The entire Temple campus is still stinging from the latest proof that college basketball is now as corrupt as college football.
The old terms used to be RPI, strength of schedule, injuries, how teams play down the stretch. Now the only thing that’s meaningful is the vague “eye test” which means, if you are not a Power 5 team, we cannot see you.
The best way for Temple to become a Power 5 team is to win in football. No longer will 6-6 be acceptable. No longer will losses to Penn State be acceptable. A win over Notre Dame would hasten the call, as will filling the stadium for the other games. None of this is easy, but nothing worthwhile is.
By all NCAA criteria, Temple’s resume was superior to that of both UCLA and Indiana in every respect except the one that should not have mattered at all: Its athletic program was not a member of the Power 5, which has taken over the NCAA and remade it into its own playpen.
The NCAA’s No. 1 criteria is RPI, and Temple’s RPI of 34 was better than the RPI of Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, Iowa, UCLA and Oklahoma State, along with six other teams in the tournament. Another factor the NCAA says weighs heavily is how the team plays down the stretch, and Temple won 10 of its final 12 games, a superior run to most of the schools in the 68-team field, let alone the Power 5 schools.
Temple has a 25-point win over a No. 2 seed, Kansas, and none of the other bubble teams had a win like that on their resume. Only Kentucky has beaten Kansas by a bigger margin.
UCLA getting in over Temple was particularly galling. Temple’s record was 23-10, while UCLA’s was 20-13. Temple’s RPI was 34, while UCLA’s was 47; Temple’s record against the RPI top 100 was 8-8, while UCLA’s was 5-10. Temple’s best win against the RPI top 100 was Kansas (No. 2), while UCLA’s was against Utah (No. 20). Temple’s conference record was 13-5, while UCLA’s conference record was 11-7.
Most bracketologists dismissed Steve Alford’s team from the field altogether, but UCLA comfortably made the field of 68 while also avoiding a First Four game in Dayton. Most of those same bracketologists had Temple comfortably in the field.
Those experts assumed that the selection committee would follow its own guidelines, but failed to consider the fact that the Power 5 gets what it wants. That’s the reason why Sunday was a sad day not only for fans of Temple, but for all fair-minded sports fans.
There are plenty of double-standards that make college football less appealing to the average fan, but none more unfair than the double-standard involving players and coaches and that is why the case of Temple’s Adonis Jennings is particularly interesting.
Jennings officially committed to Temple on Monday with this tweet:
— Adonis Jennings (@ADED_2) March 9, 2015
A coach can sign a contract with one FBS school and then “transfer” by taking a job at another without sitting out a year, while in most cases, a player trying to transfer and, in effect, take a job playing football at another FBS school has to sit out a year.
Jennings should be able to do the same thing head coach Paul Chryst did when he jumped from Pittsburgh to Wisconsin for the same job. Jennings was recruited to Pitt by Chryst in good faith and was one of the main reasons why he accepted a scholarship offer there. Chryst, in turn, burned Jennings’ red-shirt in a few late November games. Now that Chryst had a change of heart with Pitt, the NCAA should give player Jennings the same opportunity it did with coach Chryst. Jennings signed to play both at Pitt and for Jennings; now that those circumstances have changed, Jennings should be allowed to move just as freely.
A player like Jennings, a four-star wide receiver recruit who initially committed to Rutgers and then changed his commitment to Pittsburgh, should not have to go through the red tape he is now by reversing field and coming home to Temple. Philadelphia is just 15 minutes across the river from Jennings’ home in Timber Creek, NJ, and that will be the crux of his hardship waiver appeal, saying he wanted to be closer to his family. Temple is the closest FBS program to Timber Creek and that could be enough for his waiver appeal to be approved.
Still, if Chryst doesn’t have to sit out a year before taking over at Wisconsin neither should Jennings nor any other player caught up in those kind of coaching staff changes. If the NCAA balks, Jennings has what appears to be a great case for a class-action suit.
That’s it, an empty Howard Gittis Room on a Sunday when nothing was happening in Philadelphia sports and an announcement of an on-campus stadium would have been front-page news in all three Philadelphia daily papers and right at the top of all the sportscasts.
It would seem to me that the uni should now give up this pipe dream and begin to negotiate in good faith with the Philadelphia Eagles because the other options–Franklin Field and Chester–would be a Doomsday Scenario for Temple football.
Maybe the Phillies will move to Oakland and the Owls can slide into a more fan-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
That seems to be a scenario just as plausible as coming up with $300 million of private funds to plop a stadium down at 15th and Norris before 2018.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, Temple University giving a contract extension to third-year head football coach Matt Rhule would certainly come under that rather large umbrella. Temple, in the past, has extended non-winning coaches like Jerry Berndt, Ron Dickerson and Bobby Wallace and those extensions have set the program back at least 30 years.
Granted, the man has endeared himself to many influential alumni with his effusive personality and perceived commitment to his job. He has also been a very good recruiter. One important item on his resume is lacking: A winning season. Until then, the Board of Trustees would be wise to refrain from offering him a contract extension. It is believed that Rhule signed a five-year deal in December of 2012 that gave him a $1.2-million per season.
If so, he is being handsomely paid to go 2-10 and 6-6. Lately, some Temple people—maybe overly impressed by two consecutive No. 4-ranked recruiting classes in an 11-team American Athletic Conference—clamored for an extension. One post on a fan website made by a Philadelphia tavern owner who may have been sampling too much of his own product was entitled: “This kid Matt Rhule” and was particularly amusing because he wrote that Rhule was getting it done with no stadium and the worst facilities in the entire conference. … “if this admin (administration) isn’t staying up late to extend him, I hope he takes one of the many offers on his table.”
On that website, the editor there does not refer to him as Rhule or as the Temple head football coach but only by “Matt.” It’s almost like David Muir on the ABC Evening News saying, “after this message, we will have some excerpts from Barrack’s press conference.” Or Walter Cronkite back in the day saying, “here’s what Lyndon had to say about the Selma march.”
First of all, Rhule currently is 8-16 with the best, not the worst, facilities in the entire conference. In 2014, Temple added a $10 million wing to its already existing $7 million football practice facility. The school bent over backward to refurbish a $4.2-million building three blocks away for a football-dedicated indoor practice facility. (Other sports use it, but football gets first dibs.) Bruce Arians almost passed out when he saw the lay of the land last year. Temple plays in a $521 million stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, which is, by about $400 million, the most expensive stadium in the AAC. Many of these so-called great recruits Rhule was able to attract have gone on record as saying that being able to play in the same stadium the Philadelphia Eagles play sealed the deal.
Second, there are no offers on the table for an 8-16 coach who has on his resume a loss to 2013’s worst FBS team, Idaho, and an FCS team, Fordham, which in the same season lost to a horrid Lafayette program located 40 miles directly north of Philadelphia. I can just picture the Notre Dame President, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, saying, “geez, if Brian Kelly leaves for the NFL, let’s get this Matt Rhule guy from Temple.” Or not.
Third, giving an extension to a non-Power 5 coach makes no sense. If the guy wants to leave before the contract is up, he’s going to leave for a Power 5 job. That’s what happened to Temple when Al Golden left for Miami. It’s what is going to happen to any Group of 5 school. No G5 coach has ever said they cannot leave their job for an SEC or Big 10 job because they already have an existing contract.
If Temple finally makes a decision for a long-term commitment to Rhule, it should be after at least one winning season and probably two but not before. Anything less is just bad business at best and pure insanity at worst.