On the first day of the New Year, some sanity was restored to college football when Grayson McCall reconsidered his decision to enter the transfer portal and announced he was returning to Coastal Carolina for what most likely will be his final college season.
Good for him. Good for college football.
Maybe sanity will be restored to the game. Maybe McCall’s story is an outlier.
That’s the big stuff in college football and the kind that you nor me nor really any college football fan can control. John Chaney used to have a phrase for it. “Control the known and don’t worry about the unknown,” he would say.
So with that in mind, I will leave the “big stuff” for the Presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners to sort out.
The overall theme of my New Year’s Resolutions is to enjoy the game as much as possible with four specific ones here:
Celebrate E. J. Warner: As good as Coastal Carolina fans have to feel about McCall coming back, Temple fans have to feel better about E.J. Warner, who stayed committed to Stan Drayton’s championship visions. The light bulb went on for Warner in the second half of the Navy game. Consider this: In his first five games, Warner averaged 206 yards. Including Navy, he averaged 358.4 yards a game in his final six and that’s even with a season-low 167 against Cincinnati.
Recalibrate Expectations: Last year we thought if everything went right, the Owls would go 6-6 under Drayton the first year and challenge for a championship the next year. Pretty sure Drayton and Company are setting their sights on a championship this year (I’d be disappointed if they weren’t) but fans probably should be satisfied with 6-6.
Get Excited About the New Additions: With one of the top prep receivers in Florida joining the fold, as what one writer called the steal of the transfer portal in Dante Wright, the already good receiver room at Temple already has been upgraded. Amad Anderson had two of the greatest catches in Temple history in the second half of the season and he’s back as is the rapidly improved Zae Baines. Temple has the two best tight ends in the league in Jordan Smith and David Martin-Robinson. Also, on defense, I thought Tra Thomas was the best linebacker on the team when he went down with an injury against Rutgers but, since then, Layton Jordan and Jordan Magee took that standard and even bettered it.
Take One Game at a Time: The focus should be on winning the opener at home against Akron. But it’s OK if some time in the next eight months is given to game planning the next foe, Rutgers. The Owls were trending upward at the end of the season and Rutgers was spiraling downward. Temple was a 3d and 1 midfield quarterback sneak away from beating bowl champion East Carolina while Rutgers finished with a 37-0 whimper against Maryland.
If those trends continue through the offseason, the short trip up the turnpike should be fun again and coming back home 2-0 would go a long way toward filling the seats in the remaining home games.
Friday: Four to Score