Tribute to a Legend: Al Shrier

This space was supposed to be occupied today by a discussion about a new twist to the Temple single-digit tradition.

We’ll get to that some other day because that seems so insignificant now.

Al Shrier, the Temple Sports Information Director before I was born and the school’s SID through my education at Temple and much of my subsequent career in the sports writing business, has taken his famous briefcase to the other side.

Legend is a word thrown around far too much these days, but Al Shrier was a legend in the way the word was meant to be used.


“Bill, listen to me. Hire. Matt. Rhule.”

The news that Shrier passed away was incredibly sad for anyone at Temple and elsewhere who has ever had a positive interaction with him, in my case several hundred.

I wrote here several years ago that Skip Wilson, the long-time baseball coach, belongs on Temple’s Mount Rushmore with Wayne Hardin, John Chaney, Harry Litwack and Al Shrier.

People were somewhat taken aback that I put a SID on that mountain, but that’s where Shrier belonged. For a long time before Hardin or Chaney or even Wilson got there, Shrier was, if not the face, the mouthpiece of Temple sports.

Only Litwack, the basketball coach, pre-dated him.

Putting sports, the front porch of any university, out there in a positive light was Shrier’s job and he did it extraordinarily well.  He set the standard for all SIDs to follow. He was named the nation’s top SID four times and is a member of five Halls of Fame: the CoSIDA Hall of Fame:, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame, the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

That doesn’t even begin to tell his story because you would need a thick volume to do that.

As a former sports editor of the Temple News, Shrier had an especially soft spot for those who followed him in the same spot. Some of them included Ray Didinger, Phil Jasner, Dick Weiss, Joe Juliano, Craig Evans, Mike Ferretti and a host of accomplished journalists. Somewhere in there, I spent a stint on what was then a 7-day-a-week job to put out a daily from Monday through Friday that took up more of my time than my full course load.

Nobody helped me more than Al, who arranged interviews and trips for us with the teams. Later, as the Temple beat writer for Calkins Newspapers, Al made sure I had a seat on every football charter flight, often calling me before I called him.

As late as 2012, Shrier still had a hand in making decisions at Temple. He took then-athletic director Bill Bradshaw aside the second time Matt Rhule applied for the head football coaching job and said, “Bill, listen to me. Hire. Matt. Rhule.”

Bradshaw said it wasn’t until that moment he made the decision and he told that story at Matt Rhule’s opening press conference. Four years later, Temple was rewarded with its first-ever major football championship because of that decision.

Ironically, because he was reluctant to fly, Al only made the road games he could drive to but he still made sure the Temple story was told. Everywhere he went, he had his legendary briefcase. He never told anyone what he carried in that.

That was probably the first question St. Peter asked a few hours ago.

Thursday: Single-Digit Twists


The Cleanup Begins

Pat O’Connor (left) to Pat Kraft on Monday morning

My only living relative who cares so little about football she watched Star Trek reruns during the last Super Bowl,  listened to my Manny Diaz U-Turn story and said:

“What a fine mess that guy who hired him got Temple into. …”


“That pretty much sums it up,” I said. “It’s a nuclear-type cleanup now.”

Diaz was the Chernobyl of college football coaching hires.  If my relative thinks it’s a mess, I’m pretty sure Temple Board Chairman Pat O’Connor and President Dick Englert and a lot of the other trustees think it’s a mess, too.

That’s not to mention our players and fans. In addition, anybody who recruits against Temple now has fruit so low-hanging to pick from it has fallen on the ground.

Now the cleanup begins.

You are going to see a lot of Pat Kraft defenders on the internet who say: “He could not have seen this coming” and “he can’t be blamed for this” but if I saw it coming the guy who gets paid the big bucks to do the hiring should have, too. This is what we wrote in a caption the day after Diaz was hired:


This was written 20 days ago

The point is that this hire was Temple’s way of telling Miami “we’re going to train your next coach and, don’t worry, he will make all of the mistakes on our watch at our expense and, by the time we hand him off give him to you, he’ll be a polished guy.”

Diaz was the Chernobyl
of college football
coaching hires

Everything about this guy, from an entire career in warm-weather climates to the fact that his dad was the freaking Mayor of Miami screamed he was going back to Miami. One year, two years, seventeen days, what’s the difference? That should have all been factored into the Temple hire. If Temple is going to get a rental, get a ready-made one–a guy who can give this current very talented team a path to next year’s AAC title.

This is no time for a trainee.


This is the answer Geoff Collins gave in his Temple presser two years ago when asked if he was here to stay: “Every kid in there is going to know that I’m going to love them and there’s too much to do now in every moment to think about anything than what happens in the current moment.”

This is the answer Diaz gave at his presser: “All you can do is give them everything you have at the moment. You’ve got to work to improve every day, then go on to the next one.”

Anything sound familiar in those two comments?

Nothing about staying at Temple and building a winning legacy.  Those days might be over, but to achieve a championship now, the days of training rentals for other programs should be over. They should have been over three weeks ago.

Temple should go out and get a polished head coach who can give these fantastic returning players a championship in 2019. There’s a guy named Brown who can do it and it’s not Fran. It’s Neal. All he has done for Troy is do something Temple has never done–win 10 games three-straight years and beaten teams like LSU and Nebraska. Troy is paying him 1/3d of what Temple could and he would be worth every penny.

A 2019 AAC championship and an NY6 bowl would clean up a pretty big mess.

Thursday: Fizzy’s Corner

Saturday: The Slower Pace


With a Caveat, I’ll pick up the tab on the new stadium

Hopefully, the new Temple Stadium doesn't have a track around it like this one does. I want the fans right on top of the action.

Hopefully, the new Temple Stadium doesn’t have a track around it like this one does. I want the fans right on top of the action.

We’ve heard this all before about this time two years ago.

“It’s a done deal.”

Back then, the Temple football recruits and their parents (fathers, mostly) were saying that Temple to the Big East was a done deal. Almost one month to the day after signing day 2012, Temple inked a pact to join the Big East for all sports.

The original Temple Stadium at Pickering and Cheltenham Aves.

The original Temple Stadium at Pickering and Cheltenham Aves.

That lasted one year for football, while the basketball team never got to play in the Big East.

Now many of the new recruits and their parents (again, fathers mostly) are saying (privately) that they have been told a new stadium is a done deal. I will give Matt Rhule a little more credit than Steve Addazio here. He’s keeping a lid on Social Media and none of the recruits are saying publicly that they’ve been told a new stadium is a done deal. We’ve heard, though, that is what they’ve been told.

Temple will have a new football stadium and it will be sooner as well as later.

I don’t know if it’s true but, if I were a betting man, I’d bet there’s at least a 60 percent chance the stadium gets done before the Lincoln Financial Field contract expires before the start of the 2018 season.

Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie wants the Owls out and he basically wants to use a $521 million stadium for 10 games a season in addition to a concert or a soccer game or two. Since $60 million of that was state money, that doesn’t seem fair to Temple but that’s a story for another day.

The Geasey and old track field complex, rumored site for Temple Stadium

The Geasey and old track field complex, rumored site for Temple Stadium

I like playing at Lincoln Financial Field. I think there are significant advantages of playing at a $521 million palace located a 10-minute train ride from the main campus, with dedicated stops at each end. In fact, the university might consider all the alternatives and come to the conclusion that the ransom Lurie is demanding is more cost-effective than sinking $300 million into an on-campus facility likely to be delayed by legal challenges.

I like playing at Lincoln Financial Field.
I think there are significant advantages
to playing at a $521 million palace located
a 10-minute train ride from the main campus,
with dedicated stops at each end. In fact,
the university might consider the alternatives
and come to the conclusion that the ransom
Lurie is demanding is more cost-effective
than sinking $300 million into an on-campus
facility likely to be delayed by legal challenges

All that said, a new on-campus stadium could better simply because the regional rail which has a stop by the Edberg-Olson Practice Facility does not go to South Philadelphia. Any time you can open up more public transportation options to get to a Temple football game you increase the likelihood of a bigger crowd. The rumors are that the stadium will go on the present site of Geasey Field also using the former adjacent track “stadium” at 15th and Montgomery. When I went to Temple, Geasey’s claim to fame was that it was the “largest astroturf field in the World.” Temple had a stadium once–located eight miles away from the campus in Mt. Airy–and I always wondered why it was so far away. I asked one of our distinguished alums about that recently and he said the plan was to move the whole campus up there to Wyncote/Oreland/Erdenheim, lock stock and barrel, but they could not grab  sufficient land for the deal and those plans were scraped. Unfortunately, they had the stadium built before finding that out.

Not all that worried about tailgating since the games are on Saturdays when you can close off some student lots used for weekday classes just for those purposes.

New Tulane Stadium will open this fall.

New Tulane Stadium will open this fall.

I am worried about where the funding for this will come from. I don’t think the state or city or feds will contribute one dime, so it will have to come from Temple fans. Knowing Temple fans like I do, it won’t take them long to raise the money.

Unless you consider 346 years long.

I’ll tell you what: I’ll pick up the tab. Powerball on Wednesday night is $400 million. If I win, I’ll keep a measly $100 million and donate the balance to the stadium.  If 21-22-28-39-58 (06) pop up and nobody else uses those numbers, I will send Temple University a check the day after the presentation ceremony in Harrisburg. The university can consider this post a promissory note. All I want is for them to name it Temple Stadium in perpetuity, without any future sale of naming rights.

Done deal.

Temple finally signs a kicker

Click on the photo of Austin Jones to read more about his decision.

Click on the photo of Austin Jones to read more about his decision.

What many saw as a hole in the 2014 recruiting class was finally filled today.

Orlando (Fla.) kicker Austin Jones committed to Temple after making a visit to Temple over the weekend.

Jones is the No. 13-ranked kicker in the country. All over the United States last year, you saw true freshmen making big kicks in big games for Power 5 Conferences.

All Jones has to do in my mind is kick the damn ball through the end zone, something Temple had for four years with Brandon McManus (now with the New York Giants).


Nick Visco, who went 7 for 7 on extra points at SMU and nailed three of the five field goals he attempted in 2013, gives the Owls depth in the placekicking area. Neither Visco (who did not get the chance, by the way) nor Cooper boomed the ball through the end zone on kickoffs like McManus did as a manor of course. We haven’t heard the last of Nick Visco yet. He can be an accurate and reliable placekicker. Jones looks like he’s going to win the starting job and should be an accurate kicker, too, but his more important job is to boom the damn thing through the end zone since the Owls presumably will be scoring touchdowns, not field goals, this season.

McManus and Jones had similar success in high school with touchbacks. At North Penn, McManus had 58 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs in his senior season and Jones’ stats were almost identical to McManus in that critical area. Those stats pretty much held up during Brandon’s career at Temple, as he became the school’s all-time leading scorer.

During the last three of four games of the season, the Owls struggled to kick the ball off as far as the 10, giving opponents unacceptable starting field position.

Acceptable to them, unacceptable to Temple.

Hitler now can cross off kicker as one of his concerns about Matt Rhule:

Logic fails TU braintrust once again

When this young lady saw the Owls line up in a shotgun five yards back when they needed an inch, she flipped her wig. Can't blame her.

When this young person saw the Owls  line up in a shotgun five yards back when they needed an inch, the fan wigged out.   All the fans watching in Philly were screaming at the TV for the QB sneak, too. Can’t blame them.

Every fifth grade student learns this basic tenant in Geometry class: The shortest distance between two points in a straight line.

Either way, with Walker taking
the snap behind Friend,
you are giving it to either your
first- or second-best player following
either your first- or second-best player

Little Matty Rhule must have called in sick that day in 1985 because on Saturday, facing a fourth-and-inches from the Rutgers’ 15 with less than two minutes remaining, the Temple head football coach elected to run a play to the halfback, Kenny Harper, out of a shotgun formation instead of sneaking his 6-1 quarterback, P.J. Walker, straight ahead for the three or four inches needed for a first down.

Since Rutgers was out of time outs, had the Owls secured that first down, all that was left was three kneel downs for what would have been Temple’s first-ever AAC win. Instead, Rutgers stopped a slow developing play two yards into the backfield, got the ball back and quarterback Gary Nova executed an effective drive that resulted in a 23-20 win for the Scarlet Knights.

What made the curious play call all the more egregious was the fact that Temple has one of the best centers in the country in sophomore Kyle Friend, a 6-2, 305-pound behemoth who neutralized Notre Dame All-American Louis Nix III in the Owls’ opener. Arguably, Friend is the Owls’ best player. Before the season, Rhule said that the team gave out single-digit numbers to the nine “toughest” guys on the team but that the only reason Friend did not get No. 1 was because offensive linemen are not allowed to wear single digits. He might not be the best player only because of what has happened over the last few weeks, but certainly is the toughest.

Arguably, because the team’s best player over the last few weeks has turned out to be Walker, his true freshman quarterback. Either way, with Walker taking the snap over Friend, you are giving the ball to either your first- or second-best player followed through the hole by either your first- or second-best player.

For a head coach, failing geometry is one thing but failing logic is far worse.


No. 2-rated player in state commits to Owls

One spring day in 1980, Wayne Hardin was standing on Geasey Field commenting about his strong stable of running backs at Temple University.
“And then we have Jim Brown at tailback,” he said. “Jim Brown. I like that name.”
That’s the same way I felt this morning when I heard the news that Temple landed someone named Anthony Davis.

Anthony Davis’ verbal to TU was all over the Pittsburgh papers.

The Anthony Davis I remember was robbed of a  Heisman Trophy at USC as a running back.
The Anthony Davis Temple got this morning is a cornerback at Gateway High in the WPIAL who is the No. 2-rated player in Pennsylvania, as determined by
When I walk into a room for a purpose, I sometimes don’t remember what that purpose was but I have a pretty good long-term memory about Temple football recruiting and I don’t ever remember Temple landing a top 1-2 player from Pennsylvania.
Temple has landed top players from New Jersey, like Kevin Harvey (Paulsboro) and P.J. Walker (Elizabeth), but never someone this high from its own state.
Hardin was a rookie coach at Navy when Jim Brown, the greatest ever to have a ball in his hands, was snubbed for the Heisman Trophy.

No. 2-ranked in Pennsylvania.

Someone named Paul Hornung won it instead for a LOSING Notre Dame team. Brown’s omission will go down at the biggest Heisman snub ever.
Snubs apparently are a thing of the past for Temple, though. The recruits keep getting better.
The Owls currently have the No. 43-rated recruiting class in the country and Davis’ verbal can only move that ranking up a notch or two in the upcoming days.
Davis plays a position the Owls sorely need to upgrade.
No cornerback has ever won the Heisman Trophy, but there’s always a first for everything.
Who knows?
If the first Jim Brown and the first Anthony Davis can get snubbed for the Heisman, then maybe this Anthony   Davis can add one of those snubbed names to the trophy.

Dogbe, Nutile a couple of good additions

Frank Nutile’s junior highlights at Don Bosco.

Like the guy in Moneyball, I like stats.
One of the reasons the Oakland A’s were able to build a team from low-budget to competitive was that Billy Bean never overthought things.
He’d rather draft guys who put up good numbers in competitive leagues (heck, he preferred top-level college baseball players over high schoolers) and roll the dice that past history is the best predictor of future history.
I’ve always been one of those people when it comes to recruiting Temple football players.
That’s why I particularly like the recent recruiting additions of defensive end Michael Dogbe and quarterback Frank Nutile.

Dogbe was a sack machine playing for Parsippany Hills, a school that produced one-time Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi.
Nutile threw 14 touchdown passes playing for Don Bosco, a program consistently rated in the USA Today’s  national Top 10.
To me, the most important stats for a quarterback are wins and touchdown passes.
Fourteen touchdown passes as a junior and an 8-3 mark for a storied program is a pretty good base upon which to build senior stats.
Contrast that to former Temple quarterback Vaughn Charlton, who was handed a scholarship even though he had only nine touchdown passes as a senior playing in a very weak and now defunct Southern Chester County League. On the other hand, Adam DiMichele had 36 touchdown passes as a senior at Sto-Rox.
You know how those two careers turned out.
Dogbe had eight quarterback sacks, which means he was disrupting a lot of offensive game plans.
I’ll be watching Nutile and hope he pushes the touchdown totals over 20 this year.
Hopefully, Dogbe will be in double-digits in sacks.
Either way, I think past performance dictates future success for both guys at Temple.

Michael Dogbe’s highlight reel. Would have used “who let the dogs out” as the musical track.

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Smith: Temple’s Gateway to the West

Our first attempt at Adobe InDesign. (OK, we’ll get better.)

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis represents the city known as the Gateway to the West.
Move that about 300 miles to the Northeast and put it in Pittsburgh for Temple’s purposes.
Former Gateway head coach Terry Smith is proving to be one of Matt Rhule’s most productive hires so far.
Look at the list of the six “hard” verbals so far and it is peppered with Smith’s Pittsburgh-area ties.
Today is a good day to talk about those ties for two reasons: is reporting today that Lenny Williams, Sto-Rox’s outstanding dual-purpose quarterback, is about to commit to Temple and the Owls are coming off their first-ever camp held in the Pittsburgh area this weekend..
That would be great news because Williams would be the Owls’ most high-profile recruit out of the Pittsburgh area since Victor Lay signed out of Aliquippa. (Adam DiMichele, also from Sto-Rox, would have qualified but he was technically a Penn State recruit and a transfer from a Florida JC.)

The website’s list of hard Temple verbals.

As a senior at Sto-Rox, DiMichele threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 36 touchdown passes.
Thirty-six TD passes.
By comparison, recent Temple recruits Chester Stewart (DeMatha, Md.) and Vaughn Charlton (Avon Grove, Pa.) had 17 and nine touchdown passes during their senior years.
We’ll see what kind of numbers Lenny Williams puts up in the TD-throwing department his senior year, but I’m willing to bet it’ll be closer to 36 than 17.
Williams would be the fourth Temple verbal from the Pittsburgh area this season, joining the Gateway duo of Delvon Randall (safety) and interior linebacker Brenon Thrift and Renaissance Christian Academy athlete Troy Simons.
Smith, DiMichele and Rhule all were in Pittsburgh this weekend, spreading the Temple gospel.
Evidently, they found a few believers and that can only be good news for Temple fans going forward.

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