TU Coaching Search: Wait and Hurry Up

hurryupandwait

If the prior coaching search at Temple, the one that took place less than a month ago, was all about hurrying up to meet the early December signing period, this one was about waiting.

Then hurrying up.

Since there was only one other high-profile FBS job available, Temple athletic director Dr. Pat Kraft had to wait for what the Power 5 school (West Virginia) did and then move on after that. Kraft didn’t only have egg on his face after the Manny Diaz Fiasco, he had a whole Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast. No use hiring a guy on Thursday, only to have him move on to West Virginia on Friday.

We are exaggerating for effect. We think. 

fastnarducci

slownarducci

Seven hours between these two tweets

First, the waiting part.

Since West Virginia hired Troy’s Neal Brown–arguably the most accomplished proven FBS head coach out there–yesterday, Temple has a smorgasbord of pretty decent candidates to choose from and about $8.5 million to spend on a head coach  ($6.5 million in buyouts and Geoff Collins‘ regular $2 million salary) to spread over the next five years.

This time none of the candidates have a place to jump to after 17 days. One or two years maybe, but not 17 days.

pophead

Temple’s depression-era offer of $12,500K per year lured Pop Warner away from Stanford. The second splash hire, Wayne Hardin, arguably turned out to be a better one.

The Owls can pay Dana Holgorsen money for a superstar like current Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold or national coach of the year Jeff Monken (Army) or they can dig back deep into the coordinator churn pile for someone like Texas DC Todd Orlando. Leipold is probably out because he has shown no interest in the Temple job (not everyone is), although the concept of hiring a guy who kicked Geoff Collins’ ass with Buffalo talent is more than intriguing. Temple produces NFL players so Monken and his triple-option is probably out and hiring another team’s coordinator after Diaz probably would probably not be received well by the Temple fan base demanding a splash with the newfound money. Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton pulled a minor miracle in an impossible place to win this year, but he hasn’t shown he can sustain it like Leipold and Monken.

Now Temple has money for a “splash” hire and one opportunity to spend it.

Really, a solid argument can now be made with Neal Brown gone that Leipold is the only “splash” candidate out there. Seven National championships plus an FBS division championship sets him apart from the rest. The only two times Temple went for a “splash” candidate, Wayne Hardin and Pop Warner, it turned out pretty well.


The only two times
Temple went for a
“splash” candidate,
Wayne Hardin and
Pop Warner, it turned
out pretty well

Popular hirings among a certain segment of Temple fans would be Al Golden and Todd Bowles. Golden gave Temple five great years–a lot longer than 17 days–and still has a tremendous relationship with many long-time Temple fans. He probably saved the program and turned a 0-11 season before he got here into a nine- and an eight-win season before he left. He still has terrific recruiting contacts up and the East Coast and good relationships with Ed Foley and Adam DiMichele. He probably has the competitive instincts to prove was better for Temple than Rhule or Collins. Kraft could not go wrong in bringing him back but we don’t know if he’s even interested. Bowles would be popular with players of the Bruce Arians’ Era but he would be a much harder sell in that he hasn’t really won anywhere.

donbrown

Don Brown in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. Note the words “not on anybody else’s terms.” Kraft could be demanding Brown keep Fran Brown, Ed Foley, Gabe Infante and Adam DiMichele, none of whom Brown knows. This problem would be solved by hiring another guy working in Michigan, Al Golden.

Now the hurrying up part.

When Diaz left, Kraft issued a statement that emphasized two words: Excellence and stability.

Fran Brown, the current interim coach, represents “stability” and is well-liked by the players. Still, since he was seen not as a guy who could take over the Temple head coaching job 23 days ago, it’s hard to sell excellence and Fran Brown. Mike Elko, Don Brown and Manny Diaz were by reports the final three in the first search. Elko pulled out of the first search and used it as leverage to sign a new deal at Texas A&M.

That leads us to Don Brown. Of those mentioned so far, he brings both stability and excellence. He has all the big-time coordinator experience (BC, UConn, Maryland, Michigan) of the other coordinator churn pile guys but a 95-45 record as a head coach at three schools. That’s excellence. At 63, Temple would be his last rodeo and he can say with a straight face at the press conference that he’s not going anywhere. Another plus is that this will enable Fran Brown to learn how to be DC (not co-DC) under Don Brown’s watch and make him a more attractive candidate for the Temple job when Don decides to retire.

The narrow criteria of “excellence” and “stability” could make this hurry up phase of the second search go pretty fast and that’s what one Brown can do for Kraft that the other one cannot.

Monday: The special circumstance now

The Cleanup Begins

Pat O’Connor (left) to Pat Kraft on Monday morning

My only living relative who cares so little about football she watched Star Trek reruns during the last Super Bowl,  listened to my Manny Diaz U-Turn story and said:

“What a fine mess that guy who hired him got Temple into. …”

neal

“That pretty much sums it up,” I said. “It’s a nuclear-type cleanup now.”

Diaz was the Chernobyl of college football coaching hires.  If my relative thinks it’s a mess, I’m pretty sure Temple Board Chairman Pat O’Connor and President Dick Englert and a lot of the other trustees think it’s a mess, too.

That’s not to mention our players and fans. In addition, anybody who recruits against Temple now has fruit so low-hanging to pick from it has fallen on the ground.

Now the cleanup begins.

You are going to see a lot of Pat Kraft defenders on the internet who say: “He could not have seen this coming” and “he can’t be blamed for this” but if I saw it coming the guy who gets paid the big bucks to do the hiring should have, too. This is what we wrote in a caption the day after Diaz was hired:

disclosure

This was written 20 days ago

The point is that this hire was Temple’s way of telling Miami “we’re going to train your next coach and, don’t worry, he will make all of the mistakes on our watch at our expense and, by the time we hand him off give him to you, he’ll be a polished guy.”


Diaz was the Chernobyl
of college football
coaching hires

Everything about this guy, from an entire career in warm-weather climates to the fact that his dad was the freaking Mayor of Miami screamed he was going back to Miami. One year, two years, seventeen days, what’s the difference? That should have all been factored into the Temple hire. If Temple is going to get a rental, get a ready-made one–a guy who can give this current very talented team a path to next year’s AAC title.

This is no time for a trainee.

payraise

This is the answer Geoff Collins gave in his Temple presser two years ago when asked if he was here to stay: “Every kid in there is going to know that I’m going to love them and there’s too much to do now in every moment to think about anything than what happens in the current moment.”

This is the answer Diaz gave at his presser: “All you can do is give them everything you have at the moment. You’ve got to work to improve every day, then go on to the next one.”

Anything sound familiar in those two comments?

Nothing about staying at Temple and building a winning legacy.  Those days might be over, but to achieve a championship now, the days of training rentals for other programs should be over. They should have been over three weeks ago.

Temple should go out and get a polished head coach who can give these fantastic returning players a championship in 2019. There’s a guy named Brown who can do it and it’s not Fran. It’s Neal. All he has done for Troy is do something Temple has never done–win 10 games three-straight years and beaten teams like LSU and Nebraska. Troy is paying him 1/3d of what Temple could and he would be worth every penny.

A 2019 AAC championship and an NY6 bowl would clean up a pretty big mess.

Thursday: Fizzy’s Corner

Saturday: The Slower Pace