Howard Smith-USA Today Sports
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.