TU Announcement: Avoid High Risk at all Costs

New Temple University athletic director Arthur Johnson probably had plenty of time to pull out a book while watching one of those boring 52-3 or 49-7 football losses his team had this fall.

Or maybe it was the 44-10 one or the 37-8 one?

Hopefully, he read Bob Reiss’ 2000 book, “Low Risk High Reward,” which should be must reading for any Temple athletic director and it particularly applies to the current search for this school.

Reiss played basketball on an unbeaten Columbia University team in the 1960s and applied much of his competitiveness to the business world.

Simply put, Reiss argues against the “High Risk, High Reward” theory that has been accepted by some. He advocates that low risk can produce high reward as well.

A lot of these assistant coaches Temple seems to be wooing come under the theory of “High Risk, High Reward” and, if Reiss was part of the search firm hired by Temple, he would probably present a compelling reason why that’s not the way to go for the university at this time.

Reason No. 1: There are a couple of “low risk, high reward” candidates out there so there’s no need to go the high-risk route. Reason No. 2: If the high-risk assistant proves The Peter Principle (rising to his level of incompetence), then Temple football will be sentenced to a Dark Age where they will have no choice of honoring a bad contract for the duration. Bob Diaco, the National Assistant Coach of the year who fell flat on his face at UConn, is the perfect example of a highly-regarded assistant coach not being able to handle the headset on gameday. He basically killed the UConn program.

Temple can’t afford to pay off Rod Carey, pay the next guy millions and then find out a couple years into a five-year contract that the new guy is Rod Carey 2.0.

Places like Miami and USC have the wherewithal to replace a bad coach every couple of years. Temple’s quota is one firing every generation.

They will have to suck it up and lose big for five years and that might be the death knell of the program.

The solution is simple: Lower the risk by getting a proven winning head coach (no matter what the level) who comes with an intimate knowledge of Temple and how to produce a high reward in this specific job.

Al Golden is such a guy. If he’s not interested, Gabe Infante and Preston Brown are proven head coaching winners whose time at Temple gave them an outline of what needs to be done to turn things around here.

Anyone else is a crapshoot and Temple doesn’t have the chips to play craps with this hiring.

There’s no need for the risks associated with hiring a Texas running backs’ coach or a Texas A&M defensive line coach, a current NFL assistant or even another MAC head coach.

Temple has the chance over the next couple of days to prove to the world that the lower the risk the higher the reward.

Friday: Reaction to the Hiring

TU coaching search: Checking all the boxes?

Had an interesting text back-and-forth with a longtime observer of Temple football who mentioned Candidate X (we won’t say who his name is) and added confidently, “he checks all the boxes.”

Hmm.

“Where’s the box for prior head coaching experience?”

“Err, all the boxes except that one, I mean.”

“That’s a box, too, and a pretty important one.”

“You mean like Rod Carey?”

“No, Temple needs to find a guy who checks all 10 boxes, not nine of the 10 boxes. Carey checked the head coaching box, but didn’t check the other nine boxes (things like knowledge of the recruiting footprint, Temple personnel, etc.)”

My point was that if you can get a guy who has head coaching experience, knowledge of Temple personnel and recruiting footprint and all the other boxes, why not go for the 10 boxes, not the nine?

If someone like that wasn’t out there and available, that would be one thing but there are a few.

Our post from Dec. 3 … I still have that feeling and I hope to hell I’m wrong.

Hopefully, the Temple administration gets a guy who checks all the boxes and, in my opinion, that eliminates all but a very few top candidates.

Al Golden checks all the boxes. Gabe Infante checks all the boxes and, to a lesser extent, a guy like Chris Partridge (Ole Miss DC) checks all the boxes due to his one year as head coach at Paramaus High. Lesser extent is the key phrase here. In fact, Preston Brown’s two seasons as a regional South Jersey championship head coach catapults him over Partridge in the all-important head coaching box. He already has him beaten in the knowledge of Temple and recruiting department. (Although Partridge does have a rudimentary knowledge of Mid-Atlantic recruiting.) Golden and Infante, like both Fran and Preston Brown, are popular with the players (and the players’ families) and have the added bonus of being winning head coaches.

Golden, Infante, Patridge and Brown pairs the guys who check all of the boxes to just four. Dan Mullen checks the head coaching box, as does Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton, but getting a guy who understands Temple in and out are the top boxes. Mullen and Creighton strike me as Carey 2.0. While all of the other high-profile head coaches have gone to the big power schools, Temple does have a chance to hire one head coach who would be better for Temple than all of them.

Head coaching experience might not be the most important box, but it needs to be on the “all boxes” list. It would be nice to have a coach who locks down special teams, who has an attacking defense (and not a slogan like Mayhem) and a ball-control offense that keeps your own defense off the field.

That comes with experience calling the plays and being a CEO of a successful program. College experience is preferred, but if you’ve proven you can be the CEO of a championship program at a lower level, that’s better than a running backs coach who has not.

Why do I get the feeling that Temple will hire someone who checks some of the boxes and not all?

That’s because the names I’ve been hearing, like Texas connections Elijah Robinson (A&M line coach) and Stan Drayton (Texas RB coach) keep popping up.

If the search committee serves as a guardrail in place so that another crony hire doesn’t blow up in Temple’s face (like Pat Kraft and Rod Carey and Bill Bradshaw and Fran Dunphy), it will have served its purpose.

Hopefully, they’ve got a list that doesn’t miss any boxes and they check them all off.

Monday: The Announcement

5 Potential Candidates for Temple HC job

Preston Brown could be the one who puts Temple football on the national map.
Al Golden

Another Monday goes past, another opportunity for a Rod Carey firing press conference goes by with a swing and a miss from the Temple administration.

It looks like Temple fans are stuck with this guy for another week.

Meanwhile, a lucky 13 other universities have already fired their head coach with an eye on the all-important Dec. 15 early (and really only these days) signing date.

Hopefully, new athletic director Arthur Johnson and new Temple President Dr. Jason Wingard are making their early Christmas lists for head coaches and checking them twice. Or they could be twiddling their thumbs which would be a disaster on the order of what we’ve seen on the field the last five weeks.

A number of names have surfaced in social media circles, some appealing, some not. We’re going to eliminate all of those names who don’t have head coaching experience anywhere and come up with the five most appealing names so far.

5. Tom Herman, offensive analyst Chicago Bears

Plusses: Knows the AAC, knows current Temple AD Arthur Johnson, beat Temple in the 2015 AAC title game so at least is aware the school exists.

Minus: Very little knowledge of Temple’s recruiting footprint and doesn’t fit the profile of past successful Temple coaches.

Rating: Probably a lot better than Carey (who isn’t?), but his ceiling at Temple is right around 6-6.

Verdict: Hard pass

Gabe Infante

4. Dan Mullen, ex-Florida head coach.

Plusses: From the Philadelphia area, knows the Temple recruiting footprint, a great gameday coach in all but this season.

Minus: Probably won’t have the energy needed to be a Temple head coach so his ceiling is probably around 7-5.

Verdict: At least worth a look.

3. Preston Brown, current director of Player Personnel, Temple football

Pluses: Has been a championship head coach, knows not only the Temple football recruiting footprint but every current Temple recruiting target. Would be able to stop the transfer portal bleeding that Temple has experienced under Carey. Record as a head coach 41-23. Rebuilt Woodrow Wilson High from an 0-12 season to two-straight South Jersey Group 3 titles.

Minus: None

Verdict: A potential home run hire who might do for Temple football what John Chaney did for Temple basketball. Ceiling: Double-digit winning seasons.

2. Gabe Infante, current running backs coach, Temple football

Plusses: A 91-23 record as head coach at St. Joseph’s Prep after a successful stint as a head coach in New Jersey, knows both sides of the river, has won four large school PIAA state championships in Pennsylvania, two-time National High School Coach of Year, players love him. Ceiling: Multiple AAC titles.

Minus: None.

Verdict: If the next guy says no, he’s your guy.

  1. Al Golden, linebackers coach, Cincinnati Bengals

Plusses: Knows Edberg-Olson Hall inside and out, loved by all the support staff and alumni and fans, has the “secret sauce” to win at Temple, would create instant excitement and credibility with the fan base that no other candidate would. He’s already in the school’s Hall of Fame and probably would have the kind of successful second stint at Temple head coach that Bill Snyder did at Kansas State. Would include Infante and Brown on the new staff and one could be named head coach in waiting.

Minus: Might not have the same burning desire to rebuild Temple the second time and is probably not as good a game day coach as the above four. Ceiling is 8-9 wins a year, but his floor is 6 wins and, since the floor has collapsed the last two years, Temple might want to shore that up before looking at ceiling repairs.

Verdict: Like Bill Bradshaw wrote on that yellow legal pad in 2005, “this is our guy.” Temple would have to woo him like a five-star recruit and hopefully Johnson has that salesman trait in him.

Friday: Season Mercifully Comes to an end

Sunday: Game Analysis

Arthur Johnson, Meet Gabe Infante

Right about now, new Temple athletic director Arthur Johnson is just starting his “listen and learn” tour talking to Temple staff members, fans and other supporters.

Listening and learning is a good start and Johnson’s willingness to do that is a good sign.

My only reservation about giving the job to an “outsider” (i.e, non-Philadelphian or Temple guy) is that Johnson would not know people like Gabe Infante, the national high school coach of the year in the 2018 season for perennial Pennsylvania large school state champion St. Joseph’s Prep. That high school is located two blocks West and five blocks South of Temple at 17th and Thompson.

Talk about finding Acres of Diamonds in your own back yard…

I’ve never met Gabe, but, having covered Pennsylvania high school football since 1975 for both the Doylestown Intelligencer and Philadelphia Inquirer, I’ve gotten to know people I respect in the high school football world on both sides of the river and they all rave about him. Not a single one has said a negative word about his ability as both a head coach and a CEO of a program. The reviews about him as a person are even more glowing.

Gabe Infante is a legendary high school football coach in Philadelphia.

Not only that, in his two years as an assistant coach at Temple, all of the players speak highly of him and whatever success Temple has in recruiting is attributed to him.

I have seen plenty of his games when he was head coach at the Prep and his teams never jumped offsides, never had false starts and always made dynamic plays on special teams. Their offensive line sprinted to the line of scrimmage for every play. (No lie. Check the film.) They were more well-drilled than most college and NFL teams. Do you think if Gabe rather than Rod was calling the shots in Cincy that Dwan Mathis would be pressured as much as he was? No way. Not a single time did Temple give Mathis max protect and that’s just football 101 when pass protection is struggling. Max protect isn’t in Carey’s playbook.

It is in Infante’s.

He’s a future superstar as a college head coach and the school who gets him will be lucky to have him and, right now, Temple has him. He knows what he’s doing.

In other words, the opposite of Temple under Rod Carey.

When you lose as many games as Carey has in three years by 25 points or more (and he’s done that more than any Temple coach in recent memory), it’s the little things like that adding up to a lopsided scoreboard.

Throw in Temple leading the nation in portal transfers and his players are not happy. Players are going out the door at twice the rate as they are coming in and the program is bleeding to death.

It’s time to stop the bleeding with a coach the players love and respect and who will keep them here and bring better ones into Philadelphia. If I’m Johnson, I’d fire Carey right now, hire Gabe, keep Preston Brown and Walter Stewart and get rid of all of the carpetbaggers from Northern Illinois but that’s probably even above his pay grade.

That’s what this listen and learn tour should be all about.

Learning involves history. Those who don’t learn from it are condemned to repeat it and, so far in the modern era, Temple has had success with two head coaching types:

One, a nationally accomplished head coach in Wayne Hardin who took Navy to No. 2 in the country and Temple to a No. 17 finish;

Two, driven assistant coaches with local connections like Al Golden and Matt Rhule.

Even with Hardin, he knew Philadelphia because he was a pro head coach who won the CFL title with the Philadelphia Bulldogs (playing at Temple Stadium) in 1966. Bringing in people from “there” who don’t understand “here” has never worked with Temple football in the past and likely won’t in the future.

Golden probably would be a safe pick (if he wants Chapter Two at Temple), a guy who could probably provide stability and win eight games a year. His good friend Infante probably has a higher ceiling and will flirt with multiple double-digit win seasons and challenge for league championships.

Listening and learning involves finding out all about Gabe Infante and knowing he’s a sooner-than-later fail safe option. It’s time to stop the bleeding and the mass exodus of players that invariably are the result of embarrassing losses and restore the Temple TUFF culture.

Friday: Fans react

New Beginnings: Recruiting

National high school coach of the year Gabe Infante would be my first choice to replace Rod Carey should the wheels fall off this year.

Maybe after nearly three years of banging his head against a wall Rod Carey has figured out a way to succeed at Temple.

Better late than never.

For MOST of the first two years, he relied primarily on his Midwest recruiting connections.

Some nice players out there but, when they get to 10th and Diamond, there has been a history of culture shock.

Not every intersection is for everybody.

The good news is that there are literally thousands of urban kids–good players from good families–who are not only used to the urban environment but prefer it.

The Owls have an established gem on the Pennsylvania side of the river in Gabe Infante. Great head coach with multiple state championships under his belt and the kids love him.

Now they have Preston Brown.

Lose one Camden Brown (Fran), gain another.

Two-time South Jersey state champion Preston Brown (holding trophy) would be my second choice to replace Carey. If Carey goes 10-2 this year, I vote for Carey to remain at Temple.

I would argue Carey got the better Brown.

Hear me out here.

The Brown who went to Rutgers was never a head coach and never won squat as a head coach.

The Brown who Temple hired this week not only won one but multiple New Jersey championships as a head coach at Woodrow Wilson.

The kids love the Temple Brown as much and maybe more than the Rutgers Brown (no relation).

Plus, Carey has now surrounded himself with legendary state championship high school coaches in the very fertile recruiting ground (Southeast Pennsylvania and South Jersey) any Temple head coach must dominate. There are more FBS players in the fourth-largest market in the country than there are in 10 of the next 35 markets.

Temple should have a huge advantage over the Cincys, Memphises and Tulsas and at least rival the UCF/USF Orlando-Tampa market. No Temple fan has been harder on Carey than me but, if anything, I’m objective.

There is no reason (none) that Temple should not compete for the AAC title every season.

The fact that Carey doesn’t feel threatened by the existence of Brown and Infante so close to his office speaks volumes for Carey’s confidence in himself and that he can do the job here.

Since I’m much more a fan of 10-2 than I am of 2-10, I hope Carey’s faith in these two great men pays off sooner than later.

Time is running out for Carey, but it is definitely on the side of Gabe and Preston. The fact that Carey doesn’t feel threatened by either guy makes me respect Rod more today than I did yesterday. Rod, I hope to hell that you succeed because 2020 reminded me more than anything that I hate losing more than I love winning.

Monday: WWGCD?

TU Football: It’s going to get worse

Do you think these jackasses could have figured out a way not to kick it to No. 22?

As much as I like to dig through the boxes and find those Cherry and White colored glasses we’ve used in the past, this season has opened our eyes to a new reality.

Today’s hard truth. The Owls will finish 1-7 this year, probably should have been 0-8, and, next year, if they get a dozen games in, they won’t be more than 2-10 in the 2021 season.

If that.

Not unless they make a coaching change now, and with $6 million due the current coach, I don’t see that happening.

The result of that non-action is at least another mini-dark age for Temple football and Owl fans who have lived through one long dark age might not have the stomach for another.

As a once wise philosopher said, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

A new coach–just throwing out names like Al Golden and Gabe Infante, for starters–could infuse new excitement and maybe keep the players around.

Did you see any excitement coming from the players in the closing two minutes as head coach Rod Carey took four consecutive delay of game penalties to get his ass out of there?

That’s a losing attitude. It’s nowhere near Temple TUFF and has very little to do with COVID.

When Temple was getting ready to play Memphis, even after the loss to Navy, the Owls had the best regular-season AAC record of any team in the league’s championship era, better than UCF, Memphis, Cincy.

Once-proud program fading fast

Now they’ve slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 overall in just a few short weeks.

The snippets of failure have been there for all to see all year.

When the Owls blocked a field goal early in the game when they were competitive, did you a see one Owl–just one–even have an interest in picking that block off the ground and taking it the other way?

That’s coaching, or lack of it.

Lew Katz is long gone and there is nobody out there with his kind of coin who gives two hoots about Temple football with the will and the cash to buy out current head coach Rod Carey’s contract.

Why is it about to get worse?

Players, good players, the best players on the team, are openly talking about jumping ship. One inside E-O source told me that both Branden Mack and Jadan Blue are gone next year and, if they don’t get drafted, they are headed to P5 schools. The team’s only returning AAC first-team defensive player, a tackle, told OwlsDaily last week he is “exploring his options.”

Too much talent has left the building and even more is contemplating leaving in the offseason.

That leaves Temple with glorified scout team players as the face of its program for next year, and maybe the one after that, too.

You can talk about all the young guys getting playing time all you want, but these “young guys” were part of middle-of-the-pack recruiting classes and, if the “young guys” on Cincinnati, Memphis and UCF–all classes ranked higher than Temple’s the last three years–had a chance to play on Saturday, the odds of them playing a more competitive game than 28-3 are significantly higher.

Time to cut the losses and inject new energy into the program. Time and money, though, are two different things. If the Temple administration can’t find the money, they will tell us to be patient and have the time.

Those of us who went through this before don’t have time for that, not after we went through the same thing from 1991-2009. Fall is a beautiful season and we can find better things to do and, if we have to, we will.

Monday: Fizzy’s Corner

Temple-UCF: Inside the War Room

Gotta wonder what happens when all the Temple coaches get together to game plan the next opponent on the schedule.

Since what happens in the Coaches Conference Room at the E-O is not televised, we can only imagine.

Full disclosure: After watching the first few Temple games, I’m convinced they don’t even game plan for an opponent.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that they were so embarrassed they lost 62-21 to UCF at home last year and they don’t want that history to repeat itself before a national TV audience (ESPN-U, 7:30 p.m.) on Saturday night.

Rod Carey: “Fellas, we’re feeling a little heat here. Temple fans are used to winning and my plan to use this fall as an extension of spring practice probably isn’t working. I got hammered by an anonymous fan on Temple Football Forever Thursday. I want to win. You want to win. Anyone have any ideas how we extend the game to the fourth quarter Saturday night and steal it then?”

Mike Uremovich: “Rod, you know what we did at Northern. We played the RPO every game and accepted the results.”

Rod: “Gabe, any ideas?”

Gabe Infante: “We are playing into their hands that way. If we run the RPO, they don’t respect the quarterback’s ability to run the ball, and they are going to come after Anthony on the next two downs. He will probably either get sacked or throw incompletions. Not Anthony’s fault at all, but asking him to run is not his forte and probably will result in giving Dillon Gabriel about a zillion more possessions than he needs to have.”

Rod: “What do we do to avoid that?”

Gabe: “When I was the head coach at (St. Joseph’s) Prep, we played a lot of nationally ranked Florida teams with much more speed than us but we always beat them.”

Rod: “How?”

Gabe Infante after beating Florida’s top-ranked high school team.

Gabe: “Put two tight ends on the field, put a fullback on the field, line up in run formations on first down. They’ve seen our film. They expect the run on first down. Fake them out by throwing short passes, run on second down, keep the sticks and clock moving. Take a chance every now and then with a fake to our tailback, followed by a deep ball. Keep the defense off balance. Those high-octane offenses never saw the ball. We had eight-minute drives each quarter. We’d get seven points one quarter, three points the next, seven at the beginning of the third and, before you know it, we had a 17-0 lead and they were playing catch up. We’re from Philly, 17th and Thompson, and that’s only five blocks west and five blocks south from this room we’re in now. We used our toughness to our advantage.”

Rod: “Sounds good but we run the RPO. That’s what we do.”

Gabe: “That’s precisely the point. That’s what they do. They are more comfortable with us doing what they do, throwing passes, stopping the clock, giving them more possessions. I’d say let’s make them uncomfortable and keep our defense off the field. I’m the running backs coach but I’m all for helping our defense any way I can.”

Rod: “Mike, what do you think?”

Mike: “We didn’t do that at NIU, Rod. I’m not comfortable with a fullback and two tight ends.”

Rod: “That settles it. We’re going to do what we do and let the chips fall where they may.”

Gabe: “But, Rod, the chips haven’t fallen our way so far, let’s try other chips.”

Rod: “Gabe, I love you, man, but this is what got me to 52-30 at NIU and I’m sticking with the plan Saturday night. Meeting adjourned.”

(Coaches get up leaving the room while Adam DiMichele can heard mumbling under his breath: “That’s also what got us beat 62-21 last year.”)

Rod: “Adam, did you say anything?”

Adam: “No, nothing, Rod.”

Rod: “OK, let’s do this. Let’s beat them at their game.”

Picks this week: Went 1-2 opening week against the spread and skipped last week, but like a few games on the docket this weekend. First, Friday night the Florida Atlantic Owls covering the 8.5 spread at nearby FIU. On Saturday, taking Wisconsin to cover the 3.5 at Michigan and Penn State the same number at Nebraska. For the final game, going for Louisiana Tech to cover the 1.5 against the visiting Rice Owls. All favorites this week, no underdogs.

Update: Evened the season record at 3-3 by going 2-1 against the spread. FAU easily covered the 8.5 as did Wisconsin the 3.5. Only loss was Nebraska beating PSU. LT and Rice postponed due to COVID. Record this week: 2-1. Overall: 3-3.

Saturday Night: Game Analysis

Temple defense: The unspoken truth

It’s real bad when South Alabama gives Tulane a better game than Temple does.

How bad is it?

It’s bad.

Really bad.

Even when Anthony Russo gets back to fix the offense, and sadly that’s not this week, the unspoken truth about Temple football is that the defense cannot be fixed.

It’s this bad:

Temple’s defense gave up 37 points to South Florida, a team that scored only 27 on The Citadel, 13 against Tulsa and 24 against East Carolina.

Temple’s defense gave up 38 points to a Tulane team that could score only 27 on South Alabama and 24 on Navy. South Alabama? That noted power which lost to UAB, 42-10?

Yep.

Temple’s defense gave up 31 points to a Navy team that could only score three against BYU and 7 against Air Force.

If Rod Carey falters, looming in the shadows behind him is Gabe Infante

And very little of the above had to do with COVID, because much of the evidence had been there before head coach Rod Carey could pull that excuse.

What did Quincy Roche know and when did he know it?

It would be nice if the AAC Defensive Player of the Year had stayed at Temple to bolster a virtually non-existent pass rush, but he did not and Temple did not get an adequate replacement for him. Did Roche have a problem with Rod Carey? Or Jeff Knowles? Or Walter Stewart?

Carey went into the season shrugging off the personnel departures like Roche, quarterback Toddy Centeio and tight end Kenny Yeboah, saying “we want to go with the guys who want to be here.”

Think about that point and extrapolate it for a second. If the entire starting offense and defense wanted to leave but the scout teams on both sides of the ball want to stay, do you really want to go with the guys who want to be here?

Why do only the good guys want to leave?

Do you think the Owls would have done better than three points if Toddy was still here?

I do.

The evidence is that the offense is an AAC high-quality one when Russo is in the game, scoring 29 against both Navy and Memphis and 32 (one was a defensive score) against USF. That’s on the high end of opponents against those teams.

Three points with two backup quarterbacks against a poor defense like Tulane is inexcusable, but it matters little if the defense cannot keep people off the scoreboard and nothing we’ve seen thus far provides any evidence that will change.

That’s the unspoken truth about this season.

Until maybe now.

Friday: SMU preview

Recruiting 2021: That’s What I’m Talking About

 

There are none so blind as refuse to see.

The blueprints for Temple football’s decade-long transformation from 2006 chump to 2016 champ were in the Edberg-Olson Complex for all to see and it appears, after some rummaging through the files in the attic, Rod Carey’s staff have found them in one important area: Recruiting.

After a hiatus of Geoff Collins making a failed run through the South to fuel Temple with largely suspects, the Owls have gotten back to the prospect formula that worked so well for Al Golden and Matt Rhule:

Recruit Mid-Atlantic and DMV (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) hard but, more importantly, get a significant number of players who have Power 5 offers. For Golden and Rhule, that breakdown was roughly this: 10-15 three stars and above with solid P5 offers with the rest of the class at least two stars and trusting the film on the others.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Willis.

 

Two stars like Tyler Matakevich (consensus national defensive player of the year as a senior) and Haason Reddick (a first-round NFL draft choice) were coached into five stars by the time they left.

Still, you can’t coach every two-star into a five-star and your chances are a lot better when your base is three.

betting

We won’t get into every recruit, but running back Johnny Martin III is rated near the top of RBs in New Jersey and strong side defensive end Jordan Laudato of West Chester Henderson was rated as high as the No. 2 DE in the state of Pennsylvania. The Owls’ most recent commitment, safety Christian Abraham (St. Joseph’s, Montvale, N.J.) is in the top 30 of defensive players in that state.  Justin Lynch (Mount Carmel, Chicago) is the brother of a quarterback (Jordan) who was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Rod Carey’s former school, NIU. He was the leader of a state championship team in Illinois a year ago. In horse racing, good bloodlines almost always mean triple crown contenders. I like Lynch’s future at Temple. He was one of the few who didn’t have a P5 offer, but his film is among the most impressive.

According to Scout.com, Temple now has 10 “hard commitments” and not a single one is lower than a three-star. Almost all had Power 5 offers (not just interest) in hand by commitment day. That’s the best recruiting start we’ve seen in a long while.

Even more importantly, the Owls have been building trust and relationships centered particularly around running backs coach Gabe Infante. Recruits have gone out of their way to praise Infante and he seems to be thriving in a role once played by Fran Brown.

Friday: One of Dick Englert’s last letters from a fan

Recruiting looking up for Carey

National High School Coach of the Year Gabe Infante will have a positive impact on both Temple’s game plans and recruiting

People who were wondering what the Temple football coaches were doing since spring practice was cut short can rest easy now because it’s obvious that they haven’t been.

The Temple coaches obviously have been working and working hard.

Rod Carey dipped into his past to pick up a center and now the Owls have a marquee running back for the future.

The 2021 class now includes one of the best running backs in South Jersey, Blackwood’s Johnny Martin and the Owls were able to land a big-time portal transfer from Northern Illinois, center C.J. Perez, to fit an area of need.

Also, Gonzaga (D.C.) defensive back Jalen McMurray turned down multiple Power 5 offers to attend Temple on a firm commitment (“I won’t listen to other offers”) and Iowa State’s No. 2 quarterback, Re-Al Mitchell, is a portal transfer.

Impressive indeed as I don’t recall even great recruiters like Al Golden and Matt Rhule getting a similar haul in the space of one month. Rod Carey is a damn good gameday coach, even if I disagree with his RPO offense, but him getting players eschewing the Power 5 for Temple was always a huge question for me.

Not anymore.

Already, the recruiting prowess of running backs coach Gabe Infante is starting to show. Infante has been a legendary high school head coach in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey and, when he was hired, it was thought he would be able to bring in a motherlode of talent from both sides of the river.

It took more time than I thought but better late than never.

To me, if Carey ever left, Al Golden would be a nice replacement but Infante might be an even better one. Golden can recruit and CEO but Infante can recruit and game-day head coach way better than Al. CEO? That’s a question but he was a damn good CEO at St. Joseph’s Prep.

It took him a little time to get his feet wet, but now it appears his persuasive powers helped him land someone who a few Power 5 schools were after. Just look at this quote from Martin, as told to 247 sports recruiting guru Brian Dohn.

If the kind of relationship-building skills Infante showed with Martin manifests itself in future recruits, the Owls could be moving up the rankings. Right now, their class is in the middle of the AAC pack (fifth) and they are an unacceptable 83 overall.

Something tells me by filling in areas of immediate need, as with Perez, and future need, as with Martin, the 2021 class will finish closer to 50 nationally and in the top three in the conference when all is said and done.

Not ideal, but you can win with those kinds of numbers, and,  with a head coach with an FBS record of 60-36, you can win a lot.

I’m not asking to win national championships at Temple but I’m asking to win a lot and the month of May, 2020, has been a terrific step in that direction. It’s nice to know the coaches are earning their coronavirus paychecks.

Monday: Suspending Campaigns