Kareem Ali Really Temple Made

Colin Thompson and Kareem Ali are the newest Owls.

Colin Thompson and Kareem Ali are the newest Owls.

Any time I get off the SEPTA Regional rail at Temple University station, which is quite often, I get to see an anonymous person with a painted Cherry and White face with glasses staring at me with the words “Temple Made” above his head.

Temple football now boasts of  ultimate “Temple Made” person soon to be on its roster, Kareem Ali. According to this great story by Matt Vender, Ali was conceived at Temple. He’s the first documented person to be literally Temple Made–though I’m sure there are a few undocumented ones.

Now he’s going to do his part to make Temple football a Made Man in the college football world.

When Al Golden was at Temple, he had a binder on how to build a program from the ground up and one of the chapters in it was recruiting. “Trust the film,” Golden would always say.

Golden was not bashful about his philosophy of recruiting. He believed that the key of going from the worst program in major college football to winning a non-BCS conference title like the MAC was getting a whole bunch of team leaders, captains of their high school teams from winning programs, then reaching up and grabbing as many as five guys every year who were offered by BCS programs. Golden never got a chance to win the MAC, but I believe he was only a year or two away when he left to go to Miami (Fla.)

Golden had a great school to sell, Temple, and he was a great salesman who was able to lure guys like Kee-Ayre Griffin away from Boston College and Adrian Robinson away from Pitt. Those guys helped fuel three consecutive winning seasons at Temple. When I dashed off an email congratulating Al on his first recruiting class, Al dashed one back: “Mike, we’re not done yet. We’re waiting on a guy from St. Peter’s Prep who could be our best recruit. Wish us luck.”

Griffin was that guy, the last recruit of Golden’s first-ever class and the first of five good recruiting chapters.

It now appears that Matt Rhule has memorized that chapter.

One day after getting Kareem Ali to de-commit from Maryland (Big 10), he got Colin Thompson to transfer from Florida (SEC).

I had been somewhat concerned last week that the Owls offered a guy who had only been offered by Duquesne, Coastal Carolina and St. Francis of Loretto but the recent additions of Ali and Thompson put the Owls back on the right recruiting track. You are going to need a lot of guys like Ali and Thompson to win an AAC title and, if they can convince guys like Shareef Miller to come on board, it won’t be long before the Owls are hoisting a trophy soon.

Mix those three guys with a couple more similar players, stir in a few high school captains from winning programs, trust the film, always call a quarterback sneak on fourth and three inches, bake and watch a championship team rise. At least that’s the fervent hope.

Temple Football: Just How Good Is Recruiting?

Shareef Miller, Temple football,

Adding Shareef Miller could be the domino that moves Temple football recruiting from good to great

Social media is a great tool to follow college football recruiting and, if you have been following twitter in the past few days, there has been a significant buzz regarding Temple football.

Some of the top recruits not only in the region are seriously talking about committing to the Owls and if that gets done, head coach Matt Rhule will be in better position to do what he was  brought in to do—win games.

Because for all the buzz surrounding Rhule’s second recruiting class, it was still ranked behind Steve Addazio’s 2012 class nationally and the second-best recruiting class in Temple history. It was still ranked No. 4 in the AAC—impressive for a 2-10 school but maybe not good enough to get the job done.

If some the people mentioning Temple on their twitter feeds—most notably George Washington High School’s Shareef Miller—make an early commitment to the school, they can be the Pied Piper leading other four- and five-star recruits to the Philadelphia school.

I’ve always thought that Temple could become the new U (like Miami of Florida became), enticing urban talent to stay home and build something new and exciting, just like the Florida kids did for the Hurricanes.

But it has got to turn from talk in the newspaper article here into reality.

Plus, if you go from a national championship staff at Florida (offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, quarterbacks’ coach Scot Loeffler)  to guys Rhule hired from Tennessee Chattanooga  (Marcus Satterfield)  and Eastern Michigan (Phil Snow), the game day credibility just doesn’t measure up. We all saw what happened on game day last year and it was not pretty.

Daz had his faults, but no one with a shred of credibility can say his 2011 staff was less qualified than Rhule’s 2014 staff.

I’ll never forget what John Palumbo told his father after Daz’s first spring camp: “Dad, I thought Golden was good but these guys from Florida are big-time SEC coaches and it is not even close.”

Until Matt Rhule wins on a consistent basis, it will stay that far apart. Getting some four- and five-star recruits in here might begin to make a difference but until these guys sign on the dotted line, it’s just talk.

The earlier talk the talk becomes walk the walk the better. All it takes is one guy. He might already be here, too.

Lew Katz: Winner and Still Champion

Yankee Stadium's tribute          Sunday to Lewis Katz, part owner of the YES Network.

Yankee Stadium’s tribute Sunday to Lewis Katz, part owner of the YES Network.

For someone I never met, I felt I knew Lew Katz very well.

At least well enough to call him Lew.

Four days after Dr. Peter Chodoff sat in his folding chair at Lincoln Financial Field and said to me, “Mike, I think you have a first-class blog” I got the same message in an email from Lew Katz: “Mike, I think you have a first-class blog. Keep up the good work and go Owls—Lew.”

Now I don’t know if that was just a heckuva coincidence or Dr. Pete and Lew talked, but I could not have been more flattered.

If there were ever two champions of Temple football during the darkest of dark times, it was Pete and Lew.

I guess you could add the late  great Howard Gittis, who, as Board of Trustees’ chairman, thwarted every effort by then President David Adamany to drop football at Temple University.

Gittis, thankfully, was Adamany’s boss. When Gittis said jump, Adamany said: “How High?”

Gittis said he was not dropping football on his watch and fortunately he had allies in Katz and Chodoff. If he had not had those allies, Temple University would be NYU–a university in a big city without football.

That was only one of two emails I ever received from Lew Katz. The other one was steering me in the right direction toward my coverage of Temple joining the Big East on March 7, 2012. He then said he knew I worked at The Inquirer and asked me for my thoughts on how to improve the paper. I told him you cannot do wrong by going local, local, local and he said he felt the same way. He wasn’t very active on Facebook (and probably had too much else to do), but he did extend a friend request that I eagerly accepted.  I am proud to have been one of his 351 Facebook friends.  I’m sure he had 10x more “real”  friends.

I then invited him to join our tailgates and he never did, but I knew he would eventually. I know he was proud of the way the Temple tailgate scene exploded during the Al Golden and Steve Addazio years. When he said he was looking forward to “kicking Villanova’s ass” on the football field with the Villanova president in attendance, I could not have been prouder of a fellow TU graduate.

Lew Katz “got” Temple, the same way John Chaney, Wayne Hardin, Skip Wilson, Pete Chodoff and Bruce Arians “got” Temple.

Our in-person meeting was only a matter of time and time ran out on Saturday night/Sunday morning when he died in a tragic plane crash.

It was my loss, and more importantly, Temple’s. RIP, Lew.