Temple Football: A rare chance to get better now

Temple under Chuck Heater.

In perhaps the strangest Temple football spring schedule yet, the Owls practiced for a couple of days and then have a long break before they get together next week.

In between, there is some scheduled downtime.

Logically, there’s no chance for the Owls to get better in the next few days because everything is on pause.

In reality, the Owls can get 10,000 percent better.

Hell, Chuck is 70 now and maybe Stan already hired him and set him up in that nice house across the street. We can only hope.

All Stan Drayton needs to do is pick up the phone and call Chuck Heater.

That’s because defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot left to become linebackers coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.

While there is much gnashing of teeth with that departure, the numbers indicate otherwise.

In the one year Eliot was DC with the Temple Owls, they gave up 29.2 points per game.

Is that the work of a great or even good DC to you?

I must be a hard marker because that’s an F to me.

You know who gets an A in the same job at Temple?

Chuck Heater.

Marshall under Chuck Heater

To me, the sign of a great defensive coordinator is shutting out the bad guys.

Heater didn’t do that just once but twice in back-to-back games in the same season.

The last Temple DC to shut out an opponent twice?

Chuck Heater.

Temple did shut out Stony Brook under Phil Snow in 2016 but I will take Heater’s back-to-back shutouts over Buffalo and Ball State over that accomplishment any two days of the week.

Fortunately for Temple, Heater is sitting by his phone and waiting for a call from Stan Drayton.

He worked most recently at Maryland, Marshall and Colorado State but due to coaching changes at those places is out of a job.

The culprits in all of those cases were the head coaches, not the defensive ones.

While Eliot was known for “simulated pressures” Heater is known for “real pressures.”

Colorado State under Chuck Heater.

Colorado State, under Heater, led the nation in defensive pressures as recently as the 2020 season. He has also worked with Temple defensive line coach Antoine Smith there and would be a great fit at Temple again.

While here, Heater biked from his Spring Garden home to 10th and Diamond every day and told the interviewer from the Philadelphia Inquirer that he loved both Philadelphia and Temple.

The kids loved him.

You know who else loves him?

Urban Meyer, who was with Heater from the beginning and that loyalty led to Heater being the DC for Meyer’s Florida National championship team.

At Temple, Heater held Maryland to only 7 points–a meaningless fourth-quarter garbage time touchdown–in a 38-7 win.

When Temple beat Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl, it was the Temple players giving DC Heater the Gator-Aid bath, not Steve Addazio, the head coach.

National champion Florida under Chuck Heater.

As good as that job was, I thought Heater’s best job was the next year at UConn when he led the defense to a 17-14 upset win in overtime against 5 1/2-point favorite UConn.

Waiting for the kids to leave Rentschler Field for the Temple busses, I stood next to Chuck at the busses and told him I thought that was a masterful game plan on defense.

“That wasn’t me, Mike,” Chuck said “That was the boys.”

That’s what Heater called his players: The boys. It was never about him. It was always about them.

He would not need to be shown directions to Temple. Stan Drayton shouldn’t need to call anyone other than Antoine Smith to get Heater’s number. Or Steve Addazio. Or any Temple player who played for Chuck.

For all the hard work Temple does before Cherry and White Day, hiring Heater tomorrow probably makes this team twice as good today than it was yesterday.

Monday: Sean Desai

Friday; That’s a Long Drive

Bonus coverage (no truth to the rumor that is AOD running out into the end zone):

Fortunately, Hooter has gotten better-looking with age.

Drayton seems to have won half the battle

Chuck Heater was so popular with Temple players he received this post-game Gatoraid shower after leading the Owls to their first bowl win in 30 years.

There are plenty of battles ahead for a team that finished 1-6 and 3-9 in consecutive shocking seasons, but new Temple football coach Stan Drayton seems to have won half the battle in just two short weeks.

He applied the tourniquet and seems to have stopped the transfer portal bleeding. No significant players have announced they are leaving and that’s something that couldn’t be said in this same two-week period a year ago.

That’s something that cannot be minimized because former head coach Rod Carey took a figurative knife to work every day and there was more bleeding at the E-O than in the movie Psycho.

The players didn’t like him, and their dislike for him never seemed to bother Carey. In the era of the transfer portal, that kind of indifference is a death sentence.

Not surprising that you needed a bucket to clean up all of the bleeding of the players who went out the door.

The other half of the battle is assembling a good staff. Without mentioning names, there is some discussion of bringing in a guy from Kansas and Colorado who allowed more than 30 ppgs in high-profile DC jobs.

Drayton promised at his opening-day press conference to attempt to bring in staff members with ties to Temple and Philadelphia but, so far, the new DL coach has a tie to Lafayette and a recent job at Colorado State. Bringing in Chuck Heater as DC would seem to me to be a no-brainer since Heater was the new CSU guy’s boss AND was the last DC at Temple to post back-to-back shutouts (2011). Math was never my best subject, but I’ll take a guy who allowed zero points in consecutive games AT TEMPLE over one who averaged 30ppg any day of the week and Heater is available, seemed to enjoy his time at Temple (biking to practice every day from Center City) and understands Temple TUFF as well as any outsider.

Chuck Heater went over to Marshall and had success after leaving Temple

The staff evaluation will have to wait until Drayton’s full Gang of 10 on-field assistants are assembled, but the early returns in that area are not good.

Most of the staff remains to be picked so, if Drayton has as good a second half this week as the Eagles had yesterday, everybody in “Temple Philadelphia” and not “Lafayette Philadelphia” will be happy.

Drayton’s first message to the team indicated a good sense of evaluating the film and this quote was particularly telling:

“The little bit of film that I did see, I saw some quit show up,” Drayton said.  “And we talked about what greatness is.  Greatness has no quit in it at all.  And that showed up.  And that bothers me.  However, if as a football team we can face that as a reality, accept it for what it is, then I know we can move forward.”

That’s something just about every Temple fan noticed post the Memphis game and even some players alluded to it.

It appears he will be moving forward with the bulk of this year’s roster buying in and the first step toward program health is stopping that bleeding and maybe as much as half the battle. Don’t know if choosing assistants can be called the other half, but it’s at least the first quarter.

Friday: Areas of Need

Current Staff? Meh ….


This is the resume Nick Rapone could have brought to Temple.

Everything in life is a trade-off and, so it is with Temple football coaching staffs as this story illustrates.

“My son said, ‘Dad, it’s like Night and Day between this staff and Al Golden’s staff,’ “ John Palumbo’s father told me during Steve Addazio’s first Cherry and White Day. “He said, Dad, these guys are all National Championship coaches. They know what they are doing.”


Palumbo knew what he was talking about. He started at center for both Golden’s last team and Addazio’s first team. Daz took Golden’s talent and made it a bowl-winning team.

Golden was the great CEO-type, someone with a binder full of recruiting contacts up and down the East Coast and nobody was more well-equipped to stock the Temple roster with the talent it needed to succeed—if not win—the MAC.

Addazio was the ambitious successor, a guy who supposedly loved the macaroni and South Philly Italian food so much that he would stay here 10 years. We later found out what he was, a bull-bleeper who could sell snowballs to the Eskimos. In that sense, Daz bought an all-star staff with him to Philadelphia—the defensive coordinator at Florida, Chuck Heater, and Scot Loeffler, a damn good offensive coordinator.


They were a good sight better than Mark D’Onofrio and Matt Rhule, Golden’s last coordinators but part of the price of bringing that kind of talent to Philadelphia was that Daz probably promised that he would take them along to a P5 stop in a year or two.

When the Owls hired Geoff Collins from Florida, I had a feeling it would be more like a Daz hire than a Golden or Rhule hire in that he’d poach the Florida staff of a couple of top position coaches with a promise of making them coordinators here. No such luck. The only person he poached from the Gators was the equipment manager.

It wasn’t what I expected.

You get what you pay for. Two days after he was hired, Steve Addazio wooed his buddy, then Florida national championship co-defensive coordinator (really, THE guy according to Urban Meyer), Chuck Heater. Temple paid Mark D’Onofrio $200,000 to be DC in the 2010 season. Daz convinced Lewis Katz, his guy, to kick in an extra $200K to secure the services of Heater. Katz is gone and probably so are the days of Temple outbidding P5 teams for any assistant football coach’s services. Heater loved it here, biked every day from Center City to 10th and Diamond and had a good relationship with many Temple fans, big donors and small.

Now, we have an offensive coordinator from Coastal Carolina, a defensive coordinator from Kennesaw State and position coaches from West Alabama and Georgia State. It’s particularly sad in that Nick Rapone, a former FCS defensive coordinator of the year who spent the last few years with Bruce Arians with the Arizona Cardinals, expressed an interest in the DC job after Taver Johnson left. So did Temple legend Kevin Ross, who was the DB coach with the NFL team.

Instead of NFL guys, we have Kennesaw State and West Alabama guys. Not the kind of resumes that will make sons of the current Owls tell their fathers that the Rhule and Phil Snow did not know what they were doing.

Maybe the trade-off is a little more loyalty for fewer wins. Give me consistent wins on Saturday or any day of the week against mediocre 7-6 records and loyalty every year of the decade. I know I would have them with guys like Scot Loeffler, Chuck Heater, Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross.

These small school guys?

Not so much.

Friday: Developmental Program?


2018 P5 Opponents: Maryland and Boston College


As Central Florida found out this season, nothing makes a statement for a Group of Five program than a win or two over Power 5 teams.

The first statement—a 38-10 win on the road over a Maryland team which beat Texas (which beat USC)—was impressive enough, but beating an Auburn team that beat the both Alabama and Georgia took it to another level.

Not enough to finish in the top four, but a statement on the way to an unbeaten season nonetheless.

Temple, in its own way, has a path to such a statement by wins against the aforementioned Maryland team and Steve Addazio’s Boston College squad.

Hard, but doable.


That’s what sets the 2018 season apart from the 2017.

The Owls play both Maryland and Boston College and, with those wins and a win over a Power 5 team in a bowl game, would restore a brand closer to what Matt Rhule left after a pair of 10-win seasons than the hit that took a slight hit with a 7-6 one in Geoff Collins’ first season.

If the Owls will be, as Collins has said, a “ridiculous” team next year, there is no reason to believe they can’t pull those two wins off. I assume Collins means ridiculously good because he talks the kids’ lingo.  Call me skeptical about the Owls replacing two great wide receivers, two good edge rushers and an 3/4s of a defensive secondary. Losing the “best fullback in the country” probably not will be as devastating as I thought it was going to be four months ago because the Owls’ brain trust did not use him over the last two months.

Maryland made it a lot harder by hiring former Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater. Taver Johnson, the Owls’ current coordinator, doesn’t have a resume approaching Heater’s—the last Temple DC to post consecutive shutouts and a guy who Urban Meyer called a “Miracle Worker” leading the defense of his 2010 Florida Gator national championship team.

Boston College, despite a solid season last year, could be a relatively easier nut to crack simply because of the matchups. BC lost to a Syracuse team that lost to Middle Tennessee State, so anything is possible. Any Temple fan will tell you that Addazio’s affinity for the run game borders on obsession and Temple, if anything, should have a good run-stopping defense next  year and be vulnerable to the pass. If Daz follows the pattern he set at Temple—run, run, sack, punt—the Owls should be in good shape. Still, Boston College won five of its last six games to earn a Pinstripe Bowl bid.

So there are signs that this is probably not the Daz we know and hate.

Either way, both Maryland and BC add some spice to a schedule that has been peppered with too many Stony Brooks and Villanovas over the last couple of years.

Scheduling P5 teams is one thing but, if you are going to schedule them, you might as well follow Central Florida’s lead and go ahead and beat them.

Wednesday: Commitment Issues

Friday: Housecleaning Questions

Five Bowl Games TU Fans Should Watch

Hooter and Stella will be kicking back on the couch watching these five games and wishing the football Owls get their shot to do the same in a year.

Hooter and Stella will be kicking back on the couch watching these five games and wishing the football Owls get their shot to go to a bowl game in a year.

If there is one thing the bowl season best illustrates, it’s the schism between the haves and the have-nots in college football.

For the second year in a row, fan of the Temple Owls are on the outside of the bowl window with their noses pressed against it longing for the not-so-distant days when they were part of the haves. The program had a nice little run that saw the team bowl eligible for three-straight years, including the first bowl win in over 30 years, but the Owls have missed badly over the last two years. There had been some hope that first-year head coach Matt Rhule would improve the team from a four-win season in 2012 to a six-win season in 2013, but things imploded badly with embarrassing losses to Fordham and Idaho.

There is some good news, though, in that quarterback P.J. Walker was named to the freshman All-American team and that the team returns most of the players who gave AAC champion Central Florida  one of its toughest league tests for the season. In linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the team has a junior-to-be linebacker who led the country in tackles and will no doubt be on the Dick Butkus Award Watch List as the top player at his position next year.

Plus, Rhule is in the final stages of securing what many consider the best recruiting class in school history. Whether the returning players and the recruits put the Owls over the top remains to be seen and so are five bowl games that should hold a particular appeal for their fans. Of course, Steve Addazio turned a 2-10 team into a 7-5 team  and you-know-who turned a 4-7 team into a 2-10 team. For those interested, Daz’s game vs. Arizona is 12:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Does Daz go 2-10 with this Temple team? Hell no. His relentless commitment to the run would have avoiding the uni the embarrassment of Fordham and Idaho.  I still think Rhule is a better long-term option for the program than Daz, particularly if he finds the gonads to fire Phil Snow in the next few weeks. I don’t think he has the gonads, though.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5. Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh

In the Little Caesar Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Thursday night, these are two old conference rivals of Temple’s and Owl fans can see what the Falcons have done with less talent and better coaching. According to one national recruiting website, Scout.com, Bowling Green’s 2010 recruiting class was ranked No. 85 in the country, while Temple’s was ranked No. 75 in the same year. Also, Temple had the No. 55-ranked recruiting class in 2012, well ahead of BGSU’s No. 82-ranked class the same year. The only year the Falcons out -recruited Temple was 2011, when their class ranked No. 84 to TU’s No. 95. Pitt was an old Big East foe of Temple.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

4. Northern Illinois vs. Utah State

In the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego also on Thursday night, the Owls get to see what another former conference foe has done with “lesser” rated talent as Temple out recruited NIU in two of the three years from 2010 through 2012. The only time a Temple class was rated behind NIU was in 2011, when the Huskies pulled a No. 90 nationally to Temple’s No. 95. The Huskies have a program-changer in Jordan Lynch, while the Owls feel they also have a program-changer in freshman All-American quarterback P.J. Walker.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

3. Marshall vs. Maryland

In the Military Bowl Friday, Owl fans get to see former defensive coordinator Chuck Heater lead the rejuvenated defense against a Maryland team that was on Temple’s schedule in both 2011 and 2012. Heater had the 2011 Owls ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense and the Owls had consecutive shutouts that season. He now has Marshall ranked No. 33 in the nation in scoring defense. His replacement at Temple, Phil Snow, has the Owls ranked No. 82 in the country in scoring defense. The last time Heater faced a Randy Edsall coached-team on Maryland soil, he held the Terrapins to seven points in a 38-7 win.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2. Louisville vs. Miami (Fla.)

On Saturday in the Russell Athletic Bowl, The Cardinals of the AAC get to go against a couple of familiar faces in Miami head coach Al Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. Both held the same positions at Temple as recently as 2010. No doubt Owl fans will be rooting for Golden, who brought respect to the Temple program. D’Onofrio was a runner up for the Temple job that went to Rhule a year ago.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

1. Vanderbilt vs. Houston

On Jan. 4 in the Compass Bowl, a game holding the most interest for Temple fans is next year’s opening opponent, the Commodores, who will be playing Owl conference foe Houston. Temple dropped a 22-13 game to the Cougars earlier this year and this game will provide a barometer for how far the Owls must improve to compete against an upper-tier SEC team. Vandy head coach James Franklin is from the Philadelphia area, having played quarterback for suburban powerhouse Neshaminy High School in 1989.