Duke-Temple: A unique storyline

When Pat Kraft went to look for a new head coach after Geoff Collins quit, he reportedly zeroed in on Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko.

Elko allowed his name to float in the new Temple head coaching conversation and days later accepted a pay raise to remain at Texas A&M.

Some say he used Temple.

Either way, the game on Sept. 2 offers probably the most unique storyline of the opening weekend.

Elko turns down Temple job, gets raise to stay put, and then Kraft turns to the other DC, Manny Diaz, who stuck around for all of 18 days.

That led to a panic hire of fellow Indiana football alum Rod Carey, who was just a bad fit here.

Good storyline but there’s more.

Since Carey took over Temple, the Owls and Duke had one decent year (2019) and two horrible seasons.

Duke and Temple both had three wins a year ago and, arguably, Duke had both a worse loss than anything Temple had (Charlotte) and probably not a win as impressive as the Owls owned (Memphis).

All that under the backdrop of probably the worst locker room atmosphere we’ve seen at Temple since the Bobby Wallace Era. There was an open rebellion of Temple players, leading to many more good ones leaving than could be replaced.

All offseason signs point to problems at Duke that do not exist at Temple. For instance, its starting quarterback transferred down (FIU) and now they have a competition for the top job between primarily a running quarterback and a passing one.

Sound familiar?

That’s the same scenario at Temple with Dwan Mathis and Quincy Patterson. The difference is that both Temple quarterbacks have started and won FBS games and the two at Duke have not.

Duke and Temple both lost their leading receivers (Jake Bobo to UCLA for Duke and Jadan Blue to Virginia Tech for Temple) so that area appears to be in Temple’s favor simply because the Owls were able to entice the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Duke (Adonicas Sanders) to come to Philadelphia.

On defense, Duke was ranked 130 among all 130 FBS teams last year. The Blue Devils allowed 40 points per game last year (and 518 yards per).

Although Duke is a 7-point favorite now, this is a very winnable game from the Temple perspective.

If the Owls pull it out, the story the next day could be Arthur Johnson’s first choice for Temple head coach was better than Pat Kraft’s first choice to replace Collins.

It would not come as a surprise, let’s put it that way.

Friday: Behind The Digits

Lafayette we are not here

If Pat Kraft does for Penn State what he did for Temple, Nittany Lion fans can expect something like this:

Adding teams Colgate and New Hampshire on the schedule in the future and hiring someone from the Midwest with no knowledge of Pennsylvania or what makes that program tick to replace James Franklin when he jumps to the Redskins, err, Commanders, in a couple of years.

Maybe it will be another Indiana grad. That hire says things like “who cares, he’s a kicker” and “where I’m from, we don’t say we’re tough, we just are” and Penn State becomes a bottom-feeder in the Big 10.

Kraft was a nice guy and probably the most approachable athletic director Temple has had since the great Gavin White.

Plenty of room for improvement in these future schedules

Unlike White, though, Kraft lobbed a few grenades over his shoulder on the way out the McGonigle Hall/Star Complex door that pretty much did a number on Temple sports.

The Rod Carey hiring definitely is one. Maybe Aaron McKie but that’s to be determined. McKie must make the NCAA tournament next year or be shown the door. He doesn’t seem to have the same fire in his belly for winning that his coach, John Chaney, did. Give me 25 wins in 2022-23 and I will like his belly just fine.

No Kraft grenade has done more damage, though, than the football scheduling one.

Twelve years ago Temple played a competitive football game on national television with UCLA and lost arguably only because its star player, Bernard Pierce, could not play in the second half.

Now UCLA will join the Big 10 in a couple of years as will its major rival, USC.

When all is said and done, it looks like we are headed for two superconferences, the SEC and Big 10 and there is a lot of jockeying to get there.

UCLA and USC didn’t get there by playing FCS teams, although an argument can be made P5 teams can afford to play FCS teams more than G5 teams can.

Temple has to play the P5 and beat them in order to get into that exclusive club. It is never going to get there playing FCS teams.

Tough task, but nothing worth achieving is ever easy.

There have been too many cupcakes on the Temple schedule in the past and the blame largely can be put on one man: Pat Kraft.

There is one on the schedule this year: Lafayette. Arguably, two, if you include UMass (and I would). There was one on the championship year: Stony Brook. There was one last year.

We’ve written this in this space from the jump: Temple has no business playing Stony Brook, Wagner, or Lafayette.

Ever. Period, end of story.

Next year, Norfolk State is on the schedule and, in 2026, Rhode Island is on the schedule.

Temple has no business playing those teams, either.

If Arthur Johnson wants to do something now that would benefit Temple football in the future, he would pick up the phone today and engineer a swap with Lafayette that would enable Temple to play a Power 5 school. “Hey, Lafayette, we are not here,” Johnson should say.

That won’t happen because the 2022 schedule is set in stone but Norfolk State and Rhode Island can be easily swapped for Power 5 opponents.

I’ve never understood Temple scheduling FCS teams. This is what I’ve been told: “Mike, we’ve got to schedule at least one FCS team every year in order to make a bowl game.”

Poppycock.

Nobody loves Temple going to bowl games more than me, but if Temple needs to schedule an FCS team in order to make a bowl game, just drop football already.

Temple, one of the great universities in the country, should be able to find six FBS schools out of 130 to beat every year or just give it up. I would argue Temple needs to find at least eight FBS teams out of 130 it can beat every year.

The No. 1 priority for Temple is not to get into one of those two superconferences, the SEC or the Big 10, but maybe get into what is left over, like the remnants of the Big 12 or, better yet, the ACC. In light of Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC and UCLA and USC going to the Big 10, chaos is the likely result.

Maybe Clemson to the SEC as well causes more dominoes to fall.

Chaos is Temple’s friend. Maybe in a couple of years Temple could be to the ACC what UAB and Rice were to the AAC this year, a viable backup plan.

Beating Maryland, 38-7, 35-14 and 20-17–all things Temple did in the last decade–moved the needle in that direction more than the AAC champions beating Stony Brook, 38-0, did.

Put it this way: The 2016 AAC champion Temple Owls lost by a touchdown, 34-27, at Big 10 champion Penn State and perhaps the only reason for that is the Owls had 134 yards in penalties and two touchdowns called back by questionable holding calls.

Just for giggles, had a G5 conference champion, Temple, beaten that P5 conference champion, Penn State and, instead of a 97-degree afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field that proved to be a wasted three hours against Stony Brook traveled to, for sake of argument, Auburn and beating the Tigers, Temple would have had almost a virtual lock on the first G5 spot in the Final Four.

That would have moved the needle much farther along than it is now and maybe Temple would have jumped Cincinnati–a team it had beaten four-straight times through 2018–into the P5.

That competitive game against UCLA a dozen years ago now seems a century away. So does the one-touchdown loss in 2016 on the road against the Big 10 champion.

Temple can fix it by playing the best and beating the best going forward.

It has nothing to lose by trying.

Monday: The Honeymooners

In lieu of no press conference, we have this …

Temple employee caught both watching the clock and punching out early.

In lieu of no press conference coverage, a couple of housekeeping things will be covered in today’s post.

We really thought there was a 50/50 shot of Temple firing Rod Carey in a Monday noon press conference so not having one to write about is both disappointing and discouraging. Temple is moving at a snail’s pace on this important issue and, while disheartening, not surprising given Temple’s history.

This school doesn’t know how to fire a coach it seems.

So a couple of other topics to discuss.

One of the drawbacks of putting yourself out in a public space like this one is that people can accuse you of everything under the sun and have zero evidence to prove it.

Let’s just take a couple of things we were accused of last week.

One, that I called for Temple to drop down to the Patriot League in my last post.

(No, that was Fizzy.)

Two, I championed Rod Carey as head coach BEFORE he got the Temple job.

(No, I wanted Chris Creighton, Neal Brown and Lance Leipold.)

Of course, none of these people ever doing the accusing have the receipts.

We do.

This was the first paragraph that appeared last week:

  “EDITOR’S NOTE:     The following is Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub’s take on the current Temple football situation. (Aside: I could not disagree more with almost all of this but will hold off on my reasoning until after other posters react.) Since Fizzy is a loyal Owl and former player, I will defend his right to say this. ” _ Temple Football Forever, Nov. 1, 2021

“I could not disagree more with almost all of this … “

In what world is that an endorsement from me for Temple to drop to the Patriot League?

First, Temple should not go to the Patriot League nor should it play games at Franklin Field. That’s returning to the bad old days. When you’ve had fans who have seen Heaven, they won’t pick Hell as an alternative. Temple in the Patriot League or playing at Franklin Field wouldn’t draw flies nor could Temple attract good coaches or players for that slop.

“He tweeted out Doug Pederson would be a home run hire” was a criticism of this. Err, outside-the-box doesn’t mean home run. For the record, Al Golden=HR; Gabe Infante=Stand up triple; Gary Patterson=double high off the wall; Pederson=line drive single to right; Rod Carey=strikeout.

The problem with Temple is not the players. When Temple has a great coach (Wayne Hardin, Al Golden, Matt Rhule), it does extremely well with some very good teams. One of those teams will be honored at Saturday’s Houston game (noon, ESPN+), the 2009 Eagle Bank Bowl squad. Rhule had consecutive 10-win seasons. Even with mediocre coaches like Steve Addazio and Geoff Collins, Temple was able to win bowl games. Low key, Bruce Arians may have done the most remarkable job of all of them–two six-win seasons against two Top 10 schedules. To put that in perspective, Temple has not played a schedule any tougher than No. 74 since Golden arrived on campus 16 years ago. The 2016 Matt Rhule championship team played against the No. 87-toughest schedule in the country. Arians had no facilities compared to the teams he had to face.

So instead of getting a new league, it would seem to me the solution would be getting a great coach and returning to the Temple TUFF mentality of Golden and Rhule. There’s no way you can convince me that Al Golden would want the UCONN job over the Temple job, so not moving fast to get rid of Carey is really costing Temple the opportunity of plugging Golden back in here–if that’s what they want to do. Why not give yourself that option?

Second, this is the only thing I said about Carey BEFORE he got the Temple job (and here is the complete link to that story):

Another named mentioned on Sunday, Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey, would be nowhere near as attractive as Leipold. Kraft played offensive line at Indiana. Carey played center at the same school. No doubt in my mind they know each other and that might have something to do with it. Geez, wish Pat played with Leipold because Carey is 0-6 in bowl games.” _ Temple Football Forever, Jan. 7, 2019

Of course, none of these people will ever correct the record so we have to do that here.

AFTER he got the job, I supported him only because I wanted him to win. The first time I realized it wouldn’t work out was the 55-13 loss to North Carolina in the Military Bowl and we wrote this that day. That came in the same year Temple lost to UCF, 63-21, and SMU, 45-21. That was stunning because in the decade previous Temple did not have a single year with three blowouts like that.

It has spiraled out of control since then, and while all the signals we are receiving say the administration has heard and gets it, the proof is doing something about it and yesterday may have been too late.

Waiting even one more day is postponing a needed housekeeping job on a messy front porch. Not only are the neighbors noticing, but so is the entire college football world.

Friday: Houston Temple Right and Wrong

Sunday: Game Analysis

Tuesday: Talking to Himself

(A firing press conference would change this schedule, of course)

BC-Temple: So many story lines, so little time

Saturday’s big question will be if Kraft’s feet can actually leave the ground on a BC touchdown

If you are walking around Lot K tomorrow, like I will be, you can be excused about having the feeling of de ja vu.

Shooting the breeze with Pat Kraft about football?

Check.

Walking around the Lot and seeing the affable family and friends of Khris Banks and Isaiah Graham-Mobley?

Check.

Shaking hands before the game with Boomer (Aaron Boumerhi)?

Check.

Been there, done that.

The last time many thousands of Temple fans saw the team this was the collective look after a 55-13 loss to an ACC team. Maybe these Owls can produce a smile around 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

Except for them being the good guys, they are now the bad guys.

How did the world ever turn upside down?

Welcome to college football, 2021.

In a perfect world, the good guys would stay the good guys and the bad guys would stay the bad ones.

Whatever you feel about Kraft, the current AD at Boston College and the former one at Temple, I don’t remember a single athletic director not named Gavin White who you could walk up to and get an HONEST opinion about the game of football from.

This exchange between me and Pat in Lot K circa Geoff Collins and Dave Patenaude comes to mind:

Me: “Pat, you’re going to have to talk to Geoff about Patenaude. I have no idea what he’s doing.”

Pat: “Mike, you and me both. He’s got me scratching my head every week.”

Most athletic directors would shrug their shoulders and say that’s the head coaches bailiwick.

This guy was an honest, good, man. He still is.

For the first time in two years, this beautiful tradition returns tomorrow.

When Kraft hired Manny Diaz to replace Collins at Temple, I screamed bloody murder in this space. I wrote then that Diaz, who was the son of the ex-Mayor of Miami, would be gone as soon as Mark Richt left.

I thought it would be a year or so.

Little did I know it would be 18 days.

Kraft never held it against me. He respected my opinion.

Now seeing what Diaz has done with Miami talent, I know Temple has dodged a huge bullet.

When he hired Rod Carey, I wrote that I thought Buffalo’s Lance Leipold or Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton might have been a better choice but, if Rod beats Boston College on Saturday (and I pray he will), Kraft might ironically be responsible for an embarrassing BC loss. I was for Leipold and Creighton because they did more with less than Carey did but Carey beating’s BC’s butt will prove my sorry ass wrong.

And, ironically, Pat Kraft right.

Geez, I hope so.

Hope doesn’t get me the AAC title or even a bowl game so I think BC will win this one and the 16-point spread sounds about right. The last time we saw Carey coach against an ACC team turned into a 55-13 loss and a lot of Temple fans walking out of the stadium disgusted.

The caveat there is we saw some life with the Owls last week.

The Owls showed a pulse and a lot of Temple TUFF in a 45-24 win over Akron. They got a good pass rush from their Power 5 transfers and an ESPN highlight reel play from Wake Forest portal guy Manny Walker. Temple needs a big pass rush, solid run stoppage and the kind of turnover-free football from Justin Lynch they got last week. Keep D’Wan Mathis on the bench and have him regain his swag against Wagner next week. That’s my vote. Have Justin play four games and save his redshirt unless he Wally Pipps Mathis in a big win over BC.

Put it this way: Temple had five turnovers in a 61-14 Week One loss and zero turnovers in a 45-24 win a week ago.

Football ain’t rocket science. It never was. Protect the football, rush the bad guys’ quarterback, win the damn game.

Whatever happens, it will be good to see Temple fans cheering the Owls and singing “T for Temple U” after every touchdown again. Temple drew 69,176 fans for its 2015 home opener, 35,004 fans or its 2016 opener and 35,117 for its 2017 home opener. It won two of those three games and attendance for the rest of the season suffered because of its shocking home opening loss to Army in 2016 and soared after wins the other two opening games. Win this one and the fans will keep coming back.

For once, it would be nice if the good guys would show the bad guys they made the wrong choice.

Picks this week: TULANE plus 14.5 at Ole Miss (Tulane gave Oklahoma all it wanted and Okie is better than Ole Miss); WYOMING -6.5 vs. Ball State; NORTHWESTERN -2.5 at Duke; TULSA +27.5 at The Ohio State; PURDUE +7.5 at Notre Dame (Purdue is considerably better than the Toledo and FSU teams ND beat and already has a win over a decent Oregon State squad); MICHIGAN STATE +6.5 at Miami. I think Purdue not only covers but wins the game outright, something on the order of 24-21.

9/21 update: Tulane let me down, but Wyoming easily covered, Northwestern lost, Tulsa covered, Purdue lost and Michigan State not only covered but won outright. So so far for the season 7-4-1 against the spread.

9/17 Update: Last week, predicted Pitt by five (it won by 7), Purdue 51-0 (it won 49-0), NIU by 4 (it lost by seven, a push) Nebraska by four (it won by 25), App. State by 3 (it lost by two) and BYU by one (it both won and covered).

Season to date: 4-2 straight up, 4-1-1 ATS

Sunday: Game Analysis

Monday: The Temple Curse

Pat Kraft Post-Mortem: Amiable

patkraft

Back in the day while working in the sports department of the Doylestown Intelligencer,  a column accompanied forecasting the weekend’s high school football games and an adjective attached to my name piqued my curiosity.

Lou Sessinger, then a wordsmith for the op-ed page  whose turn it was that week to write the column, turned this phrase when coming to talking about me in the piece: “the amiable Mike Gibson picks CB West to beat North Penn, CB East to beat Souderton and Quakertown to upset Upper Merion.”

Penn State v Temple

Pat Kraft (with tie) on the way down from setting the athletic director vertical leap record at Temple in a 27-10 win over Penn State.

Hmm. Not used to people writing nice things about me in print, I was fascinated by the adjective.

The only thing I knew about amiable was that it meant something good so I scrambled for my pocket Merriam-Webster dictionary.

“Friendly, sociable, and congenial.

I thought about the word last week when Pat Kraft left Temple for Boston College. He was competent enough for most but, for me, his legacy will be how amiable he was.

Was he the best athletic director ever at Temple?

photo

From a football standpoint, and that’s what we care about here, I would think you have to rate Bill Bradshaw and Ernie Casale above him. Bradshaw hired both Al Golden and Matt Rhule (and, to be fair, Steve Addazio) and signed contracts with Power 5 schools like Penn State and Notre Dame that were beneficial to Temple. Unlike Kraft, Bradshaw eschewed a formula that included multiple FCS opponents for a more Power 5 lean.

Casale hired one of the best head coaches in the country, Wayne Hardin, to bring the Owls from essentially an FCS status to national prominence. He was such a mover and shaker that he formed what was then the East Coast Conference (which the press dubbed the ECC or Ernie Casale Conference).

Both of those guys were amiable enough but Kraft took amiability to another level. He sought out fans, gave his opinion, listened to theirs, and was friendly to everyone.

“Friendly, sociable, and congenial.

That was Pat Kraft at Temple and I’m sure it will be Pat Kraft at Boston College.

I would talk to Pat a few times every year and would come away more impressed each time about his knowledge of football and commitment to excellence. We disagreed on the schedule, but it was a friendly disagreement.

What we did agree on was a commitment to excellence. One football Saturday morning I congratulated him on firing a men’s soccer coach who hovered for a decade around .500.

“That’s mediocre,” Pat said. “I’m never going to accept mediocrity at Temple.”

If he brings that level of acceptance to BC along with his natural amiability, that school should be in good shape.

Saturday: Some Early Stat Predictions

 

An interview primer for TU’s next AD

zamani

This could be Temple after winning the Cotton Bowl under the next AD. (Photo courtesy of Zamani Feelings.)

Because Pat Kraft agreed to remain on at Temple until July 1 to ease the transition in the athletic department at Temple University, the Board of Trustees now has some time to get the right fit for its next sports steward.

Let’s hope it’s put to good use.

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 9.36.12 PM

UAB athletic director Mark Ingram could be THE GUY for Temple.

Simply, the next AD has to be one to sell the BOT that the vision of Temple University is to join the other 64 great universities in the Power 5.

Playing Wagner, Lafayette, Rhode Island and Norfolk State in football is blurring that vision and not providing the right prescription for 2020 and beyond.

That’s why this interview process is the most important one. Asking the right questions and getting the right answers so here is how that process could go. THE GUY will be able to provide those answers.

BOT: I’ve heard you want the job. Sell us on why you are the guy.

THE GUY: Temple belongs in the top 65, not the bottom 65, and everything I’m going to do is designed to get us there. First, while I know Pat and like Pat, I’m was and always will be against playing the Stony Brooks and the Bucknells and I let him know that.

BOT: Why?

THE GUY: Let me give you an example. In 2016, we won the AAC and probably should have been in the Cotton Bowl but Western Michigan got that spot. If, say, instead of beating Stony Brook 38-0 at home that year, we win at Florida State, 35-14, we’d probably get that Cotton Bowl. Since we gave Penn State a better game on the road that year than Wisconsin did in the Big 10 title game at a neutral site, we probably had a decent chance at winning the Cotton Bowl. That’s one thing.

BOT: What’s the other?

THE GUY: The other is what happens in the future if we strike lightning in the bottle and go 12-0. If a couple of those 12 are Lafayette and Rhode Island, we have no shot at the college football playoff. The first thing I’m going to do is get out of those types of contracts, have one less home game and start picking up 2-for-1s with P5 schools. That’s going to benefit us in the long run. If we substitute two road P5 wins for those FCS wins, we become the first G5 team invited to the four-team playoff. Say, instead of beating Rhode Island, 59-0, and Lafayette, 55-12, we go to Indiana and beat Purdue, 30-19 and take down Washington State, 23-18, in Pullman, that’s the difference.

BOT: Why does that benefit us?

THE GUY: Our attendance goes up from a 28,000 average to nearly 50K and our TV ratings in the largest available market to the Power 5 also doubles. When the next round of expansion comes in 2023, we get invited and the rest of the G5 becomes marginalized and forced to have their own championship, a minor league of college football. Temple in my mind is not minor league nor should it be in yours. We have a small opening in that window and I’m going to pry open that window for us and get us all to the other side.

BOT: Gentlemen, as Bill Bradshaw wrote on that yellow legal pad some 15 years ago, this is our guy. Congratulations, Mark, you start on July 2.

Monday: The Kraft Post-Mortem

Saturday: Some Early Stat Predictions

Monday (6/15): A special addition

Saturday (6/20): A sad subtraction

Monday: (6/22): How other AAC approach schedules

Saturday (6/27): Drop Dead Date

Comparing seasons: A soft 8-5

 

In the entire modern history of Temple football, the Owls have had eight seasons similar to the one they had in 2019.

The most similar one was the same 8-5 the Owls posted in the previous year, but the Owls also had a 9-4 season in 2011, an 8-4 season in 2010, a 9-4 season in 2009 and a 7-4 season in 1990.

The difference is a stark one.

armsteadcherry

For Temple to be really successful in 2020, Rod Carey will have to put the ball in Ray Davis’ hands as much as Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins did with Ryquell Armstead

In none of those other seasons did the Owls suffer three blowout losses like they did in 2019. To me, despite the two wins over then top 25 teams, that’s a soft 8-5.

If Pat Kraft pulled Rod Carey into his office for a year-end review like most of us people in regular jobs have, that’s the one criticism he should have of his old Indiana football buddy.

“Rod, great job beating two top 25 teams but you’ve got to cut that blowout shit out.”

Somehow, though, I think Rod-with a $10 million buyout–is on cruise control at Temple and Kraft is offering no year-end reviews.

Take what Geoff Collins did vs. Carey in comparison. In my mind, Carey still retains bragging rights against Mr. Mayhem because he beat Collins Power 5 team with Group of Five talent, 24-2. If that changes this season in Atlanta, though, that all goes out the window.

Screenshot 2020-03-26 at 11.12.30 PM

Today is our 11th anniversary on wordpress after switching from blogspot

Still, the Apples vs. Apples comparison–Temple talent under Collins vs. Temple talent under Carey–has to objectively go to Collins and that comes from a guy who was a lot tougher on Collins and his offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude than I ever was on Carey and Mike Uremovich.

Here’s why: Collins’ 8-5 season was way more competitive in the five losses than Carey’s 8-5 season was. Collins’ team led, 34-26, at halftime against a top 10 team on the road, UCF, before falling, 52-40. Carey’s team lost at home to the same talent, 63-21.

Carey also lost head-scratchers at SMU (45-21) and to a 6-6 UNC team (55-13). In both games, Temple was a 6.5-point underdog. It wasn’t just me that saw Temple as the underperforming team, it was the nation.

Our reasons have been chronicled in this space until our faces have turned Jadan Blue. Temple has been a run-first team under previous coaches and the Owls used their toughness along the offensive line and in the run game to extend opponents into the fourth quarter. Carey bringing a RPO to Temple from NIU has needlessly opened areas for the bad guys to exploit and run away from Temple. Nothing would open passing lanes for All-American potential receivers like Blue and Branden Mack than a strong running game led by Ray Davis. Nothing makes those passing windows tighter than a passive commitment to the run.

We posted these same criticisms of Matt Rhule after his first two RPO years and he was flexible enough to change his style and increase his pay from $2.4 million per year in his final contract at Temple to $4.7 at Baylor and $6.3 at Carolina.

So far, Matt hasn’t cut us a residual check and we don’t want one.

All we want is for Temple to get back to being Temple. Run first, extend the game into the fourth quarter and not be embarrassed in losses. If Carey gets a pay raise for returning the Temple brand, we will kiss his ass incessantly and thank him without expecting anyting  in return.

If he’s too stubborn to change, he will never be successful here but a lot of 6-6 seasons will keep him around for a decade or so and pay him comfortably because Temple never fires mediocre coaches. To me, that’s not good enough.

Temple should always strive for excellence and reject medicority the same way it rejected failure more than a decade ago.

Monday: Another kick in the nuts to the G5

Wednesday: An April Anthology

Friday: Is That All There is?

Rod Carey Hire: More Steak Than Sizzle

niu

Rod Carey celebrates the 2018 MAC title win over Buffalo one month ago.

One of my tailgate friends, a former Temple lineman named Ray “Big Cat” Haynes, had this selfie reaction shaking his head after watching his beloved Owls lose to Villanova a few months ago:

“What did I just see?”

Followed quickly by another selfie with this remark:

“I’ve seen the sizzle. I want the steak.”

done

Sizzle was all the accompanying window dressing Haynes saw during the game–like Money Down signs–steak was a win over a crosstown foe Temple needed so desperately to have that afternoon. The Owls were embarrassingly outcoached by Villanova and not a single Temple fan was happy that night.

With Temple hiring Rod Carey, the Owls get steak after a couple years of sizzle. He wasn’t my first choice (Chris Creighton of Eastern Michigan) or my second (Lance Leipold of Buffalo) but he definitely is a less-risky pick than any Power 5 coordinator out there. Even the guy who might have finished second, former Maryland head coach Matt Canada, got killed by Geoff Collins and Temple and that would have been a harder sell than Leipold, who actually did beat Collins and Temple.

happily

There were a lot of balls in the air that made this a difficult hire for Dr. Pat Kraft, the Temple AD. The disastrous hire of Manny Diaz left Kraft with three contracts to honor, then interim head coach Ed Foley, current interim HC Fran Brown and one of LB coach Gabe Infante. It might have been he could only get his fellow Indiana alumnus, Carey, to bail him out and agree to take those three onto the staff. We may never know but we do know those spots are guaranteed.

niuchamp

Hmm. Carey does something the great Geoff Collins was unable to, beat Buffalo

What we do know is the Owls are getting a ready-made FBS winning head coach for the first time since hiring Wayne Hardin in 1970 and that worked out pretty well (80-50-2). We also know that Temple is now Indiana East with 2000 grad Kraft and HC Carey (Class of 2003). Temple Chief Financial Officer Kevin Clark also served at Indiana in the same office of former Temple President Neal Theobald, who was CFO in Bloomington before taking the job as President of Temple University.

Carey is the most successful, in terms of winning percentage, head coach to be hired by Temple since the legendary Pop Warner in 1933. Temple followed the same formula by hiring Wayne Hardin in 1970 but abandoned it until now.

pophead

Temple’s best two football eras came by hiring guys who were successful head coaches at other big-time programs, as witnessed by the BOT’s putting their money where their mouths were here to hire Pop Warner.

College football is a little different now than it was then, and Hardin’s Navy record (38-22-2) was more impressive than Rod Carey’s 52-30 mark because it came against a higher level of competition. Hardin won a major bowl game and had Navy ranked as high as No. 2 once. That’s like present-day Temple hiring a current Power 5 coach who had his team ranked No. 2. Even though the Owls got a $6.5 million buyout windfall recently, the landscape of college football is not going to allow for a school like Temple to hire a Nick Saban or a Dabo Sweeney.

Temple now has the money to do what Power 5 schools almost exclusively do, though, hire successful FBS head coaches.

It says a lot about how far the Owls have come in that they are able to get an accomplished head coach rather than roll the dice on another unproven assistant. Mostly, they’ve been lucky enough to keep their heads above water since following the Al Golden model in 2005.

redacted

Golden did a superb job reviving the patient with CPR and left after nine- and eight-win seasons. The university then handed over the reins to Florida OC Steve Addazio, who used the Golden talent to go 9-4 with a bowl win. Temple dodged a bullet, though, when Boston College took Daz off Temple’s hands after a 4-7 season.

Then came Matt Rhule and a two-win learning curve season (with arguably six-win talent) and sizzle-more-than-steak Geoff Collins (15-10 a lot of learning curve losses and a subpar mostly FCS-level staff).

Now comes the steak of Carey and a more FBS-level staff. Only time will tell if it’s well-done but at least the chef has cooked something that tasted pretty good before.

Monday: The Presser

Wednesday: What Foley and Brown Should Be Telling Carey

Friday:  Coordinators and First-Year Losses

Monday (1/21): 5 Things We Won’t Miss About Mayhem

Wednesday (1/23): The No. 1 Recruiting Priority

Could 2019 Be The One?

leipold

Could this actually be THE one?

The first season since Wayne Hardin was on campus that Temple actually won every game it was favored to be in plus a couple it was not?


Nobody knows if Lance
Leipold will be in it,
but he’s got to have a
better handle on the
Owls than any other
outside candidate since
he studied enough film
on the 2018 version
to beat them

A lot will depend on which candidate wins the interview room for the Owls’ head coaching position in the next couple of days. Nobody knows if Lance Leipold will be in it, but he’s got to have a better handle on the Owls than any other outside candidate since he studied enough film on the 2018 version to beat them.

Leipold might have also watched the bowl game. He probably did.

From what I hear, he probably won’t be in the interview room in the next few days. From what I know, he definitely should. There is still time to get the right guy and not settle for second best.

If the Owls do, this year’s team has a chance of lifting the AAC title trophy. They will have to win every game they are favored to win and reach up and get a game or two they are not to accomplish that task.

One way to do it is to bring in a binder, like Al Golden did to Bill Bradshaw’s office in 2005, on how to build a program. What was in the binder made so much sense that Bradshaw wrote on a yellow legal pad:

“This is our guy.”

Now the binder isn’t how to build the program but how to add a wing onto it.

patkraft

“This is our guy”

The last guy who had this kind of chance to win a championship in his first year was Steve Addazio and, when you really think about it, it’s hard to fathom how the 2011 Owls did not win a league title. Addazio never figured out until too late–the game against Ohio–that Chris Coyer was the best quarterback on his roster. Had Coyer played from the jump, instead of Chester Stewart and Mike Gerardi, the Owls likely would have beaten Penn State (a game they lost, 14-10), Bowling Green and Ohio, won the league title and played another Big 10 team in the bowl game. (Coyer, in relief of Stewart, did all he could to beat Ohio with a superb three-quarter performance but Stewart left the Owls in a hole.)
surprise

And, of course, we would have never had to endure the unendurable Year Two of the Addazio regime because someone would have plucked Daz away before the bowl game and Chuck Heater, not Ed Foley, would have been the bowl coach.

Instead, Coyer became the first Owl quarterback to win a bowl game in over 30 years.

Now the next coach has a chance to wow the interview room like Golden did.

The guy who does might say something like this:

“Geez, I saw youse guys (Philly accent) against Duke and I really liked that kickoff returner you had. He needs to get the ball more than five times a game so I would move him to tailback because it was obvious youse guys missed Rock (use the nickname) Armstead. He can be the best breakaway back in the league next year. I’d put that No. 5 (Shaun Bradley) in at fullback and have Wright follow him through the hole 20 times a game because youse have plenty of good linebackers. I don’t know who your offensive coordinator was last year because Russo is no more a RPO quarterback than Tom Brady is. Why your OC would risk getting him killed last year made no sense to me. Make the most of that NFL arm going play-action pro set and hitting those two guys, No. 88 and No. 10.”

“What about defense and special teams?”

“I’m going to hand that over to the best special teams’ coach in the country, Ed Foley, and make Fran Brown the single (not co) coordinator in defense. No Mayhem. Just no scoring. We’re going to try to break the Temple record for most shutouts in a season.”

“Thanks for coming, Lance,” AD Pat Kraft tells the committee.

Candidate walks out of the room and Kraft holds up a yellow legal pad with four words underlined:

“THIS IS OUR GUY!

Tomorrow: Bullbleep Meter and The Temple Job

Friday: Smoking Out The Winner

 

Temple Dodges Bullets, Artillery and Hand Grenades

kraft

Pat Kraft just might take a team to Maryland and beat that squad, like his predecessor, Bill Bradshaw, did.

 

Watching Temple athletic director Pat Kraft address the crowd at the football season ticket-holder party, one thought popped up in my head.

“Boy, did he dodge a bullet.”

At least that’s what I leaned over and told my long-time tailgate friend, Nick (we go way back to Veterans Stadium) when Kraft had the microphone.

Instead of talking about 3.0 GPAs and possible 13.0 football records, Kraft could have had his hands in the Maryland dumpster helping to clean out the stink around that program.

Kraft finished second in the contest with the ultimate prize being Maryland athletic director. That brings to mind the old joke about Cleveland. First prize is an all-expense-paid week’s vacation in Cleveland; second prize is two weeks in Cleveland.

All things considered, Kraft probably would prefer to be in Philadelphia now.

departure

BC did Temple a huge favor by taking Steve Addazio off its hands

 

Of course, Kraft did not know the depth of the problem when he applied but the details released after he did not get the job were surly enough. Strength coach was fired for circumstances involving the death of a player and head football coach D.J. Durkin might not survive an internal review.

That was not the first time Temple dodged military ordinance as Jerry Sandusky was once considered for a post that went to another Jerry (Berndt) instead after Bruce Arians was wrongly fired. That was a nuclear-type bomb that would have destroyed the program if he had been hired. Jerry Berndt was just a bad coach. Jerry Sandusky was a very bad person. Big difference.

Temple football dodged some other ordinance when Steve Addazio left after a 4-7 season on his own. By then, Temple fans knew the deal. Daz would pass only on third downs after getting about four yards running on first- and second-down running plays. It got so bad that season that late in the first half of this agonizing play-calling pattern in a home loss to Maryland, over 24,000 Temple fans chanted in loud unison: “Throw the ball. .. Throw the ball. … “

zachary

I had never seen that at a Temple game before. They say Philadelphia football fans are knowledgeable and that Saturday afternoon helped prove it. Four and seven wasn’t going to get Daz fired at Temple if 1-11 seasons didn’t get Bobby Wallace, Ron Dickerson and Berndt fired before him so BC did the Owls a favor by taking Daz off their hands.

One of Daz’s assistants was Zach Smith (right photo), who left Temple the year prior for a job at Ohio State. Smith, an alleged wife-beater, is in the process of bringing that Big 10 program down.

That could have been us. Seeing Kraft up there on Wednesday night reminds us of how lucky both he and we are.

Wednesday: Taking A Bullet

Friday: Coalescing a Depth Chart

Monday: Camp Phenoms