USF: The reason Temple hired Stan Drayton

A year ago in this space after a brutal 34-14 loss to USF, we vented.

We wrote an open letter to Temple University President Jason Wingard asking to fire Rod Carey.

Don’t know if this blog was the reason Temple did something Temple never does–eat $6 million of a $10 million contract–but losing to USF was the final straw. The Bulls ran all over Temple and it was painfully obvious Temple never hit the weight room in the offseason. On top of that, Carey’s strength coach turned out to be an alleged serial abuser of athletes and former player Iverson Clement’s video documenting the abuse made its way to athletic director Arthur Johnson’s office.

Don’t know where the money came from but that post got at least 30 eyeballs in oil-rich Kuwait so maybe we had something to do with the buyout. (I’ve checked our figures and that’s 15 more people from Kuwait on a given day who usually view this site. Maybe there’s a closet Temple football fan in the Kingdom. If so, God bless you, sir.)

Temple then hired Stan Drayton and the one thing Drayton has gotten right is the weight room. He hired two of the top strength guys away from Ohio State and, if anything, the Temple numbers in the weight room have doubled what they were under Carey.

Plus, the kids love the strength coaches.

On Saturday, it showed.

Temple was the team that pushed USF around and those numbers, finally, were reflected on the scoreboard in a 54-28 win over the Bulls at Lincoln Financial Field.

This was the Temple team we thought we’d see from the jump this year, a team capable of a 6-6 season on the way to an AAC championship run next year.

Better late than never.

Incredibly, USF entered the 2021 game as a 3.5-point favorite and won by 20. It also entered this game a 3.5-point favorite and lost by 26.

That’s a huge one-year turnaround and it’s the difference between Drayton and Carey.

There are a couple of ways to look at this game that can be put either in the half-full or have-empty category.

One, USF is so bad that this game can be viewed as an outlier. That’s the half-empty way to look at it.

Two, that Temple is improving so rapidly we can now expect a couple of more wins before the season ends. Maybe more. That’s the half-full way of looking at it.

Put us in the half-full category.

One, as bad as USF has been, Saturday was the first time it was blown out in a league game by at least 26 points. This has been a representative team against Cincinnati (a 28-24 loss), the storied Florida Gators (a 31-28 loss), 19th-ranked Tulane (a 45-31 loss) and Houston (a 42-27 loss).

Two, the Owls might have finally found their offense.

For two years, we’ve been scratching our heads wondering what two coaching staffs saw in Edward Saydee but we were told by those who watched the practices that Saydee has been by far the best practice running back for two separate staffs.

Finally, practice translated to a game in a 268-yard performance.

That took the rush off E.J. Warner and he shined with a couple of touchdown passes. Warner is a very good quarterback when he doesn’t have a hand in his face. Maybe Saydee’s emergence means he won’t for the rest of the season. We can only hope.

Three, the defense–save for one game–has been good all year and, even though the Owls gave up 28 points, that side of the ball can be counted on the rest of the way.

If now the offense joins the party, there is not a team remaining on the schedule Temple can’t beat. That could not have been envisioned even a couple of days ago.

Monday: The Reaction

Difference between USF and Temple: Commitment

The proposed new stadium at USF was unveiled to the press last month .

All you have to do to figure out the difference between USF and Temple football is look at the national perception.

USF head coach Jeff Scott was hired a full year and a month AFTER Rod Carey yet Scott is listed as No. 1 on the coaches hot seat site and Carey is nowhere to be found.

The perception there, at least from those who run that site is this: Scott’s seat is warm as hell because USF won’t tolerate a poor season coming off a one-win fall and Temple will.

There’s a lot to that because it’s true.

USF has fired two coaches since Al Golden performed CPR on Temple football and Temple has fired zero coaches. Sure, one of the reasons was that it was successful enough not to need that option, but The Rod Carey Error will provide the first real test to Temple’s commitment for fielding a winning team.

If the team loses to USF, it will be magnified.

Proposed site of new USF stadium. Neighbors live across the street and to the right.

USF displayed its commitment to football last month when the President announced plans to build a new stadium on campus while Temple, having already approved the funding for its own stadium three years ago, allowed no more than 20 or so neighbors to shut down the project.

Temple appears to have thrown up its hands and given up without even trying alternative methods like moving the site from 15th Street or marketing the new stadium the ” North Philly Tribute Center” and telling the community the stadium will be for them 359 days and the university for just six. Temple already has a large area for athletics at Broad and Master and has met no community opposition there. Maybe moving that to 15th and Norris and putting a stadium closer to Center City could satisfy all involved.

South Florida, like Temple, also has on-campus neighbors who objected to getting a stadium done. USF believes the stadium is the greater good and, once built, the community will realize it as well. Unlike USF, Temple allowed a few loud voices to table the project. USF’s interim president said “we’re going to get this done.” Temple’s new president, Dr. Jason Wingard, deflected a similar question when he said the school was committed to its deal with Lincoln Financial Field.

USF plays in a pro stadium, too, but realizes even a crowd of 20 or 30K rattling around a 70K-seat stadium looks horrible. It looks closer to 10 people than 70,000 and, if the perception is your product is not successful, that’s even more important than whether it actually is. USF has come to that conclusion. At one time Temple did, too. That ship has apparently sailed.

The latest evidence of national perception came on Sunday night when the books set USF as a 3.5-point favorite. That despite the fact that USF entered its game on Saturday with only one touchdown pass on the season and Temple, coming into its game at Cincinnati, had the No. 1 pass defense in the country. (A misleading stat because Temple plays a three-man front and often drops eight into coverage, allowing opposing running games to gouge the Owls on the ground.)

What can be done to turn around that perception?

The only thing that solves anything in big-time college sports: Winning. If Temple isn’t favored to beat the only team it defeated in a one-win season last year, just when will it happen?

Not this year. At least not unless Temple rips off a winning streak starting now.

Temple has to beat USF to begin to change minds, then come back and complete the Florida sweep against UCF at Lincoln Financial Field. It should not be that hard.

The fact that few nationally believe it will happen is in and of itself a big problem for Temple.

Friday: USF Preview

Bernard Who?

Villanova (and Rutgers and South Florida, among others) have never seen anything like Montel Harris.

What can be said about Montel Harris that hasn’t already been said?
We all know the facts, that Harris was the second-leading rusher in the HISTORY of the ACC, that he was LAST YEAR’S runaway choice for Preseason Player of the Year in that same conference, that he once ran for 252 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-28 win over North Carolina State and had 22 games of over 100 yards against ACC teams such as Florida State, Virginia Tech and Miami.
Much bigger-time teams than even the ones he will be facing in the Big East.

David Wilson and Luke Kuechly were first-round NFL picks.
Danny O’Brien is the starting QB at Wisconsin. Few considered
them nearly as good as Montel Harris in the ACC media poll.

All I was interested in finding out Tuesday during a media sitdown with the new Temple running back (and quite possibly this year’s Big East Player of the Year) was finding out if Montel Harris was 100 percent because, if he is, he will make people forget Bernard Pierce.
No bigger Bernard Pierce fan than me but, as good as Pierce was (and still is), a healthy Harris is better.
There’s a lot of empirical evidence out there to suggest that. Harris had more yards in a much higher level of football playing roughly the same number of games as Pierce did.
Harris says he’s 100 percent. I believe him.
If that holds up, people might be saying Bernard Who if not by September, then certainly by October.
He says he’s fine and so does head coach Steve Addazio and the cuts he made on the field on Tuesday said so the loudest.
“I’m feeling 100 percent,” Harris said. “The knee is good. It was the left knee, but most people aren’t able to tell.”
When I first saw the many video highlights of Harris, his running style reminded me a lot of not Pierce, but Matt Brown, the other half of Temple’s 1-2 running punch. Harris is bigger and heavier. Brown might be a tad faster. Both are tough and both can make runners miss and make what Addazio calls “explosive plays” downfield. Throw in a great running quarterback like Chris Coyer and a spread offense that opens the field up and a few bulbs could break this year on the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard.
“I’m a balanced runner able to make things happen in the open field but also able to break tackles,” Harris said.
Even though Harris ran into some trouble at Boston College, I think he will be a solid citizen at Temple.
“I’m just here to say I’m here to play football and I’m a great football player and I have great character off the field,” Harris said.
Everyone at the E-O has known that for the past month or so.
In eight days, the seamless transition from BP to MH could become just an unquestioned upgrade to Temple’s fans.