Alliance: Something to Watch Between Now and Cherry and White

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Temple TUFF Evan Rodriguez is on the San Antonio Commanders

There aren’t too many dead periods in sports but, for the last few years, the time after the first week in February until real March Madness (late, not early in March) was the deadest of the dead.

It still might be sleeping but it’s not dead, thanks to the American Alliance of Football.

Between signing day on the first week in February and Cherry and White, at least from a football perspective, nothing happened.

I went into the first week of American Alliance of Football play not expecting much but pleasantly surprised by four things:

  • There are Temple guys playing in this league;
  • You can actually hit someone like the old days without drawing a flag;
  • Everybody makes pretty much an equal salary;
  • Games are pretty damn entertaining.

To the first point, the Temple guys are Leon Johnson, Adonis Jennings, and Evan Rodriguez, an offensive lineman, wide receiver and tight end, respectively.

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I could not find the rule on quarterback hits but I saw several quarterbacks being hit pretty hard without the immediate flags that are thrown in an NFL game. Tom Brady, for instance, probably wouldn’t like this league. Also, the helmet-to-helmet restrictions aren’t the same severity in this league that exists in the NFL.

The play clock is 35 seconds, five seconds shorter than the NFL one and there are no TV timeouts so the games can be completed in 2 hours and 30 minutes of real time.

Economic equality comes to pro football with all the players making the same $250,000 a year. The good part of that is it’s probably at least $200,000 more than they’d be making in the “real world.”

All the teams are in Southern markets so inclement weather (other than rain) usually isn’t a factor.

Myles Tannenbaum, the one-time owner of the USFL Philadelphia Stars, summed up the business model of that great league perfectly when he said: “If you like chocolate ice cream in the summer, you probably would like it in the winter, too.”

That league failed because a younger owner demanded it go up against the NFL, which was selling a much tastier brand of chocolate ice cream in a different season. Now, it’s the only ice cream in town.

Until my favorite kind of ice cream, Cherry and Vanilla is dished out on April 13, this will be at least an option we did not have in the past.

Tuesday: Real Pitchers and Catchers

Loving The Schedule on Valentine’s Day

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Over the next few weeks, fans are going to be hearing a lot about Quadrant 1 and 2 wins.

It’s a new way for the NCAA to determine the at-large teams in the 68-team men’s basketball field and assigns weight to each win based on a formula of RPI, the strength of schedule and home or away.

Fortunately, college football fans don’t have to worry about that.

Every win is just as important as the rest and that’s why I have never understood the phrase “trap game” or “letdown.” When you play only a dozen regular-season games, there should be no trap games or letdowns. You work your tail off for 353 days and get to show the fruits of that labor on the rest of the days so every Saturday should be showtime.

Penciling in wins and losses this far away is a fun exercise fraught with dangers. In Temple football history, there have always been unexpected wins and losses and that’s every year, not just every few years. The only outlier was the 1979 season when the Owls won every game they were supposed to win and reached up and upset a team or two on the way to a 10-2 season.

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Cupid loves this Temple schedule, with the exception of the Bucknell game.

Still, the season can somewhat be broken down into quadrants. The technical meaning of a quadrant is four quarters of a circle.

In college football, that’s three games apiece.

Coming out of the first quadrant, the college football “world” probably expects Temple to come out 2-1 with wins over Bucknell and Buffalo and a loss to revenge-minded Maryland. Temple fans know better. I have to like the Owls’ chances at home in that one. Bucknell is a given and pretty much this same team (minus Rock Armstead) was able to thrash Maryland on the road last year.

So that’s a 3-0 quadrant in my mind.

The second quadrant is a little tougher with a home game against Georgia Tech, a trip to ECU, and a home game against Memphis. In my mind, any time you take Dave Patenaude off Temple you give the Owls an extra seven points. When you take him out of Temple and give him to the bad guys, that’s another seven points for the Owls. So that’s a win.

ECU will not be a 49-6 cakewalk that it was last time because Mike Houston is a far better coach than Scotty Montgomery. Memphis has had four solid recruiting years and seamless coaching so that’s a tough one, even at home. We’ll give that quadrant a 2-1, leaving the Owls at 5-1 at the midway mark.

Owls should win at SMU to kick off the third quadrant but UCF will be tough. That game looked winnable when Milton McKenzie–easily the single best player who faced Temple last season–went down with a broken leg, but UCF went out and replaced him with Brandon Wimbush. So that game suddenly becomes more problematic than it already was and, realistically, a loss. Owls bounce back at SMU. Getting a week off before traveling to USF for the next game should help so we will make that a 2-1 quadrant for a 7-2 record.

Owls finish off with home games against Tulane and UConn sandwiched around a tough trip to Cincy and 2-1 would be a decent way to finish up that quadrant for a 9-3 season.

Of course, you always hope for 12-0 and a league championship but, given these quadrants, signing for 9-3 right now would be a nice consolation prize.

Saturday: The Alliance of Football and Temple

A Trade That Benefits Both Ballclubs

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Bucknell might be able to entice Nicholls State to visit its 13,100-seat Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium on 8/31

On the floor level of the Wells Fargo Center, there were smiles all around Sunday afternoon for what Sixers’ general manager Elton Brand was able to pull off.

He immediately upgraded the Sixers with a megastar like Tobias Harris and some valuable pieces that upgraded the bench. Still, like any good trade, to get something Brand had to give something and those were mostly draft picks that are going to make the Clippers a more valuable franchise down the road.

The Sixers are playing for now. The Clippers are playing for the future. It was a trade that benefited both ballclubs considering their current circumstances.

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The reaction of most Temple fans when they first saw Bucknell on the schedule

That’s why current Temple athletic director Dr. Pat Kraft should be considering a trade for the football Owls. Getting Bucknell off the schedule would benefit the Bison from decimating their current roster due to injuries and would benefit Temple by getting it a possible Power 5 win the Owls might desperately need if they were fortunate enough to win the AAC.

“We just got a better today; a lot better,” Kraft said on the day he hired Rod Carey.

This whole dilemma reminds me of a conversation I had with Bill Bradshaw when he was named athletic director. He said he looked at the schedule and when he saw that Temple had a game the next season that did not make sense, he would immediately make calls to switch with other schools. Bradshaw saw it as a challenge and the conversations with other ADs eventually led him to schedule a series with Notre Dame.

Kraft needs to be as flexible now as Bradshaw was then.

The Owls need to win now and capitalize on it. Playing Bucknell does Temple zero good. It gives the Owls an extra (seventh instead of six) home games, but have Temple fans done anything over the last 40 years or so to deserve a seventh home game? I think not. If they were filling the Linc on a regular basis, they deserve an extra home game now and then. At best, Bucknell attracts 22K fans for an August 31 date.

Here are five possible trades Kraft could make now that would benefit both ballclubs:

Friday, Aug. 30

    • UMass at Rutgers _ This would be the ideal trade. Temple would bring 20K fans to Piscataway alone and Bucknell can go play at UMass, a much more competitive game for them. Some say Rutgers would be “afraid” to play big bad Temple. I say give them a call and find out for sure.

Saturday, Aug. 31

  • Montana State at Texas Tech _ Kraft has said in the past that “it’s hard to get games against (Power 5) teams because they don’t want to play us.” Hard to believe Texas Tech would risk a loss to an FCS power like Montana State and be “afraid” to play Temple. The guarantee Tech could give Temple to visit would pay for Bucknell to travel to Montana State.
  • Nicholls at Kansas State _ Last year, Nicholls went to Kansas and beat the Jayhawks. That has got to get the attention of the Wildcats, who might be wary of the same thing happening to them. Hard to believe new KSU coach Chris Klieman who won six of the last seven FCS titles at North Dakota State would be afraid of Temple. Have Bucknell travel to Nicholls and the Owls to the fake Manhattan.
  • Portland State at Arkansas _  Razorbacks’ head coach Chad Morris is familiar with Temple having coached against the Owls as SMU’s head coach. It might be easier selling Arkansas fans on an FBS opponent rather than Portland State. The trip to the West Coast to play Portland State might be more educational for the Bucknell kids than a trip to South Philadelphia.
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    Curt Cignetti takes his JMU squad to WVA; he might be up for a swap of games with Bucknell so the Owls can return to the scene of this crime.

  • James Madison at West Virginia  _ While driving across the interstate might be a short trip for JMU fans, new James Madison football coach Curt Cignetti (a former Temple assistant) knows he has a better chance to make a first impression with a solid win over Bucknell than a road loss to Neal Brown in his first game as WVA head coach. Temple and WVA have a history that goes way back. James Madison would be a nice trip for the Bucknell kids.

These are five trades that would benefit both Temple and Bucknell and all of the above schools. Like any good trade, it involves working the phones and that’s what Dr. Pat Kraft should be doing in the next couple of months.

If it worked for Elton Brand, and the Sixers,  it can work for Pat Kraft and the football team five miles up Broad Street.

Thursday: A Closer Look at the Schedule

5 Intriguing Names In The New Class

The University of Temple is cringeworthy, but KBS is already here. 

One of the reasons why you don’t see Group of Five teams having the same kind of sustained success that say, Alabama, Clemson and Georgia have, is illustrated perfectly by what happened to Temple football this year and far too many years.

Coaching change interrupts any recruiting momentum and that is felt not necessarily the next year but three or four years down the road.

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Got to love the Temple Love in this photo by the KBS family

While Temple can and probably will have a good year in 2019, the 2021 season might be the most impacted by the Owls bagging only 18 recruits. According to Scout.com, their recruiting class completed on Wednesday is ranked 102d.

That’s bad for a Sun Belt or a MAC school. It’s terrible for an AAC school.

Still, that doesn’t mean there is a lack of talent in this group. Nobody here can tell you who among this group will be a star but I’ve always been from the school of thought that the best predictor for future success is measured in past success and, based on that criterion alone, here are the five most talented guys:

Kennique Bonner Steward QB 6-3 215 Huntersville, N.C. William A. Hough _  OK, going to say it right now, this guy is going to be The Man on campus after Anthony Russo and Trad Beatty. He throws the ball on a dime and has the kind of escapability past Rod Carey quarterbacks have possessed and he has excelled on the big stage as shown by this big Hough High victory.
M.J. Griffin DB 6-1 189 Ypsilanti, Mich. Saline. _ Any time a Temple commit gets Power 5 offers, that has to open some eyes and that’s certainly the case with Griffin. Part of the reason he chose Temple was that he’s from a city and loves the city environment.

Edward Saydee ATH 5-11 189 Philadelphia, Pa. William Penn Charter _ Reminds me a little of Bernard Pierce coming out of Glen Mills and that’s high praise indeed. Has good vision once he hits the hole and appears to be the same kind of one-cut runner Pierce was. More importantly, his measurables are Pierce-like (Bernard was 6-0, 180 out of high school with a 10.8 in the 100-meters and Edward is 5-11, 189 with the same 10.8.)
Kwesi Evans WR 6-3 198 Parkville, Md. St. Frances Academy _  Nobody knows Evans better than new Temple running backs’ coach Gabe Infante. The national high school coach of the year needed an act of God (literally) to complete an unbeaten state championship season due to lightning with six minutes left in the third quarter. St. Frances was up, 13-7 when the game was called. No other high school team came within 20 points of the Philadelphia squad all year. For St. Frances, Evans caught a touchdown pass in that game.

Wisdom Quarshie DL 6-3 310 Sicklerville, N.J. St. Joseph (Hammonton) _ Because of a need for depth on the defensive line, a player like Quarshie with his size and toughness has a chance to get snaps right away.

As exciting as it will be to see the above players develop, keep an eye on a wide receiver named Joshua Youngblood at Kansas State. He was a solid Temple commit until Geoff Collins left and waivered when Manny Diaz came in and was lost completely when Carey arrived and succumbed to a late effort by Kansas State. This kid in my mind will become a big-time star but that’s life in the G5 when coaching changes happen every couple of years.

Tuesday: A Trade That Elton Brand Would Be Proud to Make

Thursday: Delving Into The Schedule

Saturday: A New Lease on Life For Some Owls

Monday (2/18): The Real Pitchers and Catchers

A Different Kind of Signing Day

 

Zamani Feelings found this gem of a video and sent it to us … enjoy.. over 20 years ago.

Just like Cherry and White Day and the season ticket-holder celebration, the first Wednesday in February has been a staple of the calendar of many Temple football fans.

Not this year.

Last month, I made a call to the athletic department asking if there was any sign-up deadline for fans attending this year’s event.

“We’re not having one this year,” the friendly but somewhat sad voice on the other end said.

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I was only slightly surprised because the Owls were hosting UConn in basketball last night and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to kill two birds, basketball and football, with one stone.

While the disastrous Manny Diaz hiring was a big part of this year’s reason, February signing days at Temple could go the way of the Dodo Bird.

You saw it coming two years ago when Geoff Collins pretty much wrapped up his class by the Bad Boy Mowers’ Bowl. He held a signing day on St. Petersburg Beach and that was that. They still had a February signing day, though, mostly for the fans to catch up. No catching up needed this year because no significant news was made between the first and second signing day.

This, like the anti-climatic bowl game,  could be the new norm at Temple.

Group of Five schools now have pretty much targeted the early December date as their primary target date. The reasoning is that if you have to wait on a player until February that player is probably waiting on a Power 5 offer anyway. If a player doesn’t want to be here, he’s probably not going to be a good player here.

The Owls were able to get 18 signatures on the dotted line by December and partly because Collins was handing out scholarships like candy to role players in a week or two before he left, they are now one over the 85 scholarship limit. That’s a problem The Minister of Mayhem left for Rod Carey to deal with.

In the meantime, hardcore Temple fans have one more free day on their schedule. Maybe next year’s ceremony will be held on the beach while preparing for a more meaningful bowl game.

We can only hope.

Five Players Already Enrolled:

Kennique Bonner Steward QB 6-3 215 Huntersville, N.C. William A. Hough
Re’Mahn Davis RB 5-9 222 San Francisco, Calif. Blair Academy
M.J. Griffin DB 6-1 189 Ypsilanti, Mich. Saline
Yvandy Rigby LB 6-2 205 Egg Harbor Twp., N.J. Egg Harbor Twp./Milford
Victor Stoffel OL 6-8 282 Stockholm, Sweden Stockholm International

Not enrolled but expected by July: 

Simon Abedimungu DL 6-5 221 Rockville, Md. Richard Montgomery
Mahmud Dioubate ATH 6-2 180 Philadelphia, Pa. John Bartram
Jermaine Donaldson OL 6-4 300 Voorhees, N.J. Eastern Regional
Kwesi Evans WR 6-3 198 Parkville, Md. St. Frances Academy
Chris Fowx OL 6-6 300 Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Archbishop Stepinac
De’Von Fox WR 5-10 173 Maple Heights, Ohio Maple Heights
Thomas Joe-Kamara DB 6-0 191 Dayton, N.J. South Brunswick
Jordan Magee LB 6-3 208 Dover, Del. Dover
Wisdom Quarshie DL 6-3 310 Sicklerville, N.J. St. Joseph (Hammonton)
Edward Saydee ATH 5-11 189 Philadelphia, Pa. William Penn Charter
Jacoby Sharpe DL 6-3 240 Sugar Hill, Ga. Lanier
Nate Wyatt DB 6-1 176 Somerset, N.J. St. Joseph (Metuchen)

Saturday: Five Newbies To Watch (and one who got away)

 

Dear Rod: Just My Two Cents

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Editor’s Note: Pretty much every time I felt Temple did the right thing on a coaching hire, I dashed off a note to the new coach congratulating him on the gig. That meant only Al Golden and Matt Rhule got letters. Al sent me a note telling me that he was still waiting on a player who could turn out to be the best in his first class, Kee-Ayre Griffin, and asking me to wish him luck. Matt called me and we had a very cordial and nice 35-minute conversation and he picked my brain on which Temple fans to network with and how to build support. Haven’t heard from Rod yet, but will keep his thoughts under wraps until after he’s gone when I do. If it’s after six years with four division and two league titles, it will be a successful run. We typed this on a word processor and sent it in an old-fashioned, stamped envelope. He should have received it last Thursday.

Dear Rod,

Belated congratulations for getting the Temple head coaching job from a 40-year season ticket holder and Temple alumn.
I wanted to send this right away but knew you were engrossed in hitting the ground running with recruiting and staffing obligations but I was there in the room on the day you introduced and was impressed in a way that I was not on prior coaching introductions.
I have a vested interest in you succeeding because, ever since Al Golden left, I’ve always felt that the Temple head coaching model should be hiring a successful FBS head coach and you certainly fit that description.
Golden was what Temple needed in 2005–someone who knew how to build a program from the ground up–with a binder full of ideas on how to do it.
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Once he left five years later, the program was already established and 20,000 Temple fans drove down I95 from Philadelphia to watch the Owls play UCLA in the Eagle Bank Bowl.
Since then, it’s been a succession of coordinators with eyes on a higher prize than Temple. These kids are the prize and they deserve the stability someone like you can give them and that’s the same kind of stability you gave those kids at Northern Illinois.
I have a strong feeling you will hit the ground running because this is a ready-made team with very little in the way of holes to be filled.
With the Owls seven-deep at the wide receiver position, nothing would help you hit the ground running (pun intended) than making Isaiah Wright a lead tailback.
Just my two cents. I’m sure others will offer their two cents as well. It comes with the territory, as you well know.
Again, congratulations. As underwhelmed I was the day Manny Diaz was hired, that’s how overwhelmed I was on your day.
Good luck,
Mike Gibson
Thursday: Who’s Coming and Who’s Staying?
Saturday: The Second Recruiting Day

Three Identical Strangers: TU, NIU, Miami

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Hopefully, Rod Carey keeps the Cherry helmets this fall

Nothing I see on TV usually blows my mind.

Like everything, there are always exceptions to the rule and the recent CNN documentary “Three Identical Strangers” falls into that category. Without getting deep into it, it was about three young men separated at birth on July 12, 1961, intentionally by an adoption agency as a case study for the effects of nurturing versus naturing.

The college football version of that show is far less intense and intrusive but the study elements are close this fall. The case studies will be separated not by 100 miles or less but by about 500 miles West and 1,000 miles south of Philadelphia.

Proven coaching or talent. Young, unproven coaching or talent.

The question in the fall of 2019 will be: Given the somewhat equal talent in three separate settings does a proven head coach produce a more desirable result (winning) than a hot assistant?

My theory is that Temple football dodged two big bullets over the last decade, separated by one letter.

Daz and Diaz.

Had Steve Addazio stayed at Temple, the Owls probably would have tapped out at the seven-win mark, a number that has concerned the powers-that-be at Boston College so much that they worked in an eight-win minimum into his contract extension this season.

Manny Diaz would have been a college football version of one-and-done but never got to that point. Temple did not need to hire another head coach for one year only to see him leave because, at some point, the instability has to take a toll on recruiting.

“You don’t want to go there,” the bad guys will begin to tell recruits, “they change coaches every year.”

That begs the question: Why can’t Temple have both excellence and stability?

Rod Carey, who by any account, gave Northern Illinois that for the last six years, shows a lot of signs of being the real deal. If the Owls dodged a bullet with Daz and Diaz, they may have the benefit of getting a lot of ammunition from Carey for their weapons.

The lab experiment for this theory will take place in three places: Philadelphia, DeKalb, and Miami.

Only one of the schools hired a proven winner as a head coach. The others took a flyer on unproven assistants as Baltimore Ravens’ running back coach Thomas Hammock was hired by NIU and Diaz went back to Miami.

Interestingly enough, all three schools return 14 starters from the 2018 squads. If the Owls are able to record the most wins of the three schools, the data won’t be complete on this experiment but will certainly point to a brighter future in Philadelphia than those other towns.

From a talent standpoint versus their respective leagues, there is not much to chose from the three experimental samples.

By December, someone should be able to write a pretty good case study.

Tuesday: Dear Rod Letter

Thursday: Who’s Coming and Going?

Saturday: Signing Day No. 2

Tuesday (2/12): Plugging Holes