The Temple NFL Draft

toughness

About the only person who was not booed at the NFL Draft on Thursday night was from Temple University. The hometown Eagles’ pick was met with mixed boos and cheers, which was surprising. Picks of the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys were booed, as was the Commissioner, which was not.

Only Temple football was cheered, loudly and proudly.

In a city where Temple football has always been second fiddle to the pro team in town, that’s a tremendous moment.

Maybe the best.


“Temple TUFF is the
most elite, toughest,
hardest-working, people
on the planet.”
_ Haason Reddick

Haason Reddick, who was drafted No. 13 overall by the Arizona Cardinals, walked down the steps of the Art Museum to a crescendo of loud cheers and not a single boo.

Derek Barnett, the Tennessee defensive end who went next to the hometown team, was met with a scattering of boos and cheers. There were a lot of Eagles’ fans dressed in green exiting after that pick with thumbs down signs.

We’ll see what happens over the next few years but a writer could not have picked a better scenario for Reddick or a better place for him to flourish. Former Temple head coach Bruce Arians is in charge there and a couple of great former Temple assistants (Nick Rapone and Amos Jones) are among the numerous Owl connections out there.

There will be a lot of Temple stories, old and new, for Reddick to hear from and swap with the old heads.

Arians will take care of Reddick in a way that Doug Pederson could not have so, from the standpoint of a perfect fit, Reddick to Arizona is probably better than any other pick in the draft—even Myles Garrett to Cleveland at No. 1.

If Temple North is the New York Jets, then certainly Temple South is the Arizona Cardinals.

Temple Central will remain embedded in Reddick’s heart and he said it best when interviewed by Upper Dublin High School grad Suzie Kobler on ESPN when she asked him what Temple TUFF was all about. Kobler knows all about Temple having grown up across the street from Temple’s Ambler Campus.

“Temple TUFF is the most elite, toughest, hardest-working, people on the planet,” Reddick said.

Now it’s up to Geoff Collins to turn that quote and that moment into mining a 2017 recruiting class worthy of those words.

Reddick gave him a good head start with the unprecedented love.

Monday: The Other Guys

5 Takeaways From The Spring Game

A great moment for Temple football.

One of these days someone at the Philadelphia headquarters of Comcast is going to wise up about the Temple football spring game.

On Page 39 of Saturday’s Philadelphia Daily News, Notre Dame’s spring game was listed at 12:30 live on NBC Sports Network. Thumb down a little further at 3 p.m. and you can find the Penn State spring game live on BTN. Go down a little more and you can find the Rutgers’ spring game at 5 on the same network.


Matt Rhule stunted the
development of the program
in two ways, I think,
last year. One, was rather
obvious. Temple blew out
seven teams but P.J. Walker
played, for all practical
purposes, all of the downs.
Why, in God’s name, did Marchi
or Nutile not get significant
throws in those wins?

Yes, Rutgers, a football program that even sucks at cheating.

Meanwhile, at noon, when the Temple football spring game was kicking off the Philadelphia CSN channel was showing a Poker tournament.

Poker.

I guess the AAC will have to get their own network for the Temple spring game to ever be broadcast because Comcast figured Poker would have higher ratings in the nation’s fourth-largest market.

As the old Peter, Paul and Mary Song says, “When will they ever learn?”

Ironically, the best place to watch the Temple spring game on Saturday was on TV, roughly at 11th and Diamond. I tried going inside and standing on the back row of one of the stands. Between ducking under the umbrellas raised below me in an annoying persistent rain to see the plays, I gave up at halftime and watched on a big screen TV just outside Lot 10. (Greatness Doesn’t Quit beat Temple TUFF, 17-14.)

You could learn a lot watching that way and these were our five biggest takeaways:

centeio

Todd Centeio Is The Most Talented Quarterback In the Program

That doesn’t mean the true freshman should start, but it does give me a lot of confidence in the future. The kid has the “It” factor that I’m not sure all of the other three guys have, but he could certainly benefit from a redshirt year where he gets to spend a lot of time in two rooms—the weight room and the film room. I hope new head coach Geoff Collins doesn’t make the same mistake old coach Matt Rhule made with P.J.—burning the redshirt when Rhule had a perfectly good quarterback in Chris Coyer to hold down the fort. P.J. would have been starting at ND this fall in a more perfect world.

nutile

Frankie Juice is a Great Nickname

Frank Nutile (pronounced New Tile) had a nice game with a touchdown pass and a touchdown run, but I don’t think that separated him from either Logan Marchi or Anthony Russo. In fact, of the three, Russo’s 7-for-11 day was probably the best passing day and, if I were a betting man, I would put five bucks on Russo starting the Notre Dame game. All three players have a ways to go and that’s why I would not put 20 bucks on it. I wonder if Collins giving Nutile a sweet nickname (Frankie Juice) puts him ahead of everyone else in Collins’ eyes? We will find out by the first Saturday in September, but I would have liked to see one guy come away with a 25-for-32 day with 319 yards and three touchdowns.  That did not happen.

gardner

Jager Gardner is The Real Deal

Matt Rhule stunted the development of the program in two ways, I think, last year. One, was rather obvious. Temple blew out seven teams but P.J. Walker played, for all practical purposes, all of the downs. Why, in God’s name, did Marchi or Nutile not get significant throws in those wins? Probably for the same reason Gardner did not get a redshirt. Rhule knew he was outta here and used all of his available chips and overplayed the starters, thinking short-term, not long-term. Gardner getting only 27 carries all of last year was a complete joke and a wasted redshirt. Gardner will have a great year this year, as will Ryquell Armstead.

The Defense Will Be Great

Last year, “they” (pretty much the misinformed outside fans who don’t know anything about Temple football) said the Owls would take a step back due to losing three NFL draftees in Tyler Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis and Tavon Young. Those of us closer to the program knew better, said so beforehand, and were proven to be right. This year, the Temple defense, which has a single digit guy (Jacob Martin) starting at one DE and perhaps one of the best playmakers in Temple football history (Sharif Finch, five blocked punts, crucial interception against Christian Hackenberg) starting another, will be better if Taver Johnson can be the DC that Phil Snow was. The interior line is terrific (Michael Dogbe, Freddy Booth-Lloyd, Greg Webb and Karamo Dioubate) and will cause a lot of Mayhem this season. Cornerback Mike Jones went from being called the “late-round steal of the 2017 NFL draft” by Mike Mayock to Temple starter. Good move by Jones, who had an interception and a fumble recovery, and could move up to the third round or better in the 2018 NFL draft with a great year at Temple.

parents

Somebody get Collins a hat with a Temple ‘][‘ on it.

Who Will Be Punting?

For the first time in Cherry and White Game history, I never saw a punt return, a punt or a kickoff return. The last time I checked, you’ve got to do all of those things in a “real” game and it would have been nice for the kids to do that before the 4,000 or so fans who attended in the rain on Saturday. I suppose they will do it in the summer before nobody, then try it again before 80,000 at Notre Dame but that sets them up for a shellshock moment. Never forget Jim Cooper Jr., who never survived his opener at Notre Dame.

In short, unlike superfan Ted DeLapp, I’m not confident in winning at Notre Dame. However, I am very confident in this team kicking the living crap out of Villanova the next week and that will be the jump-start to anything from a 7-10-win season.

Hopefully, that’s good enough for a championship and a bowl win. Those two things might get next year’s spring game on TV.

Anything short and we’re looking at a lot of Poker faces.

Wednesday: Cherry and White Slideshow

Friday: The Temple NFL Draft

Monday: Poker Chips

Spring Game: What Are They Saying About The Owls

Every once in a while, a spring camp phenom bursts onto the scene and that is usually a term for baseball players who tear it up in the spring to make the club unexpectedly.

Spring’s second favorite sport—college football practice—also has a version of that.

Last year’s breakout star for Temple was a wide receiver named Marshall Ellick. Then head coach Matt Rhule said he had “five NFL scouts come to my practice on different days” and ask who Ellick was. Ellick caught a touchdown pass that could have impacted the Penn State game but it was called back due to a phantom block in the back called by (ironically enough) AAC refs on Dion Dawkins. Replays clearly showed Dawkins blocked his man on that touchdown legally on the side, not the back, but a hold like that is not reviewable.

baye

This is the “best” deal we’ve seen on Ebay for tickets. Drew Katz can afford it.

Ellick got injured after that and we have not heard much about him this spring, although it is very possible he will be a major contributor in the fall.

Chances are after Saturday’s Cherry and White game, we will have our own opinions but, for now, I like the comparisons fellow Owls are making of receiver Adonis Jennings.

One of his fellow Owls compared Jennings to “Megatron” and the former Detroit Lions’ player was a special kind of athlete. Temple fans got a glimpse of what Jennings could do near the end of last season and in the Military Bowl. Let’s just put it this way. If all of the Owls had the production of Jennings in the Military Bowl at their positions like he did at his, the Owls would have won the game, 56-18.

That’s the key this year as Jennings, Keith Kirkwood and Ventell Bryant give the Owls their best trio of receivers in my 40-plus years as an Owl fan. (There have been better pairings of two, but the Owls have not been able to put three receivers of this talent on the field in their modern history.)

cherry

Channel 3 is so clueless about the Owls that they put the game at LFF; it’s at the EO (but they probably do not know what the EO is)

Other than the personnel implications, on a personal note getting to meet and talk to Geoff Collins is important. I waited in the Military Bowl tent for him for two hours but he did not show up until much later. Since I thought he was not coming, I made the sprint to tailgate with “regular” Temple fans on the other side of the stadium. While a good time was had by all, I only heard during the game that Collins made a late but impressive appearance for the fans who remained.

I hope he does the walk-through at Lot 10 that Matt Rhule made his first year as head coach. Rhule walked up to every fan and personally shook his or her hand and made a point to listen to what they had to say.

Rhule listened to me, put my ideas (fullback, play-action passing,  a blocking back to protect the quarterback against blitzes) in the circular file and went rubbishing through that file to implement them by his third year. Hey, better late than never. As a spread offensive team, the Owls won two and six games. As a play-action offensive team with a fullback, they won double-digits in back-to-back years.

It ain’t rocket science.

Collins is a little ahead of the curve since he called Nick Sharga “the best fullback in the country” on the Zach Gelb Show yesterday.

That’s a good start. No, make that a great one and Gelb asked the question of the spring. “If you had to name a starting quarterback for the Notre Dame game tomorrow, could you do it?”

Collins, while praising his QBs, said no. That’s a good thing, not a bad one. Let it all shake out over the next few months.

Hopefully, if the Owls can’t get a spring Phenom at that position, they will settle for a summer one.

Sunday: Complete Cherry and White Recap

5 Spring Game Questions

russo

This post is best-prefaced by saying the real football-related questions Temple fans have are always answered by the second game of the season.

There are few questions even answered by the first game as a team makes its leap to good or bad by how it improves between game one and two.

If you judged Temple by its first game last year, you might have thought the Owls were headed closer to the AAC basement than its penthouse. By game two, the Owls straightened out a lot of their problems.

That said, some questions have to be answered by the first game because the coaches have to submit a depth chart to the sports information office by the Notre Dame game. So if you are looking for the questions part of the football equation, here are five to ponder:

blackhelmets

What Are The Owls Doing About the Linebackers?

A year ago, the pundits who were looking from afar said the Owls would be screwed by the loss of National Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Matakevich. The people closer to the team said not so fast. Now it appears the Owls have taken a bigger hit by losing their three starting linebackers. Still, Jared Folks saw plenty of playing time at that position and Shawn Bradley was recently awarded a single digit (8), so maybe the Owls are better off than some think. If they go to a 5-2 defense, they might.

americansked

Did the OL Get Any Better?

The offensive line did pretty much a stellar job throughout the AAC championship run but got handled in the Military Bowl game against Wake Forest. A lot of that was the incredibly poor coaching that the Owls displayed that night—running to the right when their NFL draft pick was on the left side—but still that NFL pick will be gone in the fall. The Owls have to show toughness by Notre Dame.

USATSI_9013218_149008644_lowres

Whatever you do, don’t fumble

Who Will Replace Jahad Thomas?

Since Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas each had 918 yards rushing from scrimmage a year ago and Armstead is back, the Owls will not have to replace Armstead. They will, however, have to replace Thomas and Jager Gardner—who still holds the Temple record for longest run from scrimmage—appears to be that guy. If both Armstead and Gardner get 918 yards from scrimmage, chances are Geoff Collins will sign for that now.

collins

What Does Mayhem Look Like?

This is probably the question that will be closest to answered by Saturday. There will be plenty of “Mayhem Is Coming” T-Shirts being sold on Saturday, so bring money. If the Owls’ defense brings more pass rushers than opposition can block, then you will have a sense of Mayhem. What Collins has done in the past is to hit the quarterback early and often and create fumbles and interceptions. If there’s a sense of that happening on Saturday, you have your answer.

reps

Who Will Play Quarterback?

New offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said Owl fans should not worry about the quarterback position because he has a variety of good choices. Owl fans are worrying because the only quarterbacks Patenaude has seen before coming here played at places like Georgetown and Coastal Carolina. The battle appears to be down to Logan Marchi and Anthony Russo now, and Owl fans will get a feel for both players on Saturday.

Friday: What Are They Saying

5 Questions Dr. Kraft Should Answer

Cherry and White Day is high noon on Saturday at the Edberg-Olson Complex.

The day means different things to many people, but mostly it is a gathering of fans and friends who have not had the opportunity to meet in months all over the shared passion that is Temple football.

It also has been another thing in recent years and that is running into people who are plugged into what the university is thinking, like Dr. Patrick Kraft, the athletic director, and DIck Englert, the school’s president.

Both are approachable and friendly and both TRY to answer fans’ questions honestly.

Cherry and White Day would be a good time to get answers from them, particularly Dr. Kraft, on these five questions:

best

Why is C and W Still at the E-O?

With the opening of the sports complex four blocks south that includes a 2,000-seat soccer stadium, why cram 5,000 fans into a 500-seat hole anymore? South Florida has proved for the last two seasons that you can hold a spring game in a soccer facility and Temple should do the same. Two thousand seats plus the 500 portable seats the school brings to the E-O every year should make everyone comfortable. There is a field hockey game at 1 on the adjacent field but the soccer stadium is open. It should have been used this year and certainly should be used next season.

nonew

How close are we to an announcement on the stadium?

We’ve been hearing behind the scenes that all systems are go on the new stadium, but there have been mixed messages. Moody Nolan, the architect, has been quoted as saying that the stadium is on hold. Is it? Or have the reassurances that everything is a go are meant to keep the private donations flowing? Why can’t the university set a date to make an announcement one way or another? It is time to bleep or get off the pot.

artwork

What’s the holdup?

We’re aware that the city certainly is an obstacle, as are the 20 or so people from the community who seem to come out to Stadium Stompers’ meetings. Why hasn’t the school approached City Council with even an initial proposal?

When Will the Revolving Door Be Replaced?

The doors to the Edberg-Olson Complex seem to open in a normal fashion. You pull them open and hold them open for the women and the older fans to enter. Around the head coach’s office is a revolving door, and has been since 2010. What is the university doing to assure fans and recruits that the new coach they hire one year isn’t going to leave the next?

Was the subject of coaching stability ever brought up in the Geoff Collins’ interview?

Or was it conveniently ignored like the Elephant in the Room? Inquiring minds need to know and there would be no better day to know at least some of these things than Cherry and White Day.

Wednesday: 5 Football Things To Look For

Friday: What They Are Saying ….

Monday: Complete Cherry and White Review

Coach Hardin: A Life Well-Lived

hardin

Coach in this great Sheldon Morris photo taken Saturday.

Nothing is ever given in life on this earth, especially the knowledge of the time that you have here.

All of us know what day we arrived; none of us knows the future day we will depart. All we know is to do our best to live the best life we can.

No one lived a better life than Wayne Hardin, the legendary Temple coach who passed away Wednesday, a couple of days from attending Alumni Day at the Edberg-Olson Complex on Saturday. By all accounts, coach was in good spirits and gave a great speech about “filling the stands” for future Temple football games to the 120 or so alumni players in attendance.

On a personal note, I have known coach Hardin since I was 17 and covered his football teams for the Temple News and for the Doylestown Intelligencer later. He was the greatest college coach I have ever known (hell, the greatest coach, period) and this was something I was convinced of since my college days. Sadly, his death came two months after the greatest high school coach I ever knew,  Central Bucks West’s Mike Pettine Sr., passed away.

I had always been convinced of Hardin’s greatness, but it was nice to get affirmation from other writers, too.

During a game in which Hardin put a big-time scare into Penn State for only what seemed like the umpteenth time, John Kunda, the sports editor of the Allentown Morning Call and a Penn State beat writer, broke the silence in the press box.

navy

How fitting was it that the last championship game coach saw was Navy vs. Temple?

“Hardin’s out-coaching Joe again,” Kunda said.

The press box erupted in knowing laughter.

Later, when Tubby Raymond schooled a young Bruce Arians in a Delaware upset win over Temple, Philadelphia Inquirer writer Chuck Newman similarly broke the silence in the Blue Hen stadium facility.

“Will Wayne Hardin please report to the press box?” Newman said  over the public address system.

More laughter because Hardin had beaten Raymond in eight of the 10 previous years.

I was overwhelmed with pride, knowing that my school was the smartest school on the field every Saturday afternoon that Wayne Hardin was on my sideline and, because this was college football, that meant a lot.

Maybe everything.

Hardin always out-coached Joe Paterno, the way General Robert E. Lee always outcoached Ulysses S. Grant. Paterno, like Grant, always won because what those guys had at their disposal was more than what Hardin and Lee had.

Still, it was fun watching Temple move those chess pieces around and checkmating the bad guys time and time again.

Bill Belichick followed Hardin around as a 7-year-old son of an assistant coach to Hardin, and then followed Hardin’s teams at Temple. He took copious notes and is admiration for Hardin is documented for posterity.

“I’d say Wayne influenced me more than anybody else,” said  Belichick in a recent article by CSNNE’s Phil Perry. “Honestly, I saw other coaches at Navy take a different approach, and looking back on it, even though I didn’t know it at the time, but I would say looking back on it, I would rather be like him. I’ve seen these others, but I would rather do it the way he did it.”

I was there in the press room underneath the stadium at Colgate the day Hardin quit. I asked him why and he said simply: “Mediocrity is not my cup of tea.”

He was a very young 55 at the time.

It was Hardin’s idea to take the goofy-looking Owl off the helmet and spell out TEMPLE on the side.

“We want people to know who we are,” Hardin said. “We’re Temple.”

That “TEMPLE” became the brand during the winningest TEMPLE years and, when Al Golden arrived, he changed the ‘][‘ back to TEMPLE because, as Golden said, “that’s the brand Temple football had when it was respected throughout the country.” Perhaps a fitting tribute to Hardin this fall would be to bring back TEMPLE at least on one side of the helmets.

People in sports like to talk about records that will never be broken, mentioning Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Heck, I’m convinced no coach in Temple history will ever do what Hardin did, which is win 80 games in 13 years at the school. No coach might ever get Temple into the final Top 20 again because a Temple coach who gets the Owls on the brink will probably be gone by the bowl game. Hopefully not but that’s the reality of college football today.

Joe Morelli, a former Temple quarterback who never played for coach Hardin, made sure he drove coach to the games and that’s why we were all able to enjoy his company over the past few years.

“Joe takes good care of me,” coach said.

Last year, I asked coach if he still golfed at 90.

“Last time I did that was last week,” coach said. “I fell three times. I don’t do it any more.”

He asked me to walk him over to where his ex-players, led by Steve Conjar, moved their tailgate and I was more than happy to do that.

Look who I found!” I said to the guys.

“God bless you, Wayne,” Mark Bresani said. “I love that you come to the games. I’ll tell you what, when I’m 90, I will probably be here, too.”

About 20 years ago, Hardin finally introduced me to his wife, Jane, who stopped and grabbed me by the arm.

“We like you,” Jane said. “It’s not just because you have red hair like we did.”

She remembered my articles on the coach and said she appreciated all of the nice things I wrote.

I told her I meant every word and did.

Now coach and his beloved Jane are together but those of us who remain behind and knew him are grieving now. Perhaps the most important lesson he taught us was how to live a life well.

Monday: 5 Questions Kraft Needs to Answer