Had to laugh the other day when I saw one reaction to Darian Varner leaving on a major Temple sports message board was:
“Next man up.”
Understandable sentiment but, err, no.
If in Varner’s case, the “next man” up is a Scout team defensive end who only is able to put a hand on a quarterback’s green jersey in practice, then that’s the best way to turn this year’s 3-9 season into a third-straight 3-9 season in 2023.
Varner was a guy who regularly threw down great AAC quarterbacks like Clayton Tune and Sean Henigan violently on a regular basis. You don’t replace him with a Scout team guy. You replace him with a Power 5 top-level recruit who wants a change of scenery.
There was a TV show in the 1970s called “Mission Impossible” that started every episode with a cassette tape to a CIA agent that blasted: “Your mission, if you chose to accept it …” blah blah blah for that week’s hour.
Stan Drayton already accepted the mission from Arthur Johnson a year ago.
“Keep the good guys and, in the event you lose a good guy, go get a better guy in the transfer portal.”
Tough job, but that’s why Temple is paying you $2.5 million a year.
One of the major reasons that got Rod Carey fired is that he was hated so much by his players that a great Temple quarterback, Anthony Russo, thought that being a backup at Michigan State was preferable to starting for Carey again. That led to Carey starting a guy from Georgia who had more interceptions than touchdown passes there. When he was injured prior to the Boston College game, Carey was then forced to start a true freshman, Justin Lynch, who clearly wasn’t ready for the speed of being a FBS starter.
That produced a whole three points in a 28-3 loss.
Think that Russo–throwing to Randle Jones and Jadan Blue–would have produced a whole lot more points than Lynch did?
Yeah, I do.
Twenty-nine points is certainly debatable but certainly was doable.
Next man up my ass.
That’s why the “Temple Football Signing Show” on ESPN+ will tell you more about Drayton’s future success at Temple than even the recently completed 3-9 season will.
Varner needs to be replaced, not by a high school guy, but with a P5 guy with a high upside (think Manny Walker from Wake Forest a couple of years ago). Hell, at this point, an established FCS star (not just starter) would be acceptable. UCLA picked up the best college defensive end in Philadelphia and, surprisingly, he never practiced at 10th and Diamond. Temple probably needs to look to FCS to replace Varner. Harvard DE Truman Jones (6-4, 200 pounds) probably tops the list of available FCS players. He was Co-Ivy Defensive Player of the year and probably would be able to handle the rigorous course load as a grad student at Temple. As of Friday morning, he’s currently still in the transfer portal. He has 13.5 career sacks and blocked four punts.
Temple had a putrid running game this season with leading rusher Edward Saydee only getting 629 yards. The Owls need to go out and get one of the current 17 uncommitted 1,000-yard rushers in the portal to either replace him or give him more competition than Darvon Hubbard did. Ball State’s Carson Steele is still available, as is Western Michigan’s Sean Tyler.
So far, all we’ve seen in the RB talk is a guy from FIU who had half the yards of Saydee for a far worse team than Temple. The reason is the flimsiest one yet. The current Temple Chief of Staff, Everett Withers, was the FIU defensive coordinator last year and a current Temple grad assistant was the RB coach at FIU last year.
That’s the lazy man’s way of recruiting.
That’s the way Texas Football Director of Operations Arthur Johnson hired Texas RB coach Stan Drayton to be Temple head coach.
If that trickles down to recruiting, it’s a bad sign.
The industrious way of recruiting is to go out and get on of those 1,000-yard backs who they “don’t know” but will advance the organization more than the comfortable pick.
If you watch next Wednesday’s show, keep that in mind. That will tell more about Drayton’s chances of future success than anything we’ve seen so far.
Monday: Double Digits