Someone made a comment the other day that Matt Rhule could be the Joe Paterno of Temple, creating his own legacy.
Maybe, but I would settle for him being the Ken Niumatalolo of Temple.
Niumatalolo has had it right all along. Every year at about this time, suitors from numerous P5 schools ask Niumatalolo’s agent for his interest in moving on up and he always says “thanks, but no thanks” and realizes that while the money is greener on the P5 side of the college football fence, the grass certainly is not. Niumatalolo is happy in his situation at Navy and has remained there for years and will be there for years to come chiefly because he knows what it takes to win there.
Niumatalolo knows the Navy landscape better than anyone and Rhule has spent nine years memorizing every blade of grass in the Temple landscape.
Being a fan of a G5 team means bracing yourself every year for “talk” of a P5 team poaching your head coach. Smug P5 fans just assume that they can throw enough money and have any G5 coach they want. Niumatalolo has been one of the few exceptions. I have a feeling Rhule is as well, though I’d like to see a stronger proclamation than “I don”t know what the future holds.”
They both have enough money and know from the experience of their colleagues that more money does not necessarily mean more happiness. In many cases, the opposite is true.
If either one leaves, the same thing that happened to these guys can happen to them:
- Darrell Hazell, Kent State
The jury might be still out for Darrell Hazell, but it certainly is in final hours of deliberations. Hazell went 11-1 at Kent State before moving onto Purdue. The Boilermakers were just cooked, 48-14, by an Illinois team coming off a 39-0 loss to Penn State. Boilermaker fans were full of hope for Hazell, who followed the 22-27 Danny Hope. Since Hazell is 6-27, any hope Purdue fans had is behind them now.
Randy Edsall had the Huskies in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and his success in Connecticut convinced the state to build a new 40,000-seat stadium in East Hartford, 30 miles from the school. Edsall had that stadium full and won two Big East championships, even beating Notre Dame once, before heading South to what he called his “dream job” in Maryland. That turned into a nightmare and he was fired this year.
- Al Golden, Temple
Al Golden came to Temple with a binder on how to build a program from the ground up, applied those principles to the moribund Owls and, after a 1-11 first year, had the Owls in their first bowl game in 30 years. He finished his career 29-26 in his last 55 games. For that kind of success, he could have had a job for life at a grateful Temple. For going 32-25 at Miami, he now finds himself out on the street.
- Turner Gill, Buffalo
They would have built a statue for Turner Gill had he remained at Buffalo after the 2009 season because that was the season where Gill delivered the Bulls a long-sought-after MAC title. His 2008 season was also good, winning eight games and getting Buffalo to a bowl. Gill went off to Kansas, where he flopped, and now is trying to hit the reset button on his career at FCS Liberty.
- Brady Hoke, San Diego State
Some guys leave perfect jobs once, but Hoke might be one of those rare examples of guys who left perfect jobs twice. Hoke was the right guy for alma mater Ball State, posting a 12-0 regular season in 2008. He made essentially a lateral move to San Diego State, where posted a 9-4 record in 2010, getting him a Michigan job that proved to be over his head.
Tomorrow: Closing in on some Temple records