Watching Temple coach Stan Drayton interact with former Owls has been an educational experience and the best lessons have been off the field.
Go to events like Cherry and White Day, some road trips, and season-ticket holder day and it’s evident that Drayton has an appreciation for past Temple players that many of the recent Temple coaches haven’t had.
“I went to a practice and he just came up to me and introduced himself and said how you doing,” said Matt McArdle, a starting safety for the 1978 team. “He asked me who I was. I’m a nobody and he makes you feel like the most important guy there. It really makes you feel good.”
If he makes those players feel good, you can imagine how he interacts with his current players. It seems to be working because Drayton has stopped the transfer portal bleeding. Under the past guy, the portal players leaving were starters. So far, only backups have left under Drayton and we’re crossing our fingers and toes and hoping that pattern continues.
Watch this video. What a terrific job narrated by the one and only John Facenda. Great comments from Arians and former Temple President and Chancellor Pete Liacouras (RIP). Also a good look at the greatest uniforms any college team ever wore.
Drayton has a special connection to the Bruce Arians’ players, who came a little after McArdle. At the Cherry and White tailgate, Drayton took the microphone from disc jockey Kevin Jones (a great offensive tackle for Arians) and said, “We’re going to get this thing back to the way you guys are used to seeing it.”
You could tell Drayton meant it.
Then he gave the mic back to Jones and Drayton watched his wife line-dancing to the tunes and had a big smile.
As one of the three white guys in that spot on that day, I stood back and watched in awe and took in the general positive vibe with my friends from many years.
He made a commitment to them and he intends to keep it. He made a commitment to all of Temple.
If it sounded familiar to those guys–in their 50s now–it should. At one time, a charismatic new Temple coach named Bruce Arians made the same kind of commitment to those guys when they were teens and a lot of folks think that Arians worked miracles here.
Although he had “only” two winning seasons, both were against top-10 schedules and, given that background, an argument can be made that Arians did just as good a job as Wayne Hardin. Neither coach has the facilities Drayton does now. In all fairness, Temple doesn’t have to play that murderous schedule now that it did then. In the last five years, the Temple schedules were ranked 97th, 73d, 86th, 91st and 99th in that order.
With Temple’s recruiting base–46 percent of the nation’s population within a six-hour drive of the stadium–it’s reasonable to set occasional G5 league championships and bowl games every season as a baseline goal.
It’s still a tough job but the expectations aren’t out of whack. Nobody is asking to get Temple back into the Sugar Bowl, which is what Pete Liacouras asked of Arians. Winning the new AAC is a much more reasonable goal to achieve than consistently winning seasons against top-10 schedules.
They always say you show the most improvement every year from Game One to Game Two. That goes for seasons as well. This past season was about changing the culture.
It’s all about the wins from now on and the number on the left has to be higher than the number on the right.
Monday: Greener and Bluer