The Transfer Portal and Temple

“Why you leaving, Anthony?” “Coach, I came here because Rhule promised me a pro-set passing scheme, not an RPO one.”

Nothing has ruined my enjoyment of college football in general and Temple football in particular than the transfer portal.

When the people who rule college football (the Power 5, not the NCAA) got together and imposed this penalty-free system where a player could transfer anywhere he wanted, schools like Temple were hurt the most because the Owls built a respectable program (largely) by identifying top talent ignored by the P5 and coaching them up.

For the better part of the last decade, Temple was the beneficiary of that system.

Something tells me the guy on the left would have been a much-better coach for Russo than Rod Carey turned out to be.

For the better part of the next decade, Temple won’t be. Oh, Temple will still identify the talent and–once a coaching change is made–coach them up, but other schools will benefit from the money Temple spends on coaching and the scholarships Temple gives out.

It’s what I call the Yankee syndrome. Years of listening to New York City sports talk has made me aware of this condition. It usually goes like this. Ryan Howard hits .313 with 58 homers and 138 RBI for the Phillies after the Phillies developed him. Caller to Mike and the Mad Dog in 2006:

“That Ryan Howard for the Phillies looks really good. The Yankees should sign him.”

Mike: “Great idea.”

Mad Dog: “What do you want, Mikey, every good player on every team to sign with the Yankees? How about leaving some of the good players for the other teams? This is getting ridiculous.”

That’s how ridiculous college football has become.

Too many good players are hemorrhaging from G5 schools, specifically Temple, to go to the, err, Yankees. While UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis are able to keep their best players, Temple is not. Guess what? Those are the schools Temple is supposed to compete with and that’s not a good sign. The Owls supposed “replacement” for the AAC Defensive Player of the Year (Quincy Roche), Manny Walker, did virtually nothing this season.

When I was diplomatic and posted on social media that Walker did virtually nothing, I was challenged by a Bruce Arians Era player.

“Mike, he did virtually nothing? He did nothing.”

Yeah, on second thought, you are right.

Now the Owls have signed another, err, replacement for Roche in Will Rodgers III from Washington State. In two years, he had as many sacks as Roche did in a single season for Temple.

Nice pickup but as good as Roche?

Err, no.

That’s where the departure of, in my mind, Temple’s best player on this year’s team, Anthony Russo, comes into play.

I don’t blame Anthony. He did what he had to do. He did what I would have done had I possessed his skill set. He was playing for a head coach who was so stubborn he tried to fit square pegs (RPO offense) into round holes (the unique talents of his players). It’s the same problem Geoff Collins has at Georgia Tech. He’s got triple-option players trying to run a more NFL passing scheme. What both coaches should have done is exactly what Hugh Freeze is doing at Liberty. Design a system around the player, not vice versa. Carey should have used a fullback his first two years and eased into the RPO he next two ones. Collins should have used a triple option his first two years and eased into whatever Dave Patenaude philosophy (if he has one) in his next two. Guaranteed under those circumstances Carey would have been better than 1-6 and Collins better than 3-5 this year.

Head coaches are stubborn and there are no two more stubborn than Collins and Carey.

Not surprising that players are leaving both programs.

To me, the portal was made for guys like Russo and Toddy Centeio. Russo was stuck in a system that didn’t showcase his NFL talent and Toddy left because he was stuck behind Russo.

The collection of players the Owls rolled out to replace an injured Russo proved only one thing: Russo was 10x better than them and that might be a conservative estimate. The only quarterback I see in the transfer portal better than Anthony Russo is McKenzie Milton. Do you think MM would come to Temple to play for Rod Carey? That’s laughable. Much more likely that a Matt Rhule or an Al Golden would be able to sweet talk him into that kind of move.

The bottom line about the transfer portal and Temple is that if you are the Temple head coach and somebody leaves, you are supposed to replace them with as good or a better player than the one who left.

Otherwise, as a head coach, you have not done your job.

On top of the horrible 1-6 bottom line, color me unimpressed with this aspect of the Rod Carey Regime.

He’s got to do much better in the player acquisition area in order to avoid an even worse numbers problem.

Monday: The Russo Legacy

Picks this week: I split two games last week against the spread, taking me from 7-4 to 8-5 against the spread for the season. I was leaning to Pitt laying the seven at poorly coached GT but failed to pull the trigger (kicking myself for that). Games we are pulling the trigger on (for amusement only): Taking North Carolina to cover the 3.5 against Miami and the Rice Owls to cover the 6.5 against former Temple Owl assistant AD Mark Ingram, who is the current UAB athletic director.

Update: Won both as North Carolina not only covered the 3.5 but blew it away in a 62-26 win and Rice covered the 6.5 in a 21-16 loss. Now at 10-5 against the spread for the season.


Portal: The newest dirty word


Anytime the rich are making the rules you can be sure of one thing: None of the rules will result in making any of them poorer.

That’s the microscope the NCAA’s transfer portal has to be examined under.

For fans of fairness in college sports in general and including Temple football fans, portal is the newest dirty word.

The portal was started for the noblest of reasons. Since coaches could leave their programs without sitting out a season, so should players.


SMU did not have the portal in 1946 but used it in 2019 to beat the Owls. (Shockingly late kickoff in this 1946 game, though. Imagine starting the tailgate at 3:30?)

The second premise makes a whole lot of sense if you accept the first one. I don’t. To me, coaches should also have to sit out a year. The NCAA would never go for that because the big 64 football schools (otherwise known as the Power 5) who control the organization want to use the other 65 football schools for their coaching farm system and poach coaches from there.

Plus, the coaches would probably be successful at suing the organization as a restraint of trade.

Now giving players carte blanch on transferring effectively makes the Group of Five another area where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sure, SMU gamed the system by getting 15 portal transfers last year. Something tells me, though, that the P5 schools will be raiding the G5 schools more than the other way around going forward.

What happened to trying to finish out your career with the brothers you came in with? That might be a thing of the past.

Temple suffered such a blow recently when tight end Kenny Yeboah entered the portal and is ostensibly headed for a Power 5 school.

Temple did the hard detective work of scouting and hard recruiting work to bring Yeboah here. No P5 team believed in him and now, only after proving himself here, they are interested in him.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

It’s the way the Yankees operate in major league baseball. “We like Gerrit Cole. We’ll take him. We like Giancarlo Stanton. We’ll take him. Oh, you don’t have the money to keep him? Tough luck.”

That’s how the rich get richer and fans of the rest of the teams become disenchanted and while it is harder, not easier, to become a fan of Temple or any aspiring school going forward. Us hardcore fans of the Owls will always be here. Picking off our players, though, will make it a lot tougher for Temple to expand its all-important softcore fanbase.

Friday: Thoughts on the Early Signing Period Guys