This Was The Week That Was

 

Haason Reddick gives a shout out to Temple Football Forever at the 2:29 mark of this video. What kid would not want to be a part of this?

 

Back in the 1960s, a political satire program appeared on network television for a couple of years called “That Was The Week That Was.” It was hosted by a guy named David Frost and gave an actor named Alan Alda his first national exposure.

For first-year Temple coach Geoff Collins, that week was this week and it might have been his best week ever as a  football coach anywhere, head or assistant. For a guy who ran the recruiting at Georgia Tech and Alabama, that’s saying a lot. Any Temple fan skeptical of Collins’ long-term commitment to the Owls (raising hand here), can now be disabused of the notion of a quick exit. This week of recruiting proves that he at least plans to be here for a long time better than any words that might come out of his mouth. As a start, this is the kind of class you build if you want to beat Power 5 schools three years down the road. At the very worst, he is building a house of brick, not straw.

commits

The Owls got 13 commits and before anyone rains on their parade and says wait until February to see if those commits are still around, remember that most people are men of their word. It’s the exception, not the rule, when a player de-commits from his original commitment.

There are a couple of reasons for that and one of them has to do with first impressions being important. A player often gets a “gut” feeling for a school and that feeling in the gut seldom goes away. The first love usually is the strongest one. The second reason is that the school that showed the initial love gets the benefit of the doubt.

Temple is a hot school right now and not only from a football perspective. All studies have indicated that incoming college students want an urban experience, not a rural one, and football players are no different. For the past four years, Temple has broken records for applications. These students could have gone anywhere. They chose Temple as the place they want to be. Philadelphia is a big plus as well, after recently getting the only “World Class City” designation of a city in the United States and being named the second-best travel destination for vacations. When you go to a school, you go for the full four-year experience, not just the football side.

experience

Plenty of fan spirit around Temple football these days.

Nobody is vacationing in, say, Piscataway or State College.

Speaking of Piscataway, it was rather amusing to watch the reaction to the announcement of St. Augustine Prep running back Kyle Dobbins. A thread was started on the Rutgers’ football site noting that Dobbins would make his announcement at 8 p.m. on Monday. One of the first posts was asking him to please pick Rutgers. Another post followed with a “praying hands” icon. When Dobbins finally picked Temple, the tone changed. In a matter of three hours, the kid went from “please, please, pick us” to “he sucks and Ash probably didn’t want him anyway.” Only one RU poster called out his fellow ones for the hypocrisy. Par for the course over there.

madchuck

All the things that make Philadelphia a vibrant destination city for tourists make it an incredibly exciting destination for potential students.

Collins, a skilled recruiter with an impressive pedigree, is mining those assets and, so far, he is coming up with Gold. You can bet that he will be digging for larger chunks in the months ahead.

Monday: A Closer Look At The Commits

“Krafting” Better Schedule

okie

Unless Pat Kraft tinkers with the schedule, after ND this year, Oklahoma in 2024 is really the only high-profile opponent on any of the Owls’ future schedules.

Whether or not he wants to admit it, Pat Kraft has a scheduling problem.

Too many Idahos and Bucknells on the schedule and not enough teams that create juice nationally.

As the Sixers learned in their pursuit of Fultz, there’s really only one way to fix a problem.

Give something to get something.

photo

 

Whether he wants to admit it or not, having Stony Brook on the schedule—instead of beating another Power 5 team—did the AAC champions no favors last year

 

 

Dr. Kraft, the athletic director at Temple, has something to give up for an overall greater reward.

Pick the Idaho and Bucknell years, specifically, and give up those home games for a road game against a more high profile opponent.

Kraft has said two things publically about his scheduling philosophy. One, that he will not accept anything less than a home-and-home with anyone. Two, that no one wants to play the Owls. While that might be his stated philosophy, there is evidence to the contrary.

Both have been debunked by the Oklahoma series starting in 2024.

That’s not a home-and-home (it’s a two-for-one) and, by playing the Owls, Oklahoma has disabused the notion that no one wants to play the Owls.

There have to be other Oklahomas out there and it is up to Dr. Kraft to find them.

Whether he wants to admit it or not, having Stony Brook on the schedule—instead of beating another Power 5 team—did the AAC champions no favors last year. That’s why the “prize” for winning the title of the best G5 conference was not a NY6 bowl but a back-to-the-future trip bowl that the Owls made in 2009.

Since the 2018 non-conference schedule (Villanova, Maryland, BC) is devoid of the Bucknells and Idahos—who really should not be playing Temple—let’s concentrate on the 2019 schedule first.

The Owls’ home opener is the body bag game with Bucknell on Aug. 31. On that weekend, for instance, Baylor is set to open with Stephen F. Austin. Kraft can get on the phone with his self-described “best friend in the whole world” (Matt Rhule) and arrange for the Owls to travel to Waco that day. Surely, Matt would not back down from the same kind of challenge Oklahoma accepted. Then his next move would be to get on the horn with K.C. Keeler and arrange for SFA to host Bucknell.

As the French say, Voilà!

Problem solved. Temple gives up a home game which would be sparsely attended for a road game where there’s a lot of juice to energize the fan base for future home games that year.

The next problem is the Idaho game, a home one on 9/12/20. Since the Owls’ long-term goal should be to get into the ACC, that’s where their focus should be.

Both Miami (Fla.) and Pitt have openings on that date and Temple should offer a home-and-home to both schools. If neither takes it, then offer up the Idaho home game as a sacrifice to the football Gods and take a one-and-done road game. Tell the Vandals thanks for the return date, but no thanks and help them get a game with Villanova or something.

Kraft’s scheduling problem is going to remain one until he does something about it. Otherwise, you can plan your shore trips around the Idaho and Bucknell dates.

Friday: Collins’ Best Week Ever

Birthday Wishes: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

chair

Not quite ready for the rocking chair, but certainly ready for this one.

On the day I turned 40, which was more than a few years ago, I was stunned by the question that followed “Happy Birthday, Mike!”

“How old are you now?”
“Err, 40.”
Stunned by the question because it was the first time I was ever asked it on the day of my birthday. Thirty-nine years of blissful “Happy Birthdays” and sincere “thanks” responses. That was always enough to me. This new thing, I did not like.
Then came birthdays 41,42, and 43 and the same question always followed.
“How old are you now?”
By 44, I learned my lesson.
In this instance, honesty might not be a better policy than don’t ask, don’t tell.
It seems the older you get the more people are interested in the number.

I’m always amused when the TV does a story on a 100-year-old person and the shot returns to the anchor and they always say something like “doesn’t she look great?”
This is usually the look on my face at that point:

oldperson

I practice what I preach. When my friends have birthdays, I never ask them how old they are now. I just wish them a happy birthday, period, end of story.
I do know one thing: I’m closer to the finish line than I am to the starting blocks and am grateful to have gotten this far. Temple football might last forever, but Temple Football Forever has an unknown expiration date–preferably far into the future.
So grateful to have met so many Temple fans who have shared this common passion with me and so sad that so many of them were not around to enjoy last year’s championship win.
I’m thinking specifically of guys like Dan Glammer and Shane Artrim, who both passed away at the tender age of 46 and Steve Bumm, who did not make it past 51. There were not many more dedicated Temple football fans than those guys, who lived through more thin and died before seeing too much thick. Heck, there weren’t too many Temple football fans, period, in those days. N.J. Schmitty was another great Temple fan who passed far too soon. I’m sure there are many others I don’t know or have forgotten.
Steve came up to me and introduced himself one halftime under the concourse of Franklin Field one day and we became great friends after that. He ran a high school basketball tournament in Florida and, as a Philadelphia sports writer, I helped hook him up with Philadelphia coaches who fed him teams for his tournament.
Then there was the sad story of Wes Sornisky, who died a couple of years ago in a fire in Delaware and is now buried in a Potter’s Field in Georgetown. Wes, a former kicker, was responsible for bringing many of his ex-teammates back to tailgate in the 1990s and that tradition has continued strong.
I’m sure Wes, Dan, Shane, Schmitty and Steve and many others would have enjoyed that noon game in Annapolis last December. While we all want for more things like a new stadium, a Power 5 Conference, great recruiting and a committed head coach, what we do have is a championship so I got my birthday wish a few months ago and am a bit wiser to this wish list thing.
To me, a birthday is just another number now better left a state secret at this point.
Wednesday: Krafting A Better Schedule
Friday: Catching up With Recruiting

Cracker Jack Surprises

crackerjack

As a kid, one of the most popular snack food items was Cracker Jack.

It was OK tasting, but the real appeal was the prizes in the box.

You never knew what was going to be in the box, but it was usually something interesting like a bird whistle, a dancing skeleton or magic kit. Nothing elaborate, but something to pass the time.

Going into Costco the other day and seeing those boxes of Cracker Jack got me to thinking that this 2017 season will be like that snack. You know it’s going to be good, but you also know there will be a surprise or two along the way.

Hopefully, like the box, it will be an interesting one.

The assumption on the outside is that Temple will take a step back and probably cede the title to USF this season. I subscribe to the step back theory, not the ceding title one.

This year, Temple will not have to win 10 games to win the title; I think it could still win it winning as few as eight games and I think that’s a reasonable goal.

Another assumption from a personnel standpoint is that the loss of P.J. Walker will mean Temple takes a big hit at that position and that his successor will be a game manager, rather than a star.

That’s where the Cracker Jack surprise comes into play.

We don’t know if Geoff Collins is a great gameday coach or just another great assistant who rose to his highest level of competence. If he beats Notre Dame and pummels the crap out of Villanova, we will know our answer in the first two weeks. Same if he loses to both. Not so much with a split, though. Going 2-0 with a Mayhem defense that causes turnovers and puts quarterbacks on their asses with regularity would be the ticket.

I think the most interesting prize in the box could be the QB position, where any one of three quarterbacks–Anthony Russo, Frank Nutile or Logan Marchi–emerge.

Marchi has been referred to as a “Poor Man’s Johnny Manziel” without the off-the-field baggage. If he beats out the other two and wins the job, and has anywhere close to the rookie season Manziel had at Texas A&M, the Owls will be a national story. Same, too, for Russo, who is the most highly recruited Temple quarterback since Ron Dickerson grabbed Parade First-Team All-American Kevin Harvey out of Paulsboro. Harvey became a pretty good defensive back but never the QB many predicted he would become. If the Owls succeed with Russo at the helm, that could open a pipeline to local talent for years.

Plenty of surprises ahead in this box because we do not know what is inside. I can’t wait to unwrap it on 9/2/17.

Monday: Birthday Wishes

Wednesday: Krafting a Better Schedule

Sustainability

Pedersen

If Geoff Collins commits to Temple like Chris Pedersen did to BSU, that would stabilize things.

One of the side benefits of this Labor of Love called Temple Football Forever is reading some of the comments.

Generally speaking, the comments are a little more insightful here than they are on Philly.com or OwlsDaily or Owlscoop.
Maybe I’m just biased, but that’s the way I feel. I think part of the reason for this is that we discuss issues here related to the viability and sustainability of the program and do not generally delve into puff pieces on the players. The reason for that is simply that this site is dedicated to the long-term fans of the program. Players come and go, parents come and go and coaches come and go, but the fans are here forever. This site is for the fans of the program for the past 20 years or longer and hopefully for the fans of the team for the next 20 years. That’s why the future is such an important topic here.
Hence, Temple Football Forever.
A couple of recent ones knocked my socks off and pretty much explained where we are as a program and why we are there.
kjone

To me, there’s a fourth option here and that is to go the Boise State route and find an outstanding coach willing to put eight years in the program like Chris Pedersen was with BSU.  For awhile, Boise State had its pick between the old Big East and the Big 12. It picked the old Big East, but when the Big East became the AAC it opted out. For Temple to truly become the “Boise State of the East” it’s important that Temple become that wanted commodity. Is it realistic? Boise State is not the university Temple is in any non-football respect, so if the Broncos could do it there is no reason Temple cannot. For me, the way to do it is better vetting of future Temple coaches. I cannot believe that the subject of the coaching revolving door did not come up in the Geoff Collins’ vetting process, but apparently it did not. For that, shame on Pat Kraft and Dick Englert. It would be terrific if Collins himself says he wants to break the recent run of coaches who have left the kids holding the bag and stay here for a long time but I don’t see that happening, either. The closest thing he has come to saying that is that he “tells the kids we love them” every day. If you love them, tell them you will never leave them and keep the promise.

These kids have been burned by Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule. It would nice for them to not be shuffled from foster parent to foster parent every few years.

KJ is right, though, the current path is not sustainable because inevitably Temple is going to swing and miss on hiring a head coach and that is going to lead to three-win seasons. Even the best ADs don’t hit homers with head coaching hires all the time. Once you’ve teased the fans with success, they don’t want to slide back.

The other great comment was from JoninOhio here:

jontwo

Jon’s points are terrific, too. Temple always seems to be on the precipice of building a great fan base, but a loss to Army before 35,000 Temple fans last year was a blow from a fan standpoint the team never recovered. That happens every season Temple suffers a disappointing upset loss. Two steps forward, one step back.

This year that can all change. A win over Notre Dame would open some eyes and be a huge step forward toward sustainability.  Remove that revolving door in the coach’s office at the E-O on top of that and away we go.

Friday: A Cracker Jack Surprise

Gone Too Soon

In a large way, Kee-Ayre Griffin started this football turnaround at Temple University.

After sending someone I did not know a congratulatory email for getting 28 highly-rated commits in his first month on the job, Al Golden shot back a reply.

“Thanks, Mike. It’s not over yet. We’re waiting on a guy from St. Peter’s who might be the best of the class. It’s between us, Maryland and Boston College. Wish us luck.
_Al”

Griffin, who died last week, was that guy and Golden got him. Getting Griffin started a Golden run where he’d win a handful of recruiting battles with Power 5 schools every year.
That’s how you recruit at Temple University. You get mostly two stars that you “coach up” to four stars, but you reach up and grab a few four-stars–like Griffin–in every class. Temple certainly departed from the ingredients of that mix  in the most recent class and we will not know if the resulting cake will be delicious or flat until four years down the line.

athletic

Griffin did not turn out to be the Mega Star back all of the scouting services had him being, but he was more than a serviceable running back who found his niche after being switched over to the defensive side of the ball.

Before that happened, he had a key fumble in an overtime loss at Navy that never should have happened and a young head coach who did not know any better threw him under the bus afterward. With 17 seconds left and on fourth down deep in your own territory against a triple option team with no time outs, you punt the ball, plain and simple.

That’s Coaching 101.


That’s how you recruit
at Temple University.
You get mostly two stars
that you “coach up” to
four stars, but you reach
and grab a few
four-stars–like Griffin–in
every class

In 2009, I was walking down the corridor of the fourth floor of the team hotel, the Renaissance Marriott,  in Washington D.C. and saw Griffin, dressed in a Temple warmup, leaving about three hours before the Eagle Bank Bowl. Knowing the team had left a couple hours before, I said:
“Kee, what happened to you?”
“I got suspended.”
Not wanting to know what it was for, I just said:
“Sorry to hear that. We need you out there.”
“Thanks.”

After hopping on the D.C. Metro, the entire car broke out into a loud “Let’s Go Temple” rhythmic chant that lasted the entire ride to RFK Stadium. Thinking about the “regular” commuters hearing that, it was one of my proudest moments as a Temple fan. In the rear of the same car, I saw Griffin taking in the whole scene and smiling. Hell, I got pretty choked up watching this scene unfold.

In 2011, while playing for Steve Addazio, he had the most athletic interception I ever saw a Temple player make, diving by the sideline to intercept a Penn State pass. It would have won the game, but Mike Gerardi returned the favor three plays later and Penn State went on to win, 14-10. If not for that, Griffin’s play would have gone down with Sharif Finch’s interception as two game-changing plays in wins over Penn State, but it was not to be.

While he might have hung with the wrong crowd after Temple, the Kee-Ayre Griffin I knew was a good guy who loved the school and his teammates and made a huge impact at Temple. Two other teammates, Anthony Ferla and Adrian Robinson, also did not make it to their 30th birthday and that is the very definition of gone too soon. The arguments about Kee hanging with the wrong crowd should be for another day. He’s gone and his Temple family is grieving along with his blood relatives. The same can be said for Ferla and Robinson, who died under different circumstances.

All of them deserved to be remembered for the significant contributions they made to Temple.
Wednesday: Sustainability

Fizzy’s Corner: The Cosby Trial

fizz

Editor’s Note: Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub, a friend of Temple Football Forever and former teammate of Bill Cosby, was featured in a story in the Washington Informer. The story follows below: 

The Temple University community — both current students and faculty and its proud alumni — have largely remained silent as Bill Cosby, the school’s onetime favorite son, faces sexual assault charges.

However, on the outset of Monday’s trial in which the iconic comedian could face 10 years in prison, one of the university’s stronger voices has emerged.

David Weinraub, a Temple graduate who spent more than 30 years as a teacher, dean and high school principal, has challenged others to “review the evidence” against Cosby, who attended Temple and served 32 years on the university’s board of trustees.

Weinraub, who has closely followed the accusations of dozens by women who claim Cosby assaulted them, has put together a compelling argument, presented as if he were a lawyer, and asks students of a fictional law school to determine Cosby’s guilt or innocence.

“I’ve been following it from the beginning and saw the obvious time constraints with the statute of limitations in the case and I saw where a district attorney candidate ran on the Cosby issue,” said Weinraub, who now lives in New Jersey.

His “assignment” details the case through facts not always as widely reported as the allegations.

“Once the accusations were made public, many women came forth to say they too, had been molested by [Cosby],” Weinraub said. “Many of their stories had the same theme: they were thrilled to have this famous man show interest, and accompanied him to his digs where he surreptitiously slipped a drug in their drink. Later, they woke to find their clothes in disarray, and various forms of evidence suggesting some kind of sexual activity had taken place.”

None of the women came forward with a complaint within the legal time limit except for former Temple employee Andrea Constand. However, after prosecutors originally reviewed the evidence, it was determined that there wasn’t enough to convict Cosby, so Constand filed a civil suit seeking damages, Weinraub noted.

“The basis of her case was that on one of the many occasions she had visited Cosby, she was given a pill,” Weinraub wrote in the dissertation to students whom he’s asked to determine the outcome of the case. “When the drowsiness wore off, she looked down and saw that Cosby had his hand in her pants.

“She did not say that anything else had occurred, only that she saw his hand in her pants,” he wrote. “Cosby said the pill and any activity was consensual. She said it was not.”

Given the he-said-she-said testimony in such cases, prosecutors struck a deal with Cosby for him to tell his side of the story and that it would remain sealed, Weinraub said.

Also, a deal between Cosby and Constand was reached but years later, a new prosecutor stepped in and filed charges anyway despite the former prosecutor agreeing not to seek prosecution.

The new prosecutor wanted to bring in the previously sealed testimony made by Cosby in the civil suit, Weinraub said.

“After hearing the testimony of the old prosecutor who said he had indeed, made the deal, the presiding judge said in effect, ‘tough darts,’” he said, pointing out how Cosby’s private words could now be shared with a jury in a criminal trial and that the judge who allowed the testimony did so knowing that Constand’s claims could not be substantiated.

In his direction to the law students, Weinraub asked that they also consider Cosby’s request for a change of venue.

In summation, Weinraub said the only charge to be considered is that Cosby gave Constand a pill and placed his hand in her pants, all without permission.

“There is no other charge here,” he argued.
“You’ve heard firsthand from this woman, she did not acquiesce to take a pill from Cosby, nor did she want him to put his hand in her pants. Cosby’s testimony from the civil trail says he offered a portion of a pill and she accepted. At no time did she say no.”

Weinraub noted that Constand voluntarily came to Cosby’s house on several occasions and even returned after the alleged incident.

There was no immediate complaint of any sort until much later, when her mother got involved, he said.

“Then, after the prosecutor decided he couldn’t win a criminal case, the mother and daughter decided to sue in civil court … during the civil case, they made a deal, accepted money, and that was that until this new prosecutor searching for an issue that could help him win an election, said he would bring criminal charges against Cosby,” Weinraub said.

“She didn’t say he raped her,” he said. “She didn’t say he did anything else indecent. All she said was he put his hand in her pants without her permission, and that’s after cozying up on the couch with him for quite a time. There’s no proof here, only innuendo from a woman who took his money and then went back on her word.

“Why was she even there?” Weinraub said. “Why didn’t she leave? Innuendo is not proof. After all the times she voluntarily visited Cosby, and even instigated some of those visits, are you going to send a man to prison on her word alone? Are you going to send a man to prison because this woman said he had his hand in her pants?”

Weinraub asked his students to place themselves in the position of the presiding judge and present a verdict and rationale for it.

When asked what would be his verdict, Weinraub said, “Not guilty.”

Attempts to reach Montgomery County District Attorney Richard Steele and Constand’s attorney were unsuccessful. Temple officials had no comment.

Monday: Too Soon

Wednesday: Sustainability 

Friday: Cracker Jack Game Managing

Monday (6/19): Birthday Wishes

Wednesday (6/21): Five ADs Pat Kraft Should Call