Withers: The New Normal in College Football

Along with the NLI and the transfer portal, college football has another new normal.

Coaches sign for jobs at one school, turning around a couple of months later and signing at another.

It’s called “The Manny Diaz Syndrome.”

Before Diaz signed to be the head coach for 18 days at Temple and left for the same job at Miami it was unheard of for a coach to sign a contract at one school, break that contract, and seemingly minutes later leave for the same job at another school.

“I never wanted to be THAT guy,” Diaz said when he signed at Miami and profusely thanked Temple.

Well, Manny, you were that guy and now plenty of guys followed your lead.

Even Steve Addazio had more ethics than that. Ten days after getting the Temple job, he was offered the job at the biggest school in his home state, UCONN, and said thanks but no thanks I gave my word to Temple and will keep it.

Now everyone breaks their word, both players and coaches.

Not many at the head coaching level, but plenty at the assistant level and–according to football scoop–Everett Withers, 59, is the latest big-time assistant to do that and revert to Temple.

The last time we saw Withers leading Temple was when Stan Drayton got sick and missed a game. Whether it was his fault or offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf’s fault, the Owls had a horrific call on first-and-goal at the Navy 5, and that led to an overtime defeat in a game they should have won. First-and-goal at the 5 and the Owls hand off on dive that had not worked for the previous 59 minutes of the game.

They got what they deserved, a game-tying field goal and not a game-winning touchdown.

Have Edward Saydee fake that dive, complete with the leap ahead, to freeze the defense and roll E.J. Warner right (away from the pressure), and have him throwback to the tight end for six and that’s a completely indefensible play. Temple wins, the kids sing “T for Temple U” or “Dancing on My Own” all the way home on the bus ride.

Drayton gets out of bed like Lazarus and is immediately feeling better.

Langsdorf should have known that.

So should have the CEO in that game.

Withers was the CEO that day while Drayton watched at home on TV.

Water under the bridge.

The new normal also includes a head coach grabbing for his binky–the comfort zone–rather than going outside the box to get the best person for the job.

Withers left Temple (where he was Chief of Staff) to become “assistant head coach and passing game coordinator” at FAU.

Now he’s back at Temple as DC.

Do I believe Withers is the best person to be the Temple DC?

Hell no.

This is a guy whose last DC job was at FIU in 2021.

What did they do then?

Allow 54 points to Texas Tech, 58 to FAU, 45 to Charlotte, 47 to Old Dominion 50 to MTSU, and 49 to North Texas.

Yeah, that’s just the kind of DC I want at Temple.

If I was doing the hiring, I’d jump out of the group of guys I’ve known and worked with and hire someone who was a DC who shut out an offense somewhere–anywhere–before.

I did find a shutout in Withers’ past and it came all the way back in 1995 when his Louisville defense shut out Maryland, 31-0.

By comparison, 16 years later, Chuck Heater, now 70, shut out Buffalo and Ball State in consecutive games for Temple.

Since then, though, modern offenses have seemed to pass Withers by even though Heater has caught up to them in every job he had.

Yet Drayton likes the guy and he’s going to be Temple’s DC. I love Drayton the man but I hate this decision. Go out and hire the best guy not a guy you like and are comfortable working with.

That didn’t happen and we have to hope Temple doesn’t pay the price. Hope doesn’t get me to a bowl game, though.

Monday: Almost Dying for Temple football


Temple’s OT loss at Navy came down to one play

Slice it and dice it any way you want, but Temple’s 27-20 overtime loss to Navy came down to one play of one series.

Getting a first-and-goal at the 5 in the last minute of regulation, the logical move for a quarterback who has been hurried the entire day and an offense that can’t get yards on the ground is to roll the quarterback out and try to find a moving receiver target in the end zone.

What did Temple do instead?

Run straight into the teeth of the Navy defense for one yard to set up a second and goal at the 4. A lousy, lousy first down play call considering the personnel available. It wasn’t the only lousy play call. You have a former high school quarterback on your roster (Trey Blair) and you call a reverse pass for someone who never threw a pass in a game before (Amad Anderson)? Lousy call. How about a halfback pass using Blair instead? You have a proven pass-catching tight end (David Martin-Robinson) and you call a key third-down pass to the other tight end who caught only one ball all year? Don’t be surprised when he drops it. Lousy call. Incredibly bad roster awareness. Good coaches scheme to the individual talents of their players and it’s painfully obvious Temple doesn’t have enough good coaches or, worse, they don’t know what their players are capable of doing.

Now back to the most important play call of the day. Not scoring a touchdown on first-and-goal at the 5 is letting down every single kid on the team.

Talk all you want about the subsequent plays in the series, but a fake to the running back on the FIRST play, not the second one, and rolling the pocket could have bought quarterback E.J. Warner the time he needed to find someone–anyone–open in the end zone. No matter how many backup offensive linemen you might have on the field, any self-respecting offensive coordinator has to find a play to scheme a touchdown on a first-and-goal at the 5. Even if he doesn’t find someone, getting Navy on a hold in the end zone is a better outcome than a 1-yard gain up the middle.

Run on first down and the defense assumes that you’ve got to pass on the next two and adjusts the defense to suit that reality.

Navy takes the field

The difference there is the difference between winning and losing. Or Temple being up by 24-20 against a triple-option team that had to to the length of the field for the game-winner with a backup quarterback.

Chalk it up as another lesson for an offensive coaching staff that really should have the experience under their belts to not make the same mistakes they’ve been making at other places.

Stan Drayton when he gets better from this recent sickness will have a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason and one of them should be to go in a new direction in the way of coaching staff leadership on the offensive side of the football.

Danny Langsdorf has come up microscopically small not only Saturday but the entirety of this season and it’s painfully obvious new leadership is needed on that side of the ball.

That said, the other two areas of the team–special teams and defense–contributed to Temple’s loss.

Temple’s offensive woes mean you can’t muff a punt that leads to a Navy touchdown. Defensively, in overtime, Temple has to be aware that there is literally no chance that a backup quarterback that had not completed a pass all game would complete one to beat Temple.

Temple’s defense had to be aware enough to sell out to stop the run from the 25 in overtime, kick the field goal and win the game.

For all of the apologists who say this is a moral victory (none exist in my mind), just remember that a local FCS staff with an entire team of FCS players was able to hold Navy to seven points this season.

If our local FBS team with the luxury of having FBS players was able to do the same, we’d be writing about a 20-7 Temple win today.

Whatever decent effort the players gave yesterday should have resulted in a win. They can mostly thank their coaches that it did not. Stan Drayton is the CEO and, even though he was home watching on TV, he is responsible for repairing this mess.

Monday: What Might Have Been

Navy-Temple: Transitive property proven wrong?

Notice how Delaware bunches up five players near the line of scrimmage, a 3-3-5 configuration and one LB two yards behind the center to take away the fullback. Every subsequent game Delaware changed back to its normal 4-3. Temple chief of staff Everett Withers has said the Owls won’t change their base defense to counter what Navy does and that’s not a good sign.

Manny Rojas would have been a good guy for the Temple coaching brain trust to consult on a professional level this week.

Rojas is the defensive coordinator at the University of Delaware, who not only beat Navy, but held them to seven points in a 14-7 win earlier this year. It might have been nice to pick his brain and ask how the Blue Hens held Navy’s potent rushing attack to less than 200 yards that day. (Or they could watch the film and see where Rojas played six defenders near the line of scrimmage, put his best down linebacker over the center and took away the fullback, and made Navy go sideline to sideline.)

Doubt it because coaches like to think they know everything and the game plan Temple will bring to Annapolis will probably be the one formulated in the coaching offices at the Edberg Olson Football Complex. Those game plans have been dreadful so far.

Judging by that approach and also comparative scores, this could get ugly.

Fortunately, transitive property rarely is a thing in college football where each game is different and the odd shaped ball bounces in strange ways.

However, humor us here just in case.

The way it goes for Temple at Navy (3:30 p.m., CBS Sports) is simply this: UCF beat Temple, 70-13; East Carolina beat UCF, 34-13 and Navy beat ECU, 23-20.

By that logic, Navy should come away with a historic 81-point victory over Temple by about 6:30 tomorrow night.

That won’t happen since college football has seldom proved the theory of transitive property and the way that Navy approaches the game–taking huge chunks off the clock with long scoring drives–does not lend itself to 81-point wins.

Still, there are plenty of reasons for Temple fans to worry about this particular game.

One, head coach Stan Drayton has been sick all week and Chief of Staff Everett Withers is the next logical choice to step in for him should Drayton not be able to make the game. Withers sat in for Drayton in Monday’s press conference and on Wednesday night’s Stan Drayton Radio show. Both times Withers said Temple will not change its base defense to counter what Navy does. That kind of stubbornness is what got ECU beat in a shocking home loss to Navy. Withers didn’t wither, though.

On both occasions, Withers referred to his role at Temple as the “coach of the coaches” and, if true, Drayton will probably delegate the ultimate authority to someone who has been head coach at places like North Carolina, James Madison and Texas State if he can’t make it. If Withers steps in and becomes Temple head coach for a day, he will be the first person to hold that job having been fired at three other places previously holding the same top job.

And Temple has played football since 1884.


Get well quick, Stan.

Another reason for fans of the Owls to be concerned is that the same Navy defense Temple will play tomorrow held Tulsa to just 25 yards rushing. Temple, err, “held” Tulsa to 300 rushing yards.

That could mean a couple of things.

Temple’s defense could have a whole lot more trouble with Navy’s rushing game than Tulsa’s or, two, Temple–which had 89 rushing yards AGAINST Tulsa–could struggle even more getting yards against Navy.

A third reason to worry is that this same Navy team beat Temple, 38-14, last year, and Temple has fared worse in two of its three AAC games this season than last year (falling to a UCF team by 57 that it lost to by 42 last year and losing to Memphis team by 21 that it beat last year). To be fair, the 27-16 loss to Tulsa this year was better than the 44-10 loss to Tulsa last year.

You read that right. Rod Freaking Carey has outperformed Stan Drayton in two of the league three comparisons we have to go on. It would be nice for the Drayton staff to use the next five games to jump over that ridiculously low bar.

Maybe this is the day Drayton turns things around.

Or the day he hands the reins over to Withers, who does it for him.

Either way, Rojas probably could have made a significant contribution if asked. His email is rojasm@udel.com

Or he’s just one phone call away and there are still a few hours to place it.

Picks. Like ECU to cover the 3 at BYU and former Temple assistant Mike McIntryre, now the FIU head coach, covering the 6 against visiting La Tech tonight. Also laying the 8 with BC at UConn due to the fact that BC will probably bring more fans to the game than the Huskies will.

Record: Last week: 5-5. Season: 22-17

Update: Former Temple assistant Mike McIntryre inherited a 1-11 FIU team (part of that record thanks to Everett Withers) and now has them at 4-4. Coach of the year material. So we won on FIU and ECU and lost on UConn (as first-year coach Jim Mora Jr. also has done a better job than Drayton with less to work with). Neither of those two guys worked with Arthur Johnson so they are there and Drayton is here. Record for the season: 24-18.

Late Saturday: Game Analysis