill Bradshaw’s heavy Matt Rhule lean. With a BOT member and big donor like Katz behind him, Rhule never stood a chance.

He stayed one year to be Daz’s recruiting coordinator and then was off to apprentice under the great Tom Coughlin and a New York Giants’ team that has never really recovered after him.

Rhule came back a more polished coach and he probably was the most respected one among the players on the Golden and Daz staffs.

Rhule, like Al Golden before him, was the perfect fit for Temple so hearing him leave on the radio after leading the Owls to the AAC championship really was a shock. Rhule followed Golden’s binder to perfection–recruit a complete team (11 offensive players, 11 defensive ones, 3 specialists) every year, build an offense around running the ball and controlling the clock and dominate on defense. Put together an assistant coaching staff and guys deep in FBS experience, establish relationships with Pennsylvania and New Jersey high school coaches, pluck an occasional kid away from Florida, and away we go.

Collins has been and will continue to be an “imperfect” fit for Temple. Many of his key assistants are FCS level and below and that inexperience hurt the Owls on the field early this season. Several from the south (two from Georgia). He recruits largely in the south and has virtually no relationship with Southeastern and South Jersey high school coaches. His offensive coordinator is probably the worst fit for Temple in the history of assistant coaches. Playing a tight game against Villanova one year and losing to them the next is a Cardinal sin that should never be forgiven by any Temple fan, administrator or student. That loss rests right at the feet of his OC.

Temple football survived the loss of Golden and Rhule, who are better fitted for 10th and Diamond than Daz and Collins were and are. We all know Golden can win here, probably knows that quarterback Anthony Russo is better-suited to operate out of a pro set than a read-option, is a sure thing and probably available. Golden has great relationships with Ed Foley and Adam DiMichele, who should be holdovers. Whatever, the next Temple head coach should be a proven head guy with a ready-made staff and not an assistant coach who has to learn on the job.

Should Collins exit stage left this week or next, this year or next, Pat Kraft’s charge will be to find one of those better fits and a guy who has learned the hard way that the grass is not always greener beyond the 10th and Diamond fence.

Monday: Reshuffling The Bowls

Where did we hear this tune before?

kraft

Listening to the post-game show at Boston College, I thought I could hear a familiar tune playing in the background when Temple head coach Geoff Collins was speaking.

“Really good game, really proud of how hard our guys fought,” Collins said. “That was a very physical game, and our guys were up to it.”

Wait.

Didn’t Temple LOSE by 10 points and not WIN by 10 points?

Collins has shown plenty in the way of schtick (money downs, swag, catchy nicknames, etc.) but very little in the way of substance (8-8 record) a not-so-sweet 16 games into his head coaching career.

wallace

The quote sounded familiar so I reached back into the archives of some roughly 10-point losses in losing seasons (if you haven’t checked, 2-3 so far is a losing season) and came up with these gems from guys who had more schtick than substance:

Oct. 17, 2004 (Philadelphia Inquirer): The Owls lost at Rutgers, 16-6, on the way to a 2-9 season. This is what Bobby Wallace said after that game. “We may have lost, but I didn’t see any quit in this team. I’m proud of them.”

Oct. 21, 1995: Owls lost, 32-22, at East Carolina. Ron Dickerson, their then coach, said this in Mike Kern’s Monday, Oct. 23 wrap in the Philadelphia Daily News: “I’m proud of the way our guys fought. We’ve got some things to clean up and we’re going to do it.” That was the seventh game of the season. Owls finished 1-10 that year.

dickerson

Sept. 2, 1989: Owls lost, 31-24, at Western Michigan (I was there). In my Doylestown Intelligencer story, I quoted then head coach Jerry Berndt: “That was a very physical game and my guys matched their toughness. We’re going to win a lot of games this year.” Owls went on to lose every other game until the season finale at home against Rutgers.

The point is that Collins might not be as bad as that Unholy Trinity of Temple head coaches, but he’s heavy on the schtick and way too light on the substance so far. Eight and eight is the very definition of mediocre. Those three guys had plenty of schticks and zero substance but Collins has a future and he better be satisfied with only winning going forward.

You want substance? How about instead of holding up “money down” signs this Saturday on third down just get off the field instead? Temple ranks an abysmal 118 out of 127 FBS teams in third-down defense making a mockery of the whole money down joke. Just drop it. The Temple way before Collins got here was just doing it, not talking about doing it. Let’s get back to that.

Being proud of the way the guys fight doesn’t do much for your legacy. Win and win a  lot more games than you lose. Everything else is just an excuse.

As Chris “Mad Dog” Russo used to say to co-partner Mike Francesa on the greatest sports talk show ever: “WIN THE GAME, MIKEY!!!!. WIN. THE. GAME!!!”

He’s got to up his game to avoid their same fate. I would have preferred to hear a pissed-off Larry Bowa version of Collins after a loss than a Gabe Kapler “everything is hunky dory” version that we heard on Saturday.

jerryberndt

Being “really proud” of “the way the guys fought” gets you nothing but 1-10, 1-10 and 2-9.

There better be plenty of some industrial strength cleaning up going on at the $17 million Edberg-Olson Complex and not just talking about it. Talking about cleaning things up five games in gets you more talking about cleaning things up eight games in and, before you know it, the season is over. How come this stuff wasn’t cleaned up by Sept. 1?

One of the most alarming things about the five-game season so far is the apparent regression of the rushing defense.

Last year, the Owls seemed to get a handle on the rushing game, holding the opponents without a 100-yard rusher in five of the last six games, including the bowl game. The only outlier was the UCF game but UCF was an outlier for just about everyone last year. In the other games, opponents found yards hard to come by especially up the middle. Since Temple was returning the entire middle of its starting defense—tackles Michael Dodge, Dan Archibong and Freddy Booth-Lloyd—the thought was that the interior would be impenetrable.

The fact that it has not been with essentially the same players has been disconcerting. It’s one thing to allow one 100-yard rusher, like they did against Villanova, Buffalo, and even Maryland. It’s quite another to allow two guys to get through that wall.

Against BC,  Dillon finished with 28 carries for 161 yards and Glines totaled 23 carries for 120 yards.

This has to get fixed but, five games in, you have to wonder if there are enough band-aids in the Edberg-Olson Complex to stop this bleeding. Five games in is almost half the season.

The Temple offensive problems have been well-documented here (search for the name “Patenaude” in the upper right-hand corner box), but the defense is not without blame. This is a defense that ignited hopes for the future by holding high-powered Florida International—a significantly better team than Villanova—to just three points in the bowl game.

A lot can change in one game, even if that one game is separated by nine months.

Zero and one has led to two and three and two and three is not Temple football by any stretch of the imagination. Temple fans have gotten used to winning with 27 wins over last three years going into this season and no amount of “really proud of how our guys fought” and “a very physical game, our guys were up to it” comments are going to placate them now.

The name of that tune is a song from a long, long time ago when they suffered through 20-straight losing seasons before Al Golden came to town.

What was the name of it?

Maybe something like Send in the Clowns.

Thursday: Five Questions You’ll Never Hear Pravda Ask

Saturday: ECU Preview

Sunday: Game Analysis

Tuesday: 5 Unsung Coaches in FBS

Russo: Collins’ First Litmus Test As CEO

russocollins

By 7:30 p.m., on Thursday, we will find out if Geoff Collins is either the Miller Huggins of Temple football or the Gabe Kapler.


Patenaude has a documented
history of making mistakes
in sticking with quarterbacks
too long. He went with his boy,
Logan Marchi, for seven games
and that cost the Owls embarrassing
losses to teams like UConn

The big question Collins has to answer is if he will take charge and name Anthony Russo the starting quarterback.

The evidence would suggest he should. Frank Nutile, the starter at the beginning of the season, threw interceptions all over the place in losses to FCS Villanova and MAC Buffalo. He did not look confident nor show the kind of arm he did in five of his last six games last year. Maybe Nutile was injured all along. Maybe he just had a sore arm.

Whatever, Anthony Russo, his replacement, looked confident and sharp and managed a convincing win over a Big 10 school that beat probable Big 12 winner Texas.

No-brainer, right?

HugginsMiller

 

“Psst: Geoff. It’s me. Miller. Miller Huggins. Trust me: Start Russo”

 

Only if you let someone with no brains make the wrong decision. After the game, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said “Frankie should be OK for Tulsa” and that statement leads me to believe that this OC is leaning toward putting Nutile back into the saddle. Patenaude has a documented history of making mistakes in sticking with quarterbacks too long. He went with his boy, Logan Marchi, for seven games and that cost the Owls embarrassing losses to teams like UConn. Only the “luck” of an injury to Marchi reversed Temple’s season.

My guess is if Dave Patenaude was managing the New York Yankees back in 1925, Lou Gehrig would have never seen the field.

Huggins, then the Yanks’ baseball manager, passed his first litmus test as a manager.  If the Hugger were still alive, he would able to pass on some valuable Cliff Notes to Collins for his upcoming litmus test.  On June 2, 1925, Huggins told Gehrig that “(Wally) Pipp wasn’t doing too well” and Huggins thought a few days of rest would do him good.  Lou Gehrig took over the rest was history. Gehrig went on to play 2,632-straight games—the longest consecutive streak in baseball or any other sport until Cal Ripken Jr. came along.

Knowing Gabe Kapler, who probably will not make the Hall of Fame, this is what he would have said: “I have full confidence in Wally and, even though Lou did well, Wally is not going to lose his job because of an injury.” It’s probably the same deal with Patenaude and this is where Collins has to put his foot down.


… it’s not even a tie.
Russo was significantly
more impressive in his
game—against a foe that
would destroy both Buffalo
and Villanova—than Nutile
was in his two

In baseball, one of the axioms is “the tie goes to the runner” and, in college football, the tie in performance goes to the younger quarterback over the redshirt senior. Crazy enough,  but, in the case of Russo and Nutile, it’s not even a tie. Russo was significantly more impressive in his game—against a foe that would destroy both Buffalo and Villanova—than Nutile was in his two.

In college football, if it’s even close, the decision goes with the younger player.

In this case, as in Gehrig’s, the better one. Now is the time for Collins’ first litmus test as CEO of the Temple football operation.

In less than 48 hours, we will find out whether Geoff Collins is closer to Miller Huggins than he is to Gabe Kapler. We can only pray he is the real boss and doesn’t cede this authority to an incompetent subordinate.

If he does, he is a weak leader who won’t last long at Temple. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Thursday: Tulsa Preview

 

How We Went From AAC Champs To AAC Chumps In 2 Years …

sharga

OC Dave Patenaude ditching the “Temple TUFF” offense of full-time fullback (and, more importantly, Geoff Collins’ role in enabling that blunder) is the No. 1 reason why Temple went from consecutive 10-win seasons to a likely 10-loss season.

On the morning Geoff Collins was hired, while finally finding my keys, stashing my wallet away and picking up the cell phone, I looked down and it was ringing.

“Mike, what do you think?” a friend of mine said.

“Think about what?”

“Temple finally announced The Guy.”

“Who?”

chumps

SB Nation’s current (unfortunately correct) assessment of the Temple football program

“Geoff Collins.”

“The guy from Florida?”

“Yeah, isn’t that exciting? I think it’s a great hire.”

“I guess,” I said. “From some of the guys on the list, he’s probably the best one.”


These are guys who
not only do not
understand Temple
TUFF but include an
incredibly arrogant
offensive coordinator
who intentionally sabotaged
the very fullback-oriented
offense that gave Temple
20 wins in two seasons.
That was an offense and
a toughness Temple fans
came to know and love

The list included guys like K.C. Keeler, Danny Rocco, Neil Brown and Matt Canada. Keeler was a failed head coach at nearby Delaware and resurrected his career at Sam Houston State. The other guys were FCS head coaches or FBS coordinators.

Not the kind of list Dr. Pat Kraft should have doodled for an Owl program that had long stretches in the top 25 in consecutive regular seasons.

Underwhelming at best, disappointing at worst.

Given that backdrop, my “I guess” response was appropriate. If Collins had brought with him a national championship Florida coordinator and a Florida quarterback coach—like Steve Addazio did with DC Chuck Heater and QB coach Scot Loeffler—that’s one thing. It’s quite another when your top assistants are from Coastal Carolina and Kennesaw State.

By comparison, Collins has surrounded himself with incompetence and, because of it, has placed a once-great program in jeopardy of a historic free fall. Here’s the empirical evidence:

recentjawns

These are guys who not only do not understand Temple TUFF but include an incredibly arrogant offensive coordinator who intentionally sabotaged the very fullback-oriented offense that gave Temple 20 wins in two seasons. That was an offense and a toughness Temple fans came to know and love.  It was an offense that perfectly epitomized the toughness of the school, its students, the alumni, the city, the neighborhood, even the corner of the practice facility.  It was an offense that had a purpose, with the run setting up a play-action fake and every play seemingly setting up an explosive play in the passing game.  Run the ball successfully with an elite tailback behind an extra offensive lineman (fullback Rob Ritrovato) to bring the linebackers and safeties up to the line of scrimmage. At that point, the defense is susceptible to a deft ball fake that freezes the linebackers and safeties in their tracks and allows the quarterback to find open receivers everywhere. Now, nothing sets up anything else except a five-yard loss on a handoff. This scatterbrained offensive scheme, pardon my language, is complete bullshit that every single one of the 20,000 or so current remaining Temple fans rejects without question.

My feeling was then and still is now that Temple as a program after consecutive 10-win seasons and two appearances in the league championship game reached a point where it could and should have hired an accomplished head coach and did not need to roll the dice on another coordinator again.

evidence

Make no mistake, hiring a coordinator as a head coach is a crapshoot. Coordinator and head coach are two different jobs. Just because you are good at one does not translate being good at another.

The checker at your local grocery store might be the greatest bagger in the history of supermarkets but that doesn’t mean he would make a good store manager.

You could end up with a guy like Al Golden or Matt Rhule or a guy like UConn’s Bob Diaco.

All three had impeccable credentials as a coordinator—Diaco was FBS coordinator of the year as DC at Notre Dame—but there’s plenty of evidence where great coordinators fail as head coaches.

So here we are, not long removed from being a Top 25 (albeit regular season) staple to one coming off a loss to the local FCS program and a team from a lower conference (Buffalo) that the Owls beat 113-13 in their last three meetings with them.

How did we get here?

By rolling the dice on another coordinator when Temple football got to the point where it could attract an accomplished head coach. Owls rolled a seven and 11 on the last two coordinators. It was only a matter of time until their luck ran out.

That appears to be the case now.

If Collins can prove to be Temple TUFF enough to upgrade his coordinators, he has some hope for resuscitating both his career and this precious program, whatever he values the most.

If not, none of us have any hope for anything.

Friday: Fizzy Offers Some Constructive Advice (6 a.m. publishing time)

Saturday: Maryland Preview

Sunday: Game Analysis