Mulligans and Aliens

americansked

Temple should have capitalized on having this to recruit a decent class this season.

A friend who is an amateur astronomer posted a photo of some far-off galaxy on Facebook and apologized for the quality of the photo due to atmospheric conditions.


A Virginia Tech model,
where you make a bowl
every year and reach
up and win a title
here and there, should
be a realistic
expectation for Temple
at the G5 level

My response was that someone from that galaxy probably posted a photo of the Milky Way with the same apology on, say, Cleon Facebook.

In other words, we’re not alone.

It’s a lesson Temple football fans would be wise to understand today, a couple of weeks after Signing Day. The prevalent feeling on the major Owl message board (Shawn Pastor’s OwlsDaily) is that we’re giving new head coach Geoff Collins a Mulligan on this class, but the next class better be good.

The lesson should have been don’t look back because the other beings in this football universe might be gaining on you.

That’s where the other guy comes in because new coach Charlie Strong did not need a Mulligan to haul in a significantly better class for USF and former Temple head coaches Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule did not need a Mulligan in their first transition classes. Despite working about a month, the classes that Golden, Addazio and Rhule brought in their first time were ranked significantly higher than Collins’ first class.

In between preparing for a medical procedure I should have done 10 years ago but had been putting off, I found a little bit of time to look at those classes.

The Charlie Strong class was easy to find. The other classes were much harder to quantify against this one. (You really only know four years from now but you can compare them against how they were ranked at the time.)  According to Scout.com, Strong’s USF transition class this season was ranked No. 95th with seven three stars. In roughly the same time frame to recruit, Collins had Temple was 127th with only three three-stars. In the same conference, both teams with a new head coach, a significant gap in results.

Strong did not have a championship trophy to carry around on a helicopter, either. It’s fair to compare the two classes. Because we have evidence to work with given roughly the same circumstances, Collins should have done better. You can talk all you want about how it is the “Temple Way” to recruit two stars and coach them up to four stars but if you get three stars, your mathematical chances of coaching them up to four- and five-stars improve. Temple should be OK next year, but the impact of this class won’t be felt until three or four years down the road and that is how a foundation is laid for sustainable success, not just one “up” season followed by a “down” season. At Temple, the goal should not be “up and down” seasons like so many other schools seem to have. A Virginia Tech model, where you make a bowl every year and reach up and win a title here and there, should be a realistic expectation for Temple at the G5 level.

An AAC trophy should have meant a better haul than the 2017 class Collins was able to bring to 10th and Diamond and long-term is where the impact will be felt. Without helicopters or AAC trophies, Temple coaches have done better with roughly a month to recruit.

transition

 

While it might have been tough to expect Collins to do a whole lot with this class, the evidence is there in black and white that he should have done better. In college football, getting to the top is tough but staying there is tougher so capitalizing on a championship season when you can with recruiting should have been prioritized.

There are a lot of football teams in this universe and, if you slip up one year, they could be passing you in two or three. There are no Mulligans when you are not alone.

Saturday: Fun With Graphics

Press Conference Translations

alexholley

Fool us once, shame on you.

Fool us twice, shame on me.

Fool us three times, and we never get fooled again.

That’s where the relationship now stands between many (not all) Temple fans and new head coach Geoff Collins and very little of it is the poor guy’s fault. In fact, it might be the way the fan base accepts the revolving aspect of every subsequent coach who walks through the Edberg-Olson door.

In various ways, Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule pledged fidelity to the Cherry and White only to exit stage left at the very first opportunity to jump to a Power 5 program. The last coach said it would take a perfect job for him to leave Temple and he left for a job that is far from perfect. Golden left for a school, Miami, that he knew was about to be hit with sanctions. Addazio left for a Boston College team that went winless in the two major sports (football and men’s basketball) in the ACC last year. That’s pretty hard to do.

Meanwhile, Temple wasn’t a bad job in comparison. The Owls won a pair of AAC East title and an overall title under Rhule, and beat a Big 10 school, an ACC school and a SEC school in prior five years.

What Coach Collins Really Said …. Translations
“It’s been a busy month-and-a-half since I last saw you guys.” “Between press conferences, my ex-buddy Matt Rhule stole two of my recruits.”
“It doesn’t matter what the outside people say about the number of stars we have. We play. We’re tough. We’re going to work. I think that’s a pretty special edge to have.” “I’m going to have to do what Matt did. Coach the two stars up to four stars. It’ll be a little different from Florida, where I could coach a four-star up to a five-star so we’ll see what happens.”
“We went into Florida, we went into Georgia and in the future, those are going to be targets for us but in this day and age, especially in the culture that’s in Philadelphia, we make sure we surround this area and supplement people from Florida and Georgia and other places.” “Matt got Harrison Hand and Rob Saulin to decommit from Temple to go to Baylor and I tried to get a couple of the kids I was recruiting for the Gators to do the same, but it didn’t work out.”
“The way the recruiting weekends have been set up, the staff has done an amazing job … they dove in and whatever needed to be done, they did it.” “I wish the basketball team would have had a packed house for one of those weekends so we had a little more juice in the building.”
“It’s nice to walk around this great town and get noticed. To get noticed in Philadelphia, it’s mind-blowing.” “I like South Philly macaroni.”

So excuse some Temple fans for looking for clues about how the new guy will handle the Elephant in the Room. There have been two tests of Collins so far and he has not passed them. In the press conference, he stumbled over a question from Zach Gelb about promising current recruits he would be here when they graduate by saying he tells them only to be concerned about the present.

Keeping all of the Rhule recruits and bringing in a good core group of three-star recruits who would be key contributors three years down the line would have been another sign that Collins was planning to stay for a while, but this class screams short-term solutions and not long-term ones. Plugging immediate holes, like cornerback, but not addressing long-term needs for accomplished linemen on both sides of the ball could be interpreted as the moves of a guy who plans to be here one or two years at most and bolt like Usain.

This is a dangerous development for at least a couple of reasons. One, at least Rhule followed the “Golden Rule” of Al that he was here to build a “foundation of brick, not of straw.” Even though we all knew Golden was looking to get out, he didn’t cut corners. He built the program by recruiting what he called a “full team” every year, 25 guys (11 offense, 11 defense, a couple of specialists) and then redshirting the guys who needed the year in the weight room. Addazio departed from that plan by burning redshirts and also recruiting for immediate needs (i.e, Montel Harris to replace Bernard Pierce).

The second, and probably more important, residue of this is that this forces Temple to keep hiring new head coaches every couple of years. If Collins is the “home run” Rhule says he is, the next guy after him might not be. No one can expect Pat Kraft to make a great hire every time. Charlie Theokas hired Jerry Berndt and Ron Dickerson and Dave O’Brien hired Bobby Wallace. The recent run of Golden-Daz-Rhule has been decent, but the percentages don’t look good if you look at the big picture.

Even Babe Ruth didn’t hit home runs every time he came to the plate. The next guy is just as likely to pop out as he is to slam one over the fence. One day Temple is going to have to find a way to remove that revolving door from the E-0 and make it a vault.

Or at least one of the good ones is going to decide his Acres of Diamonds is right here.

Friday: The Schedule

Helicopter Recruiting

Did not like the way this chopper took off. Ed Foley must have been flying.

Helicopter Parenting is a term that has been around for a while and it means a parent or parents who take an excessive interest in the lives of their children, almost to an unhealthy level.

helicopterparent

Geoff Collins thanks God he landed safe and sound.

A much more recent phrase is Helicopter Recruiting, and that has an entirely different connotation. What might be unhealthy parenting usually translates into healthy recruiting and recruits almost universally love to be recruited that way.

Plus, it enables a coach to get to a lot of places on the same day.

Count new Temple football head coach Geoff Collins as a devotee of Helicopter Recruiting, something old coach Matt Rhule did not particularly like.

The first coach from the area who did this was Greg Schiano at Rutgers eight years ago and it produced some outstanding recruiting classes for the Scarlet Knights.

Right now, Temple fans will settle for Collins holding serve with most of Rhule’s 16 committed recruits and that apparently is the plan. If Collins can poach a couple of Power 5 recruits, something that Rhule and Al Golden seemed to do toward Signing Day, that can only be considered a bonus.

Really, Collins cannot be fairly judged by this recruiting class. We hear he’s a great recruiter, but that will be determined by his next class, not his first. One recruit we can talk about is Florida quarterback Todd Centeio because he already is enrolled at Temple and in the luxurious Morgan Hall. He’s a three-star and undoubtedly will give the other quarterbacks a run for their money.

Todd Centeio already is enrolled at Temple.

We usually do not like to talk about specific recruits in this space because of two reasons. One, these guys have not signed their names on the dotted lines yet and, two, the NCAA has specific rules against contacting recruits and we adhere to them.

If such news breaks our way, we’ll report it but, for now, we will leave the Helicopter recruiting to a good pilot named Geoff Collins.

Tuesday: The Patenaude Effect

Cherry and White Bowls Matter

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Temple vs Wake Forest

These are the disturbing images Owls have seen walking off the field the last two seasons.

rockets

The next time someone tells you a bowl game is a meaningless post-season exhibition game, tell them the story of the last two Temple football seasons.

Each time, the Owls flushed down the toilet the priceless ring of a Top 25 finish by losing to underdogs.

That meant that Vegas had faith in the Owls—1.5 favorites over Toledo and 12.5 favorites over Wake Forest—but that circumstances prevented the Owls from winning and appearing in the Top 25 for two straight seasons. Vegas is usually right, so something went terribly wrong for the Owls at the end of the last two seasons.

If that weren’t enough in and of itself (it is), consider this: Top 25 voters the next year, for the most part, are lazy journalists who just list the teams who were from the Top 25 the year before. Those teams have a built-in advantage over the rest of the other 102 FBS teams because, once in that Top 25 club, you have to play your way out. It is much harder to play your way in from the outside.

That’s the way college football works.

Had the Owls, No. 24 in the CFB poll, beat Wake Forest, they would have likely risen above fellow state school Pittsburgh, the No. 23 team, that lost to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl. Had they beaten Wake Forest coming off a win over Toledo the year prior, they would have established themselves as a more permanent Top 25 presence and that perception in a pro town like Philadelphia would have been invaluable.

We now know why that did not happen. The Owls went heavy on the fun and sun in Boca two bowls ago and, this year, the entire defensive staff missed eight practices leading up to the bowl game.

A Temple program that hemorrhages coaches out the door of the E-O is doomed to this fate, unless new coach Geoff Collins sticks around for a few years. He almost certainly is assured to be here through a bowl game next year and this is where the Owls must make their move for 2018, by establishing themselves in the Top 25 with a bowl win and setting themselves up for upward mobility a year after that.

The Owls should be in a bowl next season and, once there, the entire Temple community from the Board of Trustees to the football element must realize how valuable it is to win this time. That should be the “unfinished business” Collins makes sure is transacted next year under, hopefully, a new and more original slogan.

 

Wednesday: Waiting For A Puff of Gray Smoke

Friday: God And The Power 5

Sunday: Threading The Needle

How Do We Know About Collins?

geoffrey

Great story on Coachingsearch.com about Geoff Collins.

About a year ago, just about every Rutgers’ fan was singing the praises of getting an Urban Meyers’ disciple in then Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash.


“Over the last 4
years, I’ve helped
Matt (Rhule) with
key decisions within
the program; philosophy
shifts at different times.”
_ Geoff Collins

A few of those same fans are singing a different tune about Ash now. Rutgers lost to Michigan, 78-0; Ohio State, 58-0 and Penn State, 38-0 (yes, the same Penn State team that beat Temple by a measly touchdown). The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 2-10 season and some people are questioning his game day coaching ability. Even the media has joined in as NJ.com called the loss to Michigan State “all on Chris Ash.”

The point being the 100 percent praise Ash received a year ago mollified considerably after watching the guy with the clipboard in his hands.


If those decisions
were to utilize
the fullback to
jump start an ailing
running game and ditch
the four wides and
go to a play-action
passing game, expect
Temple to head to
a NY6 bowl under Collins

Geoff Collins has received universal praise as Temple’s new hire, just like Ash did a year ago at Rutgers, so the question some fans might ask about Collins is “How do we know he won’t be a Chris Ash?”

You know, like another hot assistant, like UConn’s Bob Diaco—the national college football assistant coach of the year in 2012 with Notre Dame—who falls on his face as a head coach. Heck, we don’t know if Ash will join Diaco but a 2-10 first season with one of the wins over Howard doesn’t engender a lot of confidence among the North Jersey faithful. What they have learned in East Hartford and Piscataway is being the greatest assistant coach in the world does not automatically translate to being a great head coach. They are two different jobs and even Matt Rhule had a rocky first couple of years. For every assistant who turns into a great head coach like Rhule, there are 10 guys like Diaco who need to get fired. Head coaches who move from one place where they did well as a head coach to another have a higher rate of success. Those are the guys P5 schools can afford to hire.

As far as assistants go, the answer is we do not know, but the weight of the evidence is in Collins’ favor over Ash or Diaco.

goldenash

RU fans wanted Golden over Ash in this poll.

The truth is, with an assistant coach, you never know but there are a couple of things with Collins that give him a little more street cred than say, an Ash or a Diaco. One, the Temple program is in much better shape, player-wise, than the Rutgers or UConn. Two, no less of an authority on Temple football than Matt Rhule himself said the hire of Collins was a “home run” and, three, in two coaching stops along with way, Collins was Rhule’s boss, not the other way around. Rhule learned from Collins. Four, Collins was a coordinator, not a “co-coordinator” like Ash, so you know the Florida Mayhem defense was his production and there are no blurred lines on who contributed what. Collins already has been a coach at Temple of sorts over the last four years as “helped Matt with key decisions within the program” according to this interview.

If those decisions were to utilize the fullback to jump start an ailing running game and ditch the four wides and go to a play-action passing game, expect Temple to head to a NY6 bowl under Collins.

Now all Collins has to do is perform on game day and, from what he has done in the days leading up to his first one, all systems are go for a great liftoff.

Fake News And The Coaching Search

The entire press conference, including a question and answer session.

Under the category of “Fake News” had to be all of the names floated as possible replacements for Matt Rhule over the last 10 or so days.

With few exceptions, those names almost gave me a heart attack and certainly gave me agita—not the heartburn definition, but the “more aggravation than I can stand” second definition.

Let’s count the names: K.C. Keeler, Danny Rocco, Neal Brown, Matt Canada, Tim Beck and Chris Klieman and those were just some floated by Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

alexholley

                                                                       Philly TV treasure Alex Holley is stunned that future Philly football treasure Geoff Collins does not wear socks.

With just about everyone, my initial—and only reaction—was “you’ve got to be kidding me.” Keeler was fired from Delaware and coming off a 65-7 loss to James Madison. You would be doing Sam Houston State a favor by taking that guy off its hands. Rocco was being interviewed by Delaware, which is really a step down from the same position he was already holding at Richmond. (Rocco got beat, 42-14, by Stony Brook this year.) Canada was fired at N.C. State a year ago as offensive coordinator before being rescued by his friend, Pat Narduzzi, at Pitt. Neal Brown (Troy) and Chris Klieman (North Dakota State) have zero connections to Philadelphia and no understanding of Temple. Beck is the “co-offensive coordinator” at Ohio State, so we don’t know if he was responsible for the good plays or the bad plays. Plus, you’ve got to believe Urban Meyer has the big input there.

With those backgrounds, when the news hit the radio that Geoff Collins was hired by Temple there was a huge sigh of relief. Compared to those guys, Collins sounded like the Second Coming of Vince Lombardi. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that Temple intentionally floated those horrible choices to make this one look even better but that’s probably giving Temple too much credit.

The truth is no one really knew who the targeted guy was until the morning of the announcement and that is the real credit  Dr. Pat Kraft deserves.

This was a guy who came out of left field and was not even in the speculation, but a guy who fit what Temple was looking for infinitely better than some of the names floated. It makes you wonder who Narducci’s “source” was because Temple did not even consider some of those names he reported as being interviewed. Temple denies being involved with the only name that made any sense that Narducci floated, Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder.

Maybe it’s just as well.  Temple fans dodged some pretty bad ammunition before Kraft caught Collins in his netting.

“Temple hit a home run when they hired him,” no less an authority than Matt Rhule said upon hearing the news.

I believe Matt simply because from what Collins has said, he does not appear to be the kind of guy who will be stumbling to find his way as a head coach like Rhule was here the first couple of years. Rhule sacrificed immediate wins while trying to implement a system that did not fit the talents of his players. Collins, on the other hand, is a coach who said he believes in tailoring his schemes around the talents of the players he has in the program. I believe he is a guy who says what he means and means what he says.

If so, he is just the kind of guy who will hit the ground running and a baton carrier is really the only thing this program needs right now.

Tuesday: A Coach Collins Primer

 

Mayhem’s Already Here

footprint

Temple’s defense is No. 1 in the nation in DL havoc rate and No. 9 in overall havoc rate.

Funny how one of college football’s best nicknames can originate essentially in the basement of a Vanderbilt University grad student, but that’s what led to Temple head football coach Geoff Collins being called the “Minister of Mayhem.”

A couple of years ago, Collins was pouring over some defensive statistics that he especially liked and stumbled upon the mayhem stat, which was developed by Stephen Prather, a student going for his Master’s at Vanderbilt.

ranking

Temple is No. 3 in overall defense.

Simply put, the “Mayhem” stat counts the percentage of plays on defense that end in a sack, fumble, tackle for loss or interception and those are the kind of stats Collins gears his defensive scheme to achieve. His players then started calling him the “Minister of Mayhem” and the nickname stuck.

If Collins is the “Minister of Mayhem” then he probably already met the “Kings of Mayhem” and they are our own Temple Owls. Temple’s DL is No. 1 in the nation in “Havoc Rate” which is a team’s total tackles for loss, passes defensed, and forced fumbles.

The defensive footprint stats, which roughly parallel Prather’s and Collins’ favorite stats, already have Temple has the nation’s No. 1 disrupting defense. Since Collins will probably not be his own defensive coordinator, he probably has a guy in mind right now to implement his system.

Who that will be is only known to him, but he will probably come from a group of coaches he met along the way in stops that started at Albright, went to Georgia Tech, Alabama, Mississippi State and Florida.

Meanwhile, he should be observing and taking notes at the Military Bowl because whatever he has in mind for the Owls’ defense are things they already are doing very well.

Sunday: Dodging Bullets

Tuesday: A Coach Collins Primer

Thursday: Eyes On The Prize