Quintessential Acres of Diamonds’ Story

russell

When Dr. Pat Kraft approaches the podium to introduce the next Temple University football coach in a week or two, he could have a terrific Russell Conwell-type story to tell.

Conwell, the founder of Temple University, wrote the book “Acres of Diamonds” about a man who searched the world for riches only to find them in his own backyard. It has become the backbone of the Temple mission with the moral of the story being that education is the key to finding your own personal wealth.

Kraft already has a list and he is checking it twice and only one man checks all the boxes and his return to Temple would be the quintessential Acres of Diamonds story. Like any good shopping list, it is always helpful to know what you are looking for and not wander around the store aimlessly and, to that end, Kraft has already noted some boxes he wants to check off. In that presser, Kraft said the next Temple coach will have to in no particular order, understand Temple’s mission; value academics; be the right fit, be a great person and be able to win here.

Some candidates have emerged in the media, while others have been mentioned to have sent out feelers behind the scenes. Of those two groups, only one—former Temple head coach Al Golden—checks off all of those boxes. Golden searched the world for riches after Temple, and just might find his Acres of Diamonds were in his old backyard all along.

Unless God called Nick Saban and told him to take a $5 million pay cut to take the Temple challenge, these are the top candidates:


When it comes to the most important
criteria “being able to win at
Temple” every other coach is a
crapshoot. Golden has proven
he can win at Temple

AL GOLDEN (A+, exemplarily)–Golden is really the only guy who fits all of Kraft’s stated criteria. He took Temple out of NCAA academic sanctions caused by Bobby Wallace and had the football team among the nation’s leaders in APR. He also checks off some important boxes Kraft did not mention, like keeping the continuity of the program. Temple plays with a certain Temple TUFFness and that was a style Golden, not Matt Rhule, implemented. The Temple team fans see under Golden will be much like the one they see now, with a heavy emphasis on defense, running the football, and play-action passing. Plus, he knows the landscape and will be able to keep coaches he brought here, like George DeLeone, Adam DiMichele and Ed Foley, among others. When it comes to the most important criteria “being able to win at Temple” every other coach is a crapshoot. Golden has proven he can win at Temple. He also went 32-25 under brutal sanctions at Miami, sanctions that do not exist at Temple. We hear he is interested and could get out of his contract as TE coach with the Detroit Lions to take the job right away. He is an extremely competitive guy, eager to prove that he can do better with Temple talent than Matt Rhule did. He, above all other candidates, realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the 10th and Diamond fence. He would have to assure Temple fans on the day he is hired that he is here to stay this time. If he’s willing to make that commitment, hire him.

boxes

The Rest, ranked A (excellent), B (good), C (average), D (unsatisfactory) and F (don’t even think about it):

JOE MOORHEAD, P.J. FLECK  and BOBBY WILDER (A, excellent).– If you ignore Kraft’s other criteria and cut to the chase on these three, they fit the mold of being proven winners. Kraft can sell Moorhead to Temple fans as someone who was able to beat Matt Rhule with FCS talent. Wilder is 66-30 as a head coach at Old Dominion, a truly remarkable record in that ODU is a start-up FBS program. ODU has also offered some of the Owls’ current recruits and Wilder has won several recruiting battles with Rhule already.  Fleck, the Western Michigan coach, is headed to bigger and better things, but P5 openings are running out and he could be attracted to Temple. If the Owls can grab him for a year or two, he will fit Kraft’s “best coach available” checkmark. Despite being in negotiations with WMU on an extension, he certainly deserves a phone call.

TODD BOWLES (B, good)—This only works if the New York Jets fire Bowles in the next week or so and that is doubtful. Bowles is really the only “Temple guy” with winning head coaching experience—he was 10-6 with the Jets last year with a journeyman quarterback–but will be able to pack his staff with extremely qualified Temple guys who understand the Owls’ mission, including Nick Rapone (defensive coordinator), Todd McNair (offensive coordinator), Keith Armstrong (special teams) and Kevin Ross (defensive backs). He would be a solid choice if things break right. McNair and Rapone are already proven recruiters. I understand Temple fans wanting Temple coaches like WMU assistant Kirk Ciarrocca to come to the Owls, but Temple should by now have reached a point where it does not have to hire a MAC assistant coach to be its head coach. If Temple is going to hire a MAC coach, it better be a MAC head coach. Really, of all the coaches with Temple connections, only Bowles has shown he is qualified to be a head coach. Aside to Temple fans thinking a “Temple guy” is more likely to stay. Willie Taggart is a Western Kentucky grad and he quit there to go to USF and now Oregon.

PHIL SNOW (C, satisfactory)—If Kraft has to listen to the players, he could do worse than Snow as a placeholder until the next proven head coaching winner comes along. Snow could stop the bleeding of staff members to Waco, Texas, a God-forsaken place we cannot imagine a whole lot of Temple coaches want to put down roots. He would at least keep the defense in good shape. He, for instance, will know Jacob Martin and Sharif Finch are next year’s starting DEs with Karamo Dioubate, Greg Webb and Freddy Booth-Lloyd holding down the middle. He might even make Nick Sharga’s next year’s Bednarik winner as college football’s next 60-minute man (starting fullback, starting linebacker). At first, I hated the idea. Now, if he keeps Foley from being the face of Temple football, that might not be a bad thing. Snow is great with the media, but I would only go with Snow if the A and B candidates fell through.

GREG SCHIANO AND CHARLIE STRONG (D, not passing the eye test)—Two guys who got it done elsewhere, but Strong has never recruited this area and Schiano strikes me as a snake oil salesman. Temple people can sniff out those types right away. Strong might be a good fit at Louisville, but it doesn’t mean he’s a good fit at Texas or Temple. Plus, he’s probably headed to USF anyway.

ED FOLEY , JOHN DONOVAN (F, no thanks)—Some guys have muckers and career assistants written on their foreheads and Foley is one of the best of them. He’s a good detail guy who is popular with the players. Can he be the face of the program? Err, no, but we hope he joins the staff of Al Golden, Joe Moorhead, Todd Bowles or Phil Snow to ease the transition and keep singing “High Hopes” after wins. Donovan is the “quality control” coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His major claim to fame is being the OC who fell victim to 10 Temple sacks on 9/5/15, a day that will live in Penn State infamy. You’ve got to be kidding me with that name.

Monday: Can Temple Screw This Up?

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36 thoughts on “Quintessential Acres of Diamonds’ Story

  1. I’m liking coaches who have been here or are here, only because I don’t want the players to go through another “process” and many recruits currently committed have expressed interest in staying committed if they receive a “familiar” name.

    – If Al Golden is seeking redemption… HIRE HIM

    – If Snow wants to stay… HIRE HIM (And hopefully get Robinson to come back)

    • I think the Robinson ship has sailed but there are some nice vessels still in port that both Golden and Snow can persuade to stay. I hoping the Waco bleeding has stopped. Knock Daz all you want, but the guy showed enormous integrity with no taking any of our recruits to BC with him.Daz recruited P.J. to come to Temple and laid off P.J. after he left. I hope Matt shows the same kind of integrity with our recruits.

      • I also feel the Snow ship has sailed as he followed a ton of Texas recruits on twitter (I never knew he recruited).

        – Unless of course, that is his strategy to do some negotiations with Kraft & Co.

      • Mike , interesting point and I’m starting to wonder about that with Rhule. I think with Daz at Florida he was used to recruiting across the country more than Rhule. To me one of the reasons Rhule is apparently “gutting” the TU staff is that for all of his success here he doesn’t have as deep a coaching network as Addazio. Hope the same doesn’t hold with recruiting.

  2. Mike, I have to be honest – I find it ironic that for many years on this blog, and in fact as recently as immediately prior (and probably immediately after) the 2016 AAC Championship Game, you had a statistic shown on the right-hand side of the page comparing Bruce Arians’ record against winning MAC teams (5-0) against Al Golden’s record against winning MAC teams (0-14). Despite that fact, you are now advocating for Al Golden as the home run, no drawbacks pick to be the next Temple head coach. What guarantees are there that Temple’s performance will significantly improve in a potential second Al Golden stint? Oh, and showing your media experience, you have conveniently removed that negative statistic about Al Golden now that you are strongly advocating for his return.

    Now don’t get me wrong – in my opinion Al Golden should be one of the top candidates for the Temple head coaching job. I’d rank him behind Joe Moorhead, and there are a few other candidates that I’d rank roughly equal with him, but Golden deserves to be one of the most serious candidates. But Temple is in a much different place than it was in 2006 when Golden took over, and even a different place than in 2010 when Golden left to take the head coaching job at Miami (FL). The job itself is a higher profile job now than it was nearly a decade ago (in part because of Golden), and the Owls play in a tougher league. Temple won’t be able to beat teams as easily based purely on better talent in the AAC as they did during Golden’s 2006-2010 tenure when the Owls (mostly) played in the MAC. And that’s an important consideration because I think most Temple fans, you included (at least prior to the last few days), don’t think Al Golden is the greatest game day coach. There’s no guarantee an Al Golden Temple Mark II team would be more successful than the Al Golden Temple Mark I team was, and considering Temple football’s expectations are higher now, a repeat of Golden’s first tenure success-wise wouldn’t bring a high enough level of success in Temple’s up seasons.

    • My first pick would be AL Golden. Yes you are right about him not being the best GameDay coach but think about this…Would you rather have a coach that is not so great on GameDay but is a really good recruiter or would you rather have a good GameDay coach that can’t recruit? Al Golden falls into that first group but if he surrounds himself with good assistants he will be just fine on GameDay. The second group reminds me of a Fran Dunphy. He is considered one of the best coaches in college basketball but can’t recruit worth a lick which is why temple basketball will always be mediocre with him running the team. The point is, Golden knows the area and high school coaches. He built the culture that temple football is now. He runs a clean program. He brought this team back from the dumps. If it weren’t for him they may be playing at the FCS level now or not even have a team. I say let him come in and pick up where he left off and it will be like Rhule never left. Only stipulation is that he can’t hire mark d’nofrio as dis D- coordinator.

  3. 1. Mike, I agree with the majority of your rankings
    2. If Golden comes back he WILL leave again. No one should get their hearts set on him staying forever.
    3. Snow has done well, but worries me as HC. I like him defensively just fine but coordinating a defense and running a program require different skill sets. If hired I’d expect his first two years to be similar to Rhule’s.
    4. This candidate pool already looks stronger than ones we’ve had in the past. Strong sign for our program.

  4. I am OK to go with a Snow Job for HC. So, he did build a great defense, so then perhaps that phase of the future team’s may well be in great shape.
    As to offense, TU has been very good, but off and on, these last 2 years.
    Perhaps he can keep it going.
    I would let Snow explain to the interviewers how has a grasp on recruiting and assistant coaches in his group of friends and comrades in coaching.
    What I ‘fear’ most is not knowing who he knows.
    A great defense is really fun to watch and I cite : Penn-State 2015, and Navy 2016. I am still floating with happiness after watching Temple just stuff Navy last week, in the stands with 10,000 of TU fans/friends.
    The Tixx Prices of the Bowl game area a bit too high, my opinion. This is not a premium bowl event.

    • Do you understand that the prices are set by the Bowl and that the university has no say in the matter. Fans of programs who deeply care about supporting their team are not phased by a $80 or $60 ticket price and while the game is not in a warm climate the travel costs to a some what local game are much more economical for people to attend. For the program to advance it is necessary that we pack the stadium. For many “sideline” Temple fans there is always an excuse of what not to attend games – the “wrong” ACC team, location of Bowl game, the home schedule, parking issues at the Linc. Should I go on?? Just suck it up and plan on attending the Bowl game. Be a true fan and not one that finds excuses to not attend.

  5. I would be very surprised if Todd Bowles is hired. He does not have his degree. He attended Temple but did not graduate. This was the stumbling black the first time around and cant imagine that will change this time. With out a degree he doesn’t not set the example the university desires to set. In this one case he can not lead by example. One could debate whether or not this is the right call but with all the recent success on the academic side of the department this is not an optic Temple can afford.

  6. Assuming Bowles is let go by the Jets can the program wait until January 2nd, end of NFL season, for the new HC to come on board. While the potential staff certainly looks good from a football perspective it seems most might be a bit far removed fro recruiting. I assume some of that can be mitigated keeping Foley, DeLeone and whoever else from the staff isn’t going to Waco. As for Golden, if he is interested I would have him at the top of the list of ex HCs (Schiano, Edsall, etc.) due to his connections with the program. Even if he only gives us 5 years like his first go round I’m ok with that, just no MDO !!

  7. Great article to go along with what you’ve written all year. Motivated me to make another overdue contribution to your blog. Not sure if the transaction when through as intended. And failing any other way of confirming it, I’m using this medium.

  8. Moorehead turned down temple 😦

  9. Temple has received 10 time more favorable publicity this time than when AG or Daz departed…, think this make Rhule one of the top 10 highest paid coaches in the NCAA, why? Temple!

    if we can’t sell that then we should just give up and play St Mary’s of the Poor every Saturday

  10. Well Charlie Strong signed with USF, what is Temple waiting for? They are the only school left looking for a coach. Al Golden, Les Miles or Lane Kiffin in that order are my top 3.

    • I hope we are actually in talks with Golden.

      – As for Less Miles it would be a long shot and idk if he know this neck of the woods for recruiting.

      – No way Jose for Kiffin, way too risky.

      – Surprised Moorhead said no, unless we moved on.

      • shortlist getting shorter by the hour.., USF took only 4 days to put rocket fuel in their jet-packs…, Moorhead said no and zero status on Wilder.., looks like Snow or Foley by default.., did this sudden sticky situation catch Kraft flatfooted? stunning..,

        Houston, Cincy, and USF are recruiting for 2017

  11. I really liked Al Golden BUT…..altho he beat some good teams outside the MAC, he never beat a winning MAC team in the 5 years he was here. That has to be a strong consideration. A big reason for that is he was not a very good game day coach. If he brings in really good coordinators (keeps Snow?) and listens to them during games, then give it a try. Rhule seemed to let his coordinators control things during games – maybe too much the first couple of years. But I do agree, don’t take chances on assistants any more(Golden and Rhule were taking chances that happened to work out), except maybe Snow.

    • Golden is in Detroit taking a knee…, head coach is a grind, hard to picture him lighting up the recruiting trail at this stage in his career…, Temple needs a fresh face who can steal a few kids from PSU and Pitt

      recruiting in Florida for Strong is a natural fit.., he will take big time talent from both UF and FSU…,

      • While it is a nice thought, let’s not be under the illusion that any 4/5 Star player is going to buy into what a new G5 Coach has to say, even if his last name is Strong.

        – The reality is a G5 school will garner at most two 4-star prospects, and a 5-star (like Houston) if your brother goes to the school.

        – I just need a guy that can find the “diamonds in the rough” b/c until we get into a P5 Conference, that is where our niche will be if we want to succeed.

      • As time wastes away it looks more and more like TU is going to settle on Phil Snow. He;s a good coach who has shown the ability to coach em up when necessary. What I have not seen though, which is vitally important for a head coach, is the ability to convince people-recruits and quality assistant coaches- to join him. Look at Fran Dunphy. There is no doubt that the man can coach. Nevertheless, he has trouble recruiting and I see Snow having the same problem because of his age and demeanor. He appears to b more an x and o guy than one firing people up. .He just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to convince kids to come to TU like Rhule did and it’s likley that’s why he has never been a head coach. TU’s coach has to have that “Always be Selling” mentality and until I see something different, Snow appears to lack that ability. If Les Miles is interested and wants the job I’d give it to him because he can recruit. Saturdays were often his problem. Nevertheless, in conference like Temple’s better players can overcome coaching deficiencies. Finally, in a conference filled with many young excellent coaches and the entry at Cinncy and USF of two proven coaches, TU cannot mess up here. Settling likely will result in the team settling in the bottom of the eastern division. TU may be the only school coming off a championship season where optimism has been buried by doubt.
        On another note, Navy was still feeling the effects of the beating TU gave em last week.

      • Is Temple looking at Chris Creighton of E.Mich. He has them in a bowl game in his 3rd year. In his other 3 HC jobs his record is 139-46. He seems to have the qualities Temple is looking for in a head coach.

  12. While I have no idea who has actually expressed interest in the HC position or who the university may have intervuewed but I am starting to get an uneasy feeling about this right now. I would have thought that a program with back to back 10 win seasons, ranked at some point each year and a conference champion would have piqued the interest of at east a few coaches. Not impressed at all with Foley as HC or the Eagles QB coach Difillipo ( sorry about the spelling ) . Right now it seems Phil Snow is the best option which I suppose could be ok with a good OC and some good recruiters. Why is this starting to feel like 1989 again with potentially a major coaching mistake lurking on the horizon

    • I’d take Difilipo over Snow. Difilipo is only 38 years old, he’s been an nfl assistant for 10 years and he’s been an nfl offensive coordinator for 2 seasons. I think he grew up in the area and if I read it right his dad was the atletic director at villanova so he probably has ties to the local area which is good for recruiting. Plus, Derek Carr credits him with being huge for his development as a QB which could be a good thing for him to develop Anthony Russo. Me personally, I think he would be a great hire. If Phil Snow us hired a think the program is doomed. My first pick is still Al Golden.

      • Anyone can credit anyone. No one is going to talk trash about you on TV, or during an interview.

        – I’d rather trust what 30 Temple players have to say over a Derek Carr.

  13. Now we’re hearing Geoff Collins (UF DC). Didn’t do bad this season considering how many players got hurt…until they matched up with Alabama of course.

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