The telling screen shot last night came not from the horror show that a nation had to witness for three hours prior, but in the interview afterward.
A profusely sweating Geoff Collins was wearing a vest that said, simply: #TEMPLETUFF.
Not TEMPLE TUFF, but hashtag Temple TUFF. Temple has been on national television twice, and there is plenty of talk about juice and swag and money downs and hashtags but the nation has seen nothing of the Temple TUFF brand we have become used to the last two years.
So we’re going to do some #Mythbusting today.
There are largely two schools of thought on what happened to a once-proud Temple football program floating around on social media.
One is that “the team lost too much from last year’s squad this is a rebuilding season” and another is that they “hired a head coach who is learning on the job with a group of ill-qualified assistants.”
One theory is an absolute myth perpetrated by fans who follow the program only casually and it’s surprising to those of us who have followed the Owls closely that some people find that line of thinking plausible.
An offense that lost its starting quarterback, but returned a running back who gained over 900 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, the top fullback in the country, three of five starting offensive linemen should not be rebuilding. A fourth non-starter, center Matt Hennessey, should and probably will be Temple’s next great center in the mold of Alex Derenthal and Kyle Friend. Ask any Temple fan who followed the team over the last 40 years (I will raise my hand here) who the best set of receivers are in Temple history and that fan will probably say the current group of Ventell Bryant, Adonis Jennings, Keith Kirkwood and Isaiah Wright. Any offense that has those four guys on it is not rebuilding, it should be reloading.
Emphasis on “should be” because the coaching is the X-factor here. Temple won the past two seasons because it catered an offense to suit the talents of its players, and did not try to force fit a square peg (spread offense) into a round hole (play-action offense). A good head coach tailors a scheme to the talent he has, not the talent he wants.
The myth perpetrators also say the defensive line lost a lot, but starters like Karamo Dioubate, Greg Webb, Michael Dogbe and Jacob Martin are still on the team from last year’s championship squad. Sharif Finch, one of the stars of the 2015 team, also returned this year. They didn’t lose as much as they gained. They did the pushing around last year and this year they are being pushed around. What’s the difference? Coaching.
Sure, the team lost three linebackers but that should have been offset by a secondary that was outstanding last year and mostly returned intact. The Owls replaced a fifth-round NFL draft choice, Nate Hairston, with a guy in Mike Jones who was projected by NFL draft guru Mike Mayock as a sixth-round pick last year. In Artrel Foster, Jones, Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall, those guys are not being put in a position to showcase their talents because the defensive scheme doesn’t call for the necessary quarterback pressures that would result in Pick 6’s coming back the other way.
Maybe the Owls were not meant to defend their championship this year, but they certainly were not meant to be embarrassed like this. When Matt Rhule left, the situation screamed for the school to hire a successful FBS head coach instead of rolling the dice on another coordinator. USF’s kids are benefiting from hiring such a coach, a guy who succeeded in an urban setting (Louisville) like both Philadelphia and Tampa. Charlie Strong did his learning on the job elsewhere and had a pretty good handle on it by now. Meanwhile, Temple’s kids flounder until this guy can learn on the job how to be a head coach.
These kids, and these fans, are the Guinea Pigs and there is not a damn thing anybody can do about it.
Monday: Fizzy’s Corner
Wednesday: If Not Now, When?
Friday: From Plain to Plain Ugly