Ed Foley: Gone, but Not Forgotten

In my lifetime which  (unfortunately) is getting to be sadly very long, there have been very few Temple sports lifers.

Sports Information Director Al Shrier, for one. Baseball coach Skip Wilson, for another. Basketball coach Harry Litwack. Fencing coach Dr. Nikki Franke. Athletic director Gavin White.

That’s maybe it.

Even the great John Chaney started somewhere else.

There have been no Temple football lifers and the last possible one, Ed Foley, has just left the Edberg-Olson building for a job at Baylor. Not even the great Wayne Hardin, who stayed here 13 years, could be considered a lifer.

You don’t get rid
of one of the best
special teams coaches
in the country who is
admired and respected
at Temple by everyone,
alumni, fans, current
and ex-players,
without some pushback

Foley did not start at Temple, but I certainly thought he would finish here. After being a 7-15 head coach at Fordham, he arrived at Temple with Al Golden and helped resuscitate a brain dead program by breathing some CPR into it.

On April Fool’s Day, 2017, he filmed the video at the top of this post with Kevin Copp and said: “I don’t want to really be anywhere else.” I believed him then. I believe him now.

As a recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach for Golden, he helped recruit three of the top five MAC classes and that led to Temple getting a promotion to the Big East (now the AAC). As special teams coach for Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins, he had the Owls’ consistently rated in the top 10 in blocked punts and field goals.

This guy loved Temple. He loved Philadelphia. He wasn’t my choice to be head coach either time because a 7-15 record in his previous head coaching job does not represent the credentials needed to do the same job at Temple. He was not a great head coach as a 14.5-point favorite in an interim capacity against Wake Forest in 2016. Against Duke, he again proved my point that you can be the best assistant coach in the history of the world and a terrible game-day head coach. In fact, he proved that at Fordham when his 7-15 was sandwiched between two of the most successful head coaches in that school’s history, Dave Clawson and Joe Moorhead.

Still, he did everything that was asked of him at Temple and more. I know for a fact that he turned down an assistant coaching job at Purdue a couple of years ago to stay at Temple and he probably turned down other offers I did not know about.


So that’s why it was so shocking to hear the news–first reported by Owlscoop.com–that Foley left to join Rhule in an off-the-field capacity at Baylor. He was already in an off-the-field capacity at Temple the last few months so it seemed odd to leave one job at a place he loved for another in a place he was unfamiliar with.

Maybe this quote in Saturday’s Marc Narducci story explained everything: “I don’t have an official title, but will be working with somebody I like and trust,” Foley said about Rhule.

Hmm. Translation: “I don’t like and trust Rod Carey.”

That seems to be abundantly clear. In the same story, Narducci said Carey was “unavailable for comment.” Unavailable for comment? Who is he, Howard Hughes?

Look, I LOVE the Rod Carey hire and I understand that he’s got to live and die with his own hires but this isn’t a good look. Foley has been able to get along with a divergent list of personalties, from Golden to Daz to Rhule to Collins and do it in a professional manner. You don’t get rid of one of the best special teams coaches in the country (face it, giving him a paper-pushing job is getting rid of him), a guy who is admired and respected at Temple by everyone, alumni, fans, current and ex-players, without some pushback. Especially when you bring in a guy from SMU whose special teams weren’t rated as highly as Foley’s. I have never run into a single person who said a negative word about Ed Foley the man. That is a truly rare individual.

Let’s hope Carey is able to explain this in a satisfactory manner sometime in the near future. Right now, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

In fact, it reeks.

Saturday: AAC Media Day

Monday: AAC Head-Scratchers


Winning Is the Only Thing


TU played like walk-ons, Duke like scholarship players

In a far-off, long-ago era of football, Vince Lombardi probably had the best quote in the history of the sport:

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

The great ex-Green Bay Packers’ head coach, if he were still alive, probably would have repeated his second most famous quote during Temple’s meltdown in a 56-27 loss to Duke yesterday:

“What the hell is going on out there?”


Good words, Vince, that perfectly described an Independence Bowl where the wheels came off for a 3.5-point favorite.

The quotes are reminders to me of a conversation the other day I had with an otherwise sane and rational Temple fan on my decision not to attend this bowl.

“C’mon, down, Mike,” he said, “bowls are about the pageantry and the band, not really about the game itself.”

“Huh? If I’m going down, I’m going down to win. I don’t give a whit (minus the W) about the pageantry. The only reason I go down is to see Temple win and there’s too much uncertainty and I would be way too pissed off if I spent that much money to see a loss.”

All that said, the night before the game I wrote this nugget:

“If Temple controls the clock behind Ryquell Armstead and Russo is effective in the short passing game, (Duke quarterback) Jones won’t be able to do too much damage.”

To me, there was no doubt Armstead would play. He was quoted as saying on Dec. 17 that he was excited to play “one last time with my brothers” and participated in every practice, several of them full contact. He was listed as “probable.” What did he do in the minutes before the game, trip over the Elvis Pressley statue? This news completely came out of the blue.


Both cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and Armstead did not play and interim head coach Ed Foley said those were for “medical reasons.” Photos, though, of the two showed them smiling (not grimacing) before the game, so who the hell knows? All I know is that Armstead was a warrior who wanted to come back into the ECU game (and did) despite a sprained ankle and he looked a helluva lot better walking around the sidelines yesterday than he did that day in October.

Jones, the Duke quarterback who is a far better prospect than Armstead or Ya-Sin, did play “one last game” with his brothers and that set the tone for the entire day.

Do I think Temple would have benefited from having Armstead in there to run the ball with a 27-14 lead in the second quarter? Hell yes. Do I think he would have scored the six touchdowns that he did against Houston? Hell no, but three would have done the job and 30 carries would have kept the ball away from Jones for 30 plays. Play-action would have aided quarterback Anthony Russo if he had Armstead to put the ball in the belly of and pull it out.

Do I think Ya-Sin would have batted down a couple of those Jones’ touchdown passes?

Hell yes.

Football is a team game and the next man should step up but Temple had no “next man” nearly as capable as those two. Maybe part of their decision had to do with coaches coming and going at Temple, but it still sucks.  Ed Foley is now 0-2. He talks a good game but I’d rather see actions than words. I always have.

This is what bowl season at Temple has come to, though. Maybe forever. Maybe just for the foreseeable future:  Decide to go down to see the band, go to pre-game events and walk around a small town in the middle of nowheresville but don’t be upset if Temple losses the game.

No thanks.

I feel most sorry for all of those Temple fans who paid their hard-earned money thinking they would see the full Temple team for one more time.

Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. My good Temple friend can go down for the pageantry and the sightseeing next year, but it will be a hard pass for me unless it’s an NY6 game and everyone from Temple from the head coach to the waterboy is 100 percent committed to winning.

Sunday: Fizzy on The Green Flu

Wednesday: Some New Year’s Resolutions for Manny Diaz

Friday: Infante Impact

Sunday: Comparing First Years

Tuesday: (1/9): Pressing Needs

Thursday (1/11): Impact of Bowl Loss on Future

Christmas: Best Gift Could Arrive Two Days Late

Love the way coach Foley cracks up Christina Applegate here. 🙂

If Christmas comes two days late for Temple in the form of some valuable hardware, the Owls will have to send text messages in the direction of Detroit.

They will have one guy to thank for it and it was a guy who came under a lot of criticism in this space over the last two years.

Geoff Collins.


Give credit where credit is (or will be) due this game week.

“When I got the (Temple) job, I saw a lot of guys coming and going,” Collins said at his inaugural Georgia Tech press conference. “The one thing I made sure to say the last day I talked to the team was that this wasn’t going to happen now. I told all of the (assistant coaches) to stay in Philadelphia and concentrate on winning the bowl game. I felt I owed the Temple kids that much.”

Collins can do Temple
another solid by taking
Dave Patenaude’s fate out
of Manny Diaz’s hands and
offering him a GT job. That
way, we can get back to
the Temple football all
Owl fans know and love–a
pro set with a heavy run
package with plenty of
play-action designed to
accentuate explosive downfield
plays in the passing game
and one that is perfectly
suited to Anthony Russo’s talents

Collins will be in Detroit for Georgia Tech game against Minnesota the night before in the Quick Lane Bowl. Mix in a trophy ceremony after that game and chances are that Collins is still in the stadium late  and to expect him to make flight connections for a 1:30 start in Shreveport the same day is a little unrealistic. He won’t be coaching GT–legendary Paul Johnson will finish up–but he will be there to press the flesh with Yellowjacket fans just like he did in Annapolis with Temple fans two years ago.

Wherever he is, though, the Owls will owe him some thanks because Matt Rhule put Ed Foley behind the eight ball for the 2016 Military Bowl against Wake Forest. While Wake head coach Dave Clawson had a complete group of well-paid Power 5 professionals  Temple really only had Ed Foley and offensive line coach Chris Wisenhan as constants. Pretty much the entire Rhule staff spent the time recruiting for Baylor and making a bare minimum of Temple practices. Foley had no choice but to assign grad assistants to run eight Temple defensive practices.


Our Oct. 19th poll

It showed in Temple, a 14.5-point favorite, falling behind, 31-6, at halftime. The offense made a gallant enough run, but the Owls fell, 34-26.

Temple’s only a four-point favorite this time and Foley said he’s learned a few things this time. That, and having a full complement of assistants should be enough. Diaz has the best special teams’ coach in the nation in Foley and, after Ed hoists the bowl trophy, he deserves to stay right here.

Collins can do Temple another solid by taking Dave Patenaude’s fate out of Manny Diaz’s hands and offering him a GT job. That way, we can get back to the Temple football all Owl fans know and love–a pro set with a heavy run package with plenty of play-action designed to accentuate explosive downfield plays in the passing game and one that is perfectly suited to Anthony Russo’s talents. If the nightmare scenario happens where Collins is gone and Patenaude stays, Russo remains a read-option quarterback and he’s no more of a read-option quarterback than Tom Brady is.

If Collins’ departure means Patenaude is gone and Diaz finds a pro set coordinator, that’s a net plus for the good guys who remain.

Wednesday: Bowl Preview

Friday: Bowl Analysis

Moving parts and the Temple football coaching search


The worst thing Pat Kraft could do for Temple is to bring in another team’s coordinator

More than any other recent hire, Temple athletic director Pat Kraft has a lot of moving parts to deal with in his search for a Temple football coach.

At times this week, he’s got to feel like one of those contestants in that Lincoln Financial Field shell game–find the Owl under the football helmet as the helmets jump all over the place.


The most important sentence is underlined

The moving parts existing now were not necessarily there the last time.

This team coming back is POTENTIALLY a great team, losing 19 seniors but only a handful of those seniors played key roles and, the ones who did, have backups that can easily replace them. (Just one example is losing receivers like Ventell Byrant and Brodrick Yancy but having upside guys like Branden Mack and Sean Ryan coming back.)


Nothing will continue this train moving forward than two things: 1) a guy who has been a head coach before and doesn’t have to learn to be a head coach on the job or 2) a guy who is familiar with the talent at hand and how to use it.

Is there a guy out there who possesses BOTH important qualities?

The time for bringing
in a coordinator who
has to learn how to
be another team’s
head coach on Temple’s
dime at the expense
of the Temple kids
should be over

Winning now should be the most important thing and, Kraft has to be thinking if he hires the Texas A&M coordinator, the Alabama coordinator or the Miami coordinator winning now becomes more difficult. At least that’s what I hope he is thinking.

So, the moving part, in that case, is that you don’t want to hire a guy who is new to the team and takes a year to figure out the relative merits of both the personnel and the ideal offensive and defensive schemes that fit, you risk taking a team with 10-12-win potential down to a six-win (or worse) season.

Basically, that’s what happened in Geoff Collins’ first year. His learning curve was too steep and Temple gave up a free year so a coach could learn both on our dime and our time how to be Georgia Tech’s head coach. The bottom line is Temple got one good year out of a two-year, $4 million investment.

Finding a guy who has been a head coach before and who at least as a rudimentary concept of the current Temple talent probably is the best way to go. Buffalo’s Lance Leipold, who studied Owl film the week before he was able to devise a way to beat them, seems to have all of the moving parts. You can’t go wrong hiring a guy like that.

Failing that, Ed Foley–who was a head coach before (albeit a losing one) and understands the Temple talent and how to use it–probably would be a safe choice. Fran Brown would be less safe, but more welcome in the clubhouse than some big-time team’s coordinator.  The time for bringing in a coordinator who has to learn how to be another team’s head coach on Temple’s dime at the expense of the Temple kids should be over.

This time, finding the guy who maximizes the talent currently on the team should be the way to go.

Otherwise, Temple football will be someone else’s Guinea pig and finding a pig under the helmet instead of an Owl won’t get you that Jumbotron Prize pack.

Thursday: How Manny Diaz Wins The Press Conference

Friday: Fizzy’s Thoughts on Temple’s Overall Situation

For TU fans, Love Should Be Better Second Time Around


A real ad paid for by Temple on the marquee in Times Square 4/26/18.

If you are a Temple fan who did not fall in love with Geoff Collins in his first year, there are indications that love is better the second time around.

OK, I’ll admit it.

I wasn’t crazy about his trust in an offensive coordinator who recruited a guy for Coastal Carolina and gave that guy about the longest rope to hang himself of any Temple quarterback in my 41-year history of following the Owls.

Seven games with six putrid and one acceptable performance was six games too much for my taste and it almost put the Owls out of bowl contention.

Forgetting that Nick Sharga was the best pure football player on the team—on both offense and defense–was another major strike against Collins.

That was then and this is now.

Mayhem might not have been coming a year ago, but there are at least inclinations that it could be here in five months.

Collins made a couple of impressive CEO moves in the offseason, promoting Andrew Thacker to DC to replace Taver Johnson was the first. We did not see the defensive Mayhem we had been promised until the 13th game of the season and Collins was not a happy camper. Presumably seeing the handwriting on the wall, Johnson went back to the Big 10 and accepted the same job he had a Purdue before taking the Temple DC job (defensive backs’ coach) at Ohio State. Collins also made Temple lifer Ed Foley the “assistant head coach in charge of offense” presumably as a check and balance on Patenaude.


Those aren’t the only signs Year Two Can be better than Year One.

All you have to do is look around the American Athletic Conference (which probably should have kept the Big East name, but that’s a story for another day).

Look at what all of the other second-year coaches did.

Navy’s brilliant Ken Niumatalolo went 8-5 with a loss in the Eagle Bank Bowl his first year and then went 10-4 with a win in the Texas Bowl his second year.

Memphis’ Mike Norvell went 8-5 his first year, then 10-3 the second.

SMU’s Chad Morris went 2-10, 5-7 and 7-6 before he accepted a Power 5 job with Arkansas.

UCF’s Scott Frost went 6-7 his first year and then 13-0 the second.

Those are significant improvements in numbers across the board.

The numbers suggest that the bottom line for Collins will produce much better than the seven wins he was able to post while feeling his way around in the first season. If it’s Rhule and Frost good, that’s an improvement of anywhere from 4-7 wins. Even if it’s Norvell good, that’s a nine-win season.

Just split the difference between, say, Rhule and Frost and every Temple fan—even the skeptical ones—will be sending Valentines Collins’ way come Feb. 14, 2019.

The only question where be where to send the card with the Whitman’s chocolates.

Monday: Facts Of Life In AAC

Blessed Are The Meek


They say politics and sports do not mix but, maybe in one small way, politics helped Temple football on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day.

Joe Tacopina, a postgrad kicker from Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, committed to Temple that night. Tacopina is a preferred walk-on but so was Aaron Boumerhi and indications are he has the same kind of leg that Boomer has and might be able to do the same thing: Earn a scholarship.

If not, though, he will not be hurting for lunch money as his dad is Meek Mill’s attorney and that’s where the mixing of politics and sports comes into play.

Tacopina’s future coach–either head or special teams–is a big fan of his dad’s client and, in recruiting, every little advantage helps. Hell, Foley is about the same age as Tacopina’s dad, also named Joe.

Funny, I don’t picture the 50-year-old Foley for having Mill on his playlist. When Foley was 17, the top songs on the top 40 chart were Footloose by Kenny Loggins and Jump by Van Halen.  Somehow that evolved into “So Fly” or “Funk or Die” and “I’ve Got The Juice.” (Although that last track should be played when Frank Nutile throws a touchdown pass.)

When Foley is not rocking the Temple gear, he rocks the free Meek Mill wear.

Tacopina chose Temple over a similar offer from Scott Frost’s Nebraska program. Surely, Tacopina would probably be on national TV more with the Huskers, but there are other advantages of a four-year career in Philadelphia. Temple has a great law school should son chose to follow in dad’s footsteps and there are plenty of internship opportunities that exist here that do not exist the cornfields of the Midwest.

Temple will need a kicker after Boomer’s gone and apparently this young man has a chance to be just as good as Boomer. For Temple fans, that’s the kind of insurance policy they have been looking for and now have.

If it mixing sports and politics helped, the end result is all that matters.

Wednesday: Succession Plan

Sunday: Done Deal Part II



The Big Cheeses

Sometimes you wish everyone was Ed Foley.

At least I do, not necessarily for what they do but for what they say.

The Temple football video guys (and gal Morgyn Siegfried) have an interesting series where every Friday they take a Temple football coach or staff member for a Cheese Steak.

Hence, Cheese  Steaks With Coach was born.

All of the videos can be watched here.

When I viewed the first video with head coach Geoff Collins, I did not know what answers he would give but was nonetheless interested in what he had to say.

Then I watched the second one with Foley and Ed said everything I wanted Collins to say about Temple and Philadelphia was perfectly articulated by Foley and you know Foley meant every word he said.

“I love it here,” Foley said. “This is where I want to be. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

So far, we’ve heard Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule say similar things that, in retrospect, could not have meant. We’re thinking mostly about Rhule’s specific comment about not wanting to coach anyone other than Temple’s players after he signed a contract last year in good faith at Temple and that no amount of millions thrown at him would get him to change his mind.

A year later, he changed his mind.

Collins nor any of his assistants have proclaimed their love of the place in their segments as much as Foley did in his. It might have been an oversight, but a lot of it is because this is home for Foley. A perfect coach for Temple would be a guy who loves Philadelphia as much as Foley has, a recruiter like Golden and a game day mastermind like Wayne Hardin was.

That perfect guy probably does not exist.

You can learn a lot about cheese steaks and more about the mindset of the current coaching staff.

They all love the food, but none gee Cheese whiz you kind of wish there was that same kind of enthusiasm about the place and the program Foley showed.

Monday: It’s About Time


Takeaways from Matt Rhule Press Conference

While winning has been, is and will always remain the No. 1 focus of any football program, we often forget the contributions of individuals to the program as a whole and that’s why Matt Rhule’s discussion of Ed Foley was the highlight of his most recent press conference.

There were just a handful of people who held Temple football together during some difficult times—Rhule himself being one in the transition to Steve Addazio—and Foley and Chuck Heater also played a big-time role in holding the program together just before the handoff to Rhule.

You need guys like that and that’s why recognizing Foley with the game ball on Saturday, two days after his father passed away, was a nice gesture. Also interesting was the fact that the entire Boston College football staff, led by Addazio, went to the funeral. Best wishes to coach Foley.

Other highlights from the press conference:

Those four fingers mean something at Temple. Often you see teams holding up the No. 4 at the start of the fourth quarter. Usually, it’s a meaningless gesture because everyone does it. Not at Temple because  it’s backed up by some pretty solid play in the fourth quarter this season. Must be a product of the conditioning program.

P.J. Not Happy. Even though he has a 64 percent completion rate and double the touchdowns to interceptions, P.J. Walker is unhappy with his QB play so far. That demonstrates the kind of standard P.J. wants to set at the position. We all know what P.J. can do. We have enough body of work. Still think he’s going to exceed his 20 TD passes of last year.

Derrick Thomas Could be the Breakout WR. According to Rhule, Thomas is close to making some explosive plays in the passing game. If he does, we can finally say, “Robbie Who?” Let’s hope he does. Here’s a preview of what is coming soon to a field near you (don’t worry about the stats, Bishop Maginn rarely passes the ball):

Sam Benjamin Punt Block Specialist. Looks like Benjamin has a knack to block punts, both in practice and in games. Temple hasn’t had one of those guys in a long, long time (a LB named Bruce Gordon also had that knack but that might have been 25 years ago). Now if we can only convince 7-foot basketball player Devonte Watson (he of the 97-inch wingspan and 41-inch vertical leap) to be the FG-block specialist, no one would ever be able to get a kick off against Temple.

Not Getting Over Navy. “And won’t for a long, long time,” Rhule said. That’s what I like to hear, a coach who stews over a loss as much (or more) than I do and I stew over every loss. Hopefully, coach Rhule talks to coach Wayne Hardin soon because he told both my and my friend, Fizzy Weinraub, an interesting and foolproof method to stop Navy’s triple option on Saturday.