Temple Putting the Cart Before the Horse With Rhule Extension

This had to be the reaction of a lot of Temple fans reading the news of Matt Rhule's contract extension this morning.

This had to be the reaction of a lot of Temple fans reading the news of Matt Rhule’s contract extension this morning.

The way it works in the business world is that a promotion or contract extension usually goes to the guy or gal who has proven to be an asset to the company with a history of proven results.

Anything else is called putting the cart before the horse. That’s why it’s extremely puzzling that the university would give a contract extension to a guy who has coached two years and has yet to produce a winning season or even secure one of the 76 bowl bids that go to the 126 FBS teams.

Temple could afford to wait for two important reasons. First, we do not know if this fine young man possesses the game day decision-making acumen that leads to winning football games. You do not give promotions and contract extensions to people for just being nice guys. If that were the case, a lot of guys pushing carts in super market lots would be CEOs of Shop Rite and Acme. Second, a contract extension buys Temple no security.

Unless the buyout is $8 million or more—and there is no reason to believe it is—any Power 5 team can break Temple’s contract with Rhule without a sweat.

Temple could afford to wait. The uni’s highly paid publicity staff tried to put lipstick on this pig with a slickly-worded press release yesterday but, if they were really honest, this is what they would have penned:

PHILADELPHIA (6/25/15) – Temple University announced today that it has extended the contract of head coach Matt Rhule for four years, which might or might not keep him as leader of the team through the 2021.

Rhule was hired to become the Owls’ 26th head coach on December 17, 2012, succeeding Steve Addazio and inheriting a team that went 4-7 in 2012. Despite returning 16 starters from a four-win team, Rhule turned that into a two-win team, which included arguably the three worst losses in Temple history—to an FCS team, Fordham, the worst FBS team in 25 years, Idaho, and to an 0-9 UConn team. Fordham would later get blown out by Lafayette.

That did not engender a whole lot of confidence for Owl fans for the 2014 season but the Owls finished the season with a 6-6 record, still not good enough to secure one of the 76 bowl berths that go to the 126 FBS teams.  Despite a four-win improvement in one year, Rhule had the Owls in the bottom third of FBS teams. The Owls often called a puzzling parade of time outs in the opening portion of each half which left  them without valuable timeouts at the end of each game.

In 2014, thanks to a Hurricane-like storm that took the sails out of an ECU Pirate ship that shot a full volley of 70 points into North Carolina, Rhule led the Owls to their first win over a ranked opponent since 1988. Still, Temple suffered a puzzling loss to a Navy team that got hammered by Western Kentucky for the second-straight year. The Owls were able to muster only two field goals against a Cincinnati team that gave 448 yards per game (102d nationally) and ranked 66th in the nation in scoring defense (27 ppg). That was a game the Owls had to win and a game in which the offense suffered a 60-minute malaise. 

The Owls’ offense was ineffective, largely because the coaching staff gave sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker empty backfields on numerous third-down situations, making him a sitting duck for blitzing linebackers. Not surprisingly, the Owls finished last in the FBS in third-down efficiency (23.8 percent) and last in the AAC in rushing. Running the football historically been a Temple strongpoint with players like Paul Palmer, Brian Slade, Harold Harmon, Zach Dixon, Stacy Mack, Jason McKie, Bernard Pierce, Matty Brown and Montel Harris following the blocks of lead fullbacks through the hole (Shelley Poole, Nelson Herrera, Henry Hynoski, Mark Bright, Wyatt Benson and Kenny Harper).

With the addition of a fullback as an additional blocker at the point of attack to jump-start the running game (and give P.J. some needed pocket protection) and the recent reacquistion of wide receiver Robbie Anderson, the BOT is confident Matt can fix last year’s problems on offense and decided to jump the gun and give him a contract extension.

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44 thoughts on “Temple Putting the Cart Before the Horse With Rhule Extension

  1. I don’t think this is that important. If Coach Rhule does not win this year and the next two, I don’t think football will survive at Temple. With the challenges facing our football program, the lack of a home stadium, the need to compete in the “cost of attendance,” the lack of significant alumni and fan financial support, I think we must win now. If he fails, and I sincerely hope he does not, I don’t think it matters how long a contract he has. I don’t think we will have a bowl division football program.

  2. Total joke. I’m just not sure who they get in here to coach this team when Rhule is fired. plus they re going to bring back the wide receiver Anderson?.this guy doesn’t know when to say when, and make a stand. prediction, they win four games this year.

    • If accomplished guys like Mario Cristobal, Dave Clawson and Todd Bowles can apply for the Temple football job (and they did), Temple can get a great coach. But I’m afraid time has run out. If “Matt” doesn’t do it, nobody else will get a chance. I hope and pray Matt does it because this is really the only team I deeply care about (Sixers, Phillies, Eagles fandom doesn’t run nearly as deep).

    • and i will be here to remind u when they when there 5th game probably in October.

  3. I expressed similar thought in a response to the Philly.com story. Some boob wrote that this shows that the B of T is making a long term commitment to football. I pointed out that if it wanted to make a commitment it would have announced a stadium or an extension of the Linc lease. This decision is mind boggling given the errors committed by the coaching staff. maybe they think he’s made every mistake possible and won’t repeat them. We’ll know if that’s true in ten weeks.

    • a true sign of a long-term commitment would have been spending millions to hire a big-name coach in 2012. This is a lose-lose contract for the uni because even in the event that Matt Rhule is able to get a 10-win season this year, his Temple contract would have no impact on any other school signing him. Did Miami care that Al Golden had three more years on his contract? No. Temple could have waited until a winning season. What if he wins four? He has to go but this eliminates that possibility. No real foresight involved here in this decision. The only thing this contract extension does is handcuff Temple from replacing Rhule in the event of poor performance this season. Then they would be saddled with him like they were with Wallace for 4 extra years.

    • By no means am I a contract law expert, but I’m pretty sure any legal agreement becomes null if say the BOT axes the program. In no way is giving Rhule a 4 year contract any type of committment to the program. Just makes it murkier to be honest. A stadium or a big name coach would show a mountain more of faith than giving a 6-6 coach a couple more years to putz around.

  4. It’s impossible to even imagine what the BOT is planning or has in mind. They can’t be that obtuse to not realize all the things us commenters have said here. Something is going on that will shock us, make us angry and/or sad. After the Bobby Wallace debacle they should know what to do here if they really want a successful program.

    • Don’t know. Lew Katz told me personally he read my blog and called it “first-class” … which I considered the highest compliment. I’m kinda doubting anyone else on the BOT is a big enough sports fan to follow this blog or even the 2 major Temple message boards.

  5. progress in an environment that engulfs Temple football is slow, unpredictable, and often frustrating…, every once in a great while a lightening bolt will strike and jump start progress…, the Rhule extension is not a lightening bolt…, we are still searching for another ‘AG’ effect on progressive change

    • Temple doesn’t “buy out” contracts of under-performing coaches. It waits until the end of contracts and then lets them go. When I go to church on Sunday, I will light a candle and ask God to give Matt the wisdom to win eight games or more this season. A blocking fullback would probably help more.

  6. Watching the highlight video of this Daiqwon Buckley kid its amazing that he didn’t get any scholarship offers anywhere. He runs the ball like Marshawn Lynch. This kid is a beast.

  7. Here’s how i would write that press release….

    Temple decided to extend their head coach contract today. Coach Rhule has changed the aura of Temple football in the last few years. He took over a team of freshmen and sophomores stepping up into a superior conference and led them to a 2-10 in his first season. That season was one to forget with horrible losses to Idaho and Fordham. After that first season Coach Rhule and his players promised to turn things around quickly. The team showed outstanding growth in Coach Rhule second season going 6-6 and becoming bowl eligible. The team was denied a bowl bid only becuase of a snafu by the AAC commish. In Coach Rhule second season the defense was ranked 4th in the nation which was a complete turnaround from the season before. The Offense however took a step back after losing star receiver Robbie Anderson who flunked out of school.

    Coach Rhule promises even more improvement going into his 3rd season with the team now full of Juniors & Seniors and some outstanding underclassmen. Many preseason writers have Temple predicted to do big things this season. Temple is even a favorite to win the AAC. Coach Rhule has Temple on the national radar with his outstanding recruiting skills that currently has Temple roster filled with 8 4-star recruits. Under Coach Rhule Temple is now a destination for elite talent.

    We felt the time was right to extend Coach Rhule and hope to have him coach our kids for as long as he wants.

    (See how easy and fair that was?)

    • The 2 points I somewhat disagree with are the superior conference, this is CUSA folk, marginally better than the MAC and not on par with the BE that Temle moved back to under Addazio. The second point is that yes there were a good number of sophomores in the lineup Rhules first year but for a lot that was there 2nd year as starters.
      As I’ve said on other boards, I would just liked to have let this season play out. I think a lot of the comments that not extending him now would hurt recruiting are overblown. With 2 years remaining after this season and if the team performs as most are expecting for 2015, then you give him the extension right after the season, still show the same longer term continuity. Let’s be honest give it to him now or later, unless there is some astronomical buyout the contract extension really does nothing to stop Rhule from moving up to a P5 school if one comes knocking and he wants to go

      • that’s the fairer assessment. this conference is not significantly better than the old cusa, which was not significantly better than the current MAC. There is no excuse for losing to Fordham, Idaho, 0-9 UConn or handing the ball off 5 yards deep on a 4th and 3 inches against Rutgers. To pretend that those things did not happen is looking through Cherry and White-colored glasses.

    • very nice, positive thoughts create their own momentum

  8. BTW, what became of Jabo Lee, the RB transfer from the U of TN? Not that it matters with the kids they have now and with everything else that’s going on.

  9. And i don’t really feel any type of way about the extension. if Temple goes downhill from here then Rhule will be fired. If they continue to improve then its a good move. We will know the answer soon. As i said b4 this next season is perhaps the most important season in Temple history. they have to get to a bowl. no excuses.

    • that contract extension assured that Rhule will be here through 2021 even if Temple goes downhill. That’s why it was foolhardy. Extending him does not assure he will stay (it did not with Golden) but all it does is mean Temple will not have the money to jettison him if he pulls off another Fordham/Idaho/Uconn-type trifecta in the future. Really puzzling in that they could have waited to the end of this year to buy them that protection. Temple does not have the money to pay off Rhule through 2021 and hire another coach.

    • I agree with you about this season which is why I think the admin could have waited to do this extension then. Given Temple track record coaches don’t get fired. So let’s just all hope this seasons turns out like the success most here think it should be

  10. I’m still on the fence about MR and agree with points from both of the releases below. MR may have been the worst gameday coach I’ve ever seen during his first season and was only marginally better last year (and I say that with no hyperbole). His defense improved considerably last year after a disasterous maiden season under Phil Snow and MR has proven to be a very good recruiter…to land the talent he has with the results he’s produced is no small feat. Additionally, his team beat ECU and Vanderbilt last season which are games he would have lost two years ago.

    However, he took a stud frosh QB who attended a top-tier off season camp and significantly retarded his development as a sophomore through poor schemes and bad calls (nevermind how he burned the kids red shirt in a desperation move). He also treats special teams like an afterthought and continues to have punt returns highlighted by fair catches and field goals that remind me of a three stooges routine.

    In summary I would deem this contract premature. I would have held it out as a carrot if he produced a winning season but now that MR has job security I’m worried about the future of the program.

    • ok already, the defense has to live up to its the potential;
      the offensive lineman and line coach MUST raise their level of play and coaching;
      the RBs should be better, but they don’t have a real RB coach which will hurt us more than anyone thinks;
      our FGs kickers must find some consistency inside the 40;

      and Rhule MUST find a way to make game winning second half adjustments and out-coach the opposing sideline for at least one of the 12 games

      this team has the talent to win 8 games.., on paper, this is the most talented Temple team since AG’s last year

    • A decision made by Indiana people and Indiana people have been content with mediocre (OK, bad) football forever.

  11. It does make a difference giving him an extension now for such a long tenure because if he screws up we’re stuck with him. If he does well for the next few seasons THEN it won’t have made a difference. Any way you cut it this was a very odd move and premature.

  12. The 6-foot-51/2, 252-pound Archibong said he was recruited as a defensive lineman and could play end or tackle.

    “Temple’s program is on the rise and it’s great to be part of it,” Archibong said. “It’s a great feeling to have made my choice.”

    Words right out the mouth of Temple’s latest recruit Dan Archibong. It’s a good thing Temple recruits don’t read this site. they would think that Temple football is in dire straights and the program is about to get cut. i cringe every time i read on here about the program getting axed. Temple football isn’t going anywhere. the recruits know this. now as i said b4 i don’t really care any type of way about Rhule extension but from the words of this recruits I think this is why they gave him one. “Temple’s program is on the rise”

    • Keep being willfully blind to the many legitimate complaints voiced here. It’s cute. The kid was being recruited by no one. Moreover, even if he’s a good recruit Rhule has yet to prove that he can consistently coach. Ask Michigan about Brady Hoch who had a team composed of four stars or better and he was fired. Recruiting is only the first phase of a successful program. The most important part is coaching and, to date, the results on the field have been disappointing.Moreover, until the B of T announce that the Owls have a legitimate solution to the stadium problem, the program remains on tenuous grounds regardless of the number of years added to Matt Rhule’s contract. .

    • According to 247 Sports most of the schools recruiting Archibong were 1aa schools but for UConn, Army, and UMass. Clearly this kid is not a recruiting coup. In addition, the only school the Mack kid, a two star, drew interest only from was Delaware State. Clearly, this doesn’t prove that Rhule deserved the extension because of his recruiting skills. To repeat, any extension should have waited until the end of the season.

      • Point taken about the Rhule extension. But is it necessary to trash local high school kids that want to play at Temple? Does citing the # of stars on these recruiting websites really matter in June before their senior season? (BTW, Mack is currently a 3*). Penn State or Virginia could offer him and he might be a 3* overnight.

      • John, u misunderstood me, sir. i wasn’t talking about if the kid was a 2,3,4, or 5 star. i was speaking about what the kid said and what seems to be the perception of Temple football these days. the recruits and the national media perception is that the program is on the rise. so i think the BOT took this into their logic about giving Rhule an extension.

        And what a way to downgrade a kid who signed to play for a school u say u love. but hey thats what Rhule hate does to folks right! and also was KAREEM ALI being recruited by no one? was AARON RUFF being recited by no one. Was the SIMMONS kid being recruited by no one? Was Anthony Davis being recited by no one? And how did the 2 star Tyler Matakevich turn out? that Rhule hate will blind ya!

        excerpt from SB Nation: According to SB Nation’s Advanced Stats Glossary, Temple was arguably the most improved team in the country last season. While its strength of schedule remained virtually the same (Sports-Reference), it went from a -59 point differential in 2013 to +67 in 2014—along with transforming the AAC’s worst-ranked defense (6.4 yards per play) to the nation’s fourth-best in terms of points allowed (17.5).

        In Matt Rhule’s first year, the Owls won two games and lost to Fordham and Idaho in back-to-back games. Fordham and Idaho! But fast forward a few months, and you see a completely different team—one that blew out Vanderbilt by 30 on the road, beat a ranked ECU, and lost to Memphis and Cincinnati by a combined 11 points.

        With all 11 starters and most of the second-stringers returning to a defense that was already lockdown, Temple can be considered a contender to win the AAC East division. To win it, however, the Owls will need more production from a painfully inefficient offense, and a complete 180 from once-promising quarterback P.J. Walker.

    • Drinking the Kool-Aid. Wake me up when we recruit a 4- or 5-star in this class. This class is full of guys whose choice was Temple over Old Dominion, FIU, UMass, Delaware, etc. On the rise? When we get a Sharif Miller and start beating Penn State for recruits in Pennsylvania, that’s when we’re on the rise.

  13. Parker: Nobody is “trashing” any kids. It’s perfectly legitimate to question why are we not beating out Pitt and Penn State for kids, instead of Old Dominion and UMass. Trashing a kid would be: “Kid A or Kid B sucks.” That’s trashing a kid. Nobody is saying any of these kids suck. Just do not like the company we’re keeping in recruiting this year as opposed to last. Our early kids should be our top kids and, if we’re going to reach, we should reach when the last schollie is available.

    • Exactly right Mike. No one is trashing any kid. The fact is that the MRAs always tout what a great recruiter Matt Rhule is. Getting kids rated 2 stars who are being recruited by 1aa schools sort of debunks that perception and that’s the point of our posts. Sure these kids can develop and I hope that they do. That’s not the point though when a coach is being deemed a great recruiter and has signed for 2016, one three star.

      • Trust but verify, Ron Reagan once said. There’s a lot of “trusting” going on over at Matt Rhule Pravda, aka Owlscoop, too little verification. To me, when you grab a kid the big-time schools want, that’s verification. Arob, Kee-Ayre, you need those types not just a full class of 2 stars.

      • Well, however you would like to describe comments such as ‘The kid was being recruited by no one’ and ‘Clearly this kid is not a recruiting coup’, they were out of place in response to the prior file note. The Other JD was stating that recruits (be it zero stars, two stars, etc.) are excited about coming to Temple, not that he is a blue chip prospect. Personally, I think it is cool to see local kids (Archibong from my alma mater, Dill, Bryant and Mack) choose Temple.

        I don’t think it is reasonable to get up in arms over the status of this recruiting class in June, or how many stars a player has. Though, at the time of this post, Temple 247 has 4 of the recruits listed as 3*. I think last year’s class has the potential to be Temple’s best in recent memory.

        Granted, many of you have been fervent Temple fans for as long as I’ve been alive. But it seems as if a lot of energy is invested here on harping on the failures of past seasons, when there is actually plenty to look forward to in the fall (i.e. Kareem Ali, Robbie Anderson’s (potential) return, FR RBs- Simmons, Armstead and Gardner). The improvement of the defense has been well-documented. Additionally, Rhule added an NFL QB coach and an ACC WR coach (who played in the NFL) to the staff. I think that is at least some evidence that he is learning from his shortcomings and mistakes over the past two years.

        I enjoy reading this blog and hopefully there will be cause for more positive entries/comments come fall.

      • I’m sorry are we really judging a recruiting class in July??? and if there is one thing that Rhule has proved is that he can recruit. Ali 4 stars. Simmons 4 stars. Ruff 4 stars. Thompson 4 stars. A. Davis 4 stars.

  14. But didn’t we beat out Pitt for Anthony Davis. Also wasn’t Kareem Ali a 4 star? Wasn’t Aaron Ruff a 4 star? Wasn’t TJ Simmons a 4 star? Good thing i’m on this site to point out the facts. that’s what happens when your not blinded by Rhule hate.

    • I’m talking about this year’s class, not last year’s. No hate for Rhule at all. Love the guy. Hate the game-day coaching that led to losses to less talented teams like Idaho, Uconn and Fordham. That HAS to improve for Temple to make any impact in the AAC.

  15. And as to your disgust of 2 star recruits who also had offers from UMass & Old Dominion…….

    Tavon Young 2 star recruit
    Kyle Friend 2 star recruit
    Matt Ioanndis 2 star recruit
    Tyler Matakevich 2 star recruit
    Robbie Anderson 2 star recruit
    Praise Martin 2 star recruit
    Dion Dawkins 2 star recruit
    PJ Walker 2 star recruit

    See Temple will never be the type of school that gets the 5 stars. We have to get 2 or 3 stars sprinkled with some 4 stars and develop them into something great.

    • When did I ever use the word disgust? and, despite the 2 stars, P.J. was POY in New Jersey. I will take a POY any day over a lower-achieving 2-star.

      • I think it’s cool to see local kids committing to Temple, too. It’s a lot “cooler” when the local kids are Kevin Jones (O’Hara, Va. Tech, Lions), Bernard Pierce (Glen Mills, Temple, Jaguars), Frank Wycheck (Ryan, Maryland, Titans), John Cappelletti (Bonner, PSU, Heisman), Blair Thomas (Frankford, PSU, Jets) than, say, Vaughn Charlton (Avon Grove, Temple, Nowhere). I see a lot more potential Charltons in this class than the above group … and that’s not trashing the kids. Temple needs to do a better job of getting the top Philadelphia kids, not the top Philadelphia projects.

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