Wingard: One catch at Stanford, one catch for Temple

Dr. Jason Wingard played on this Stanford team in 1992.

Temple University football fans and Dr. Jason Wingard already have at least one thing in common:

Experiencing the sheer joy of celebrating a dominating football win over Penn State in a 10-win season.

Dr. Wingard (left) with former Eagle Troy Vincent

Wingard’s win, a 24-3 bowl game trophy, came in the 1992 season. Temple fans, of course, will always remember 9/5/15, a 27-10 season-opening win over Penn State. The Cardinal finished 10-3 in 1992, the Owls 10-4 in 2015.

Wingard’s career football stats were modest–a catch for five yards in that 1992 season–but he’s listed as playing on all 12 games that season. My best guess is that he was an offensive lineman because, despite being a track star at West Chester Henderson, he also has no interception or tackle stats at Stanford. He was listed as a 1992 pre-season All-American and pre-season All-Americans usually have stats on college football reference’s site (unless they are offensive linemen).

Jason Wingard’s career stats at Stanford.

Whatever, he’s one great catch as the next Temple University president.

That’s because going into the search I thought having a football guy would be important for the school’s search for national excellence. That’s because if you’ve ever put on a uniform, you are a competitive guy and want to win. Since his dad graduated from Temple, he’s a legacy pick. He’s from the suburbs, lives in Philadelphia now (Chestnut Hill) and probably knows the political lay of the land. If there’s a guy who can pull off a stadium, it’s him.

From Wingard’s first press conference, he mentioned a desire for Temple to be excellent in both academics and athletics.

As past President Peter J. Liacouras noted, the two are not mutually exclusive. You can be great in both.

Stanford is and, from all indications, Temple will be.

If he refuses to accept one-win seasons going forward, he has my support.

One of the interesting articles Dr. Wingard wrote as entitled “Want Millenials to Stay? Invest in Corporate Learning.”

Maybe he will be able to write a future piece on getting Gen Z’s to stay in a certain G5 college football program.

“How to succeed in college football’s transfer portal? Hire a winning charismatic head coach who not only wins but relates well to the players.”

That’s the kind of one catch Temple needs most now. The clock is ticking.

Monday: A Letter

A sucker bet or a sure thing?

This is how far we’ve fallen in six years.

One of the popular topics over on the message board is about the over/under win total involving our very own Temple Owls.

The 2.5 wins posted by Vegas seems an insult to a lot of Owl fans used to winning (pre-pandemic) an average of over eight games for the previous decade.

Yet some of the responses are sad and amusing in a way.

One of the fans said: “at 2.5 I will make a small wager” and another said “four wins is doable.”

I had to shake my head. That’s the kind of stuff I’m used to reading on the Rutgers’ board over the last decade or so, not the Temple one.

This is what Temple football has become, perception-wise, after two Rod Carey seasons.

Even the Owls’ own fans have some doubts and the expectations of even the most optimistic are rather low.

I hit the 2-4-3 trifecta on the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and came away with a paltry $43. The same winning $2 bet in 2019 (thanks to a tip from The Daily News’ Dick Jerardi) cashed me $637.50. (The difference being eight horses vs. 18 and only five good ones among the eight.)

I’ll stick with the horses.

Temple winning three or four games holds no particular appeal to me, not after being so close to a couple of 10-win seasons.

Talk of the “hope” of winning four games reminds me of the Bobby Wallace days and I so wanted to forget about them.

Temple’s expectations should be much higher than that.

I’m not even sure Carey or his staff have high expectations because I have not read a single quote from either the head coach or any members of his staff even mentioning a winning season or a championship. All I’ve seen from Carey is that we want to “field a team that plays hard that our fans will be proud of ….”

That’s pretty damn vague and designed to tamp down any expectations.

I’m sure a lot of 1-11 Temple teams played hard in the past but didn’t have the, err, horses.

As far as the bet itself, I don’t see–at least at this juncture–Temple being favored in any game other than Wagner and Akron so that’s one good reason to stay away. Put it this way: Temple was an inexplicable unforced error away from being 0-7 last year, lost 15 players and gained nine and more of the 15 were proven than most of the nine coming into the E-O.

It’s neither a sucker bet nor a sure thing but low expectations should be have been a thing of the past century, not the current one.

Friday: Opening Clues

What Could Go Wrong?

The quote is often attributed to Mark Twain but there is some debate over who said it first.

“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

Therein lies the rub for Temple football this season.

We outlined what could go right in Monday’s post but a lot of that was wishful thinking.

This one cuts to a lot of concerns about the Owls in 2021 because what could go wrong is Rod Carey doing the exact same things this year that he did the past two.

My Rod Carey Ephinany came in the second half of a 2019 Military Bowl loss to North Carolina.

Taking Ed Foley off the field was a bad mistake.

Several Owls were laughing and joking on the sidelines down 55-13, a score they eventually lost by that late December day.

I looked over to Carey and he just folded his arms and looked skyward.

Not to the players behind him yuking it up. Just skyward. None of his assistants did a damn thing.

I shook my head in disgust, picked up my program, and walked out of the stadium.

What would Al Golden have done?

What would have Matt Rhule?

You and i both know. They would have gone ballistic because what was happening behind them was much more important than what was happening in front of them at the time, at least in terms of the state of the program and that overused but appropriate word: culture.

There was no discipline from either Carey or his staff.

Plenty of departures from the program afterward from guys who were used to the pride and discipline.

There was no Temple TUFF on the field that day or Temple pride on the sidelines.

COVID, schmovid, it carried over to the 2020 season.

If Carey is going to survive at Temple, he needs to restore the tough level of play on the field and pride in wearing the Temple uniform on the sidelines and that involves locking down the little things like sideline demeanor.

The change is going to have to be manifested in CARING about the play of the special teams, which Golden correctly maintained was a third of the team just as important as the other two areas, offense and defense. Rhule felt the same way and, under Geoff Collins, the Owls were ranked in the top 10 in special teams. It helped that all three coaches had Ed Foley to put those units on auto pilot.

Don’t know if Carey felt this way at NIU but it always seemed to me that special teams were an annoyance to him and taking Foley off the field was proof.

Now he has to fix things that never needed fixing before at Temple and because he’s shown no inclination to fix them, that’s what could spiral the Owls downward toward a two-win season.

Can they change as a staff?

Maybe, but Twain earned a reputation of choosing his words wisely for a reason.

Monday: A Sucker Bet?

Friday: A history of openers

What could go right?

In less than 95 days, we will found out how good the Owls are.

It’s Memorial Day which signifies both a solemn and reflective day and the beginning of summer.

When it comes to Temple football, it’s solemn for a different reason in that Vegas has set the over/under for 2.5 wins so influential people on the outside think the Owls are not going to improve that position in the next three months.

Around Labor Day, though, a much clearer picture could emerge.

If this were, say, 2019 and the Owls were sitting on those expectations, it would be pretty grim but this is the era of the transfer portal and the Owls could be a much different team in three months.

Two wins is a pretty low bar but there are a number of things that could go right for the Owls not only to go over it but to surprise just about everyone with a winning season.

To me, they are improved on the offensive line, running back and at least as good in the wide receiver department.

The return of Ty Mason at one corner and bringing in a good Big 10 corner along with Freddie Johnson and a transfer from UConn makes the Owls improved at that position. Amir Tyler brings steady leadership to the safeties and William Kwenkeu and Audrey Isaacs are proven linebackers.

To me, quarterback and defensive line are unproven commodities.

If, say, D’Wan Mathis breaks out and tosses 30 touchdown passes or more and limits the interceptions, that’s one thing Vegas isn’t counting on happening.

If the Owls are able to bring in some defensive linemen who can stop the run and get after the passer–they already have three two-deep players from North Carolina and Kentucky coming in–that’s another.

Putting a real emphasis on special teams–and by that I mean blocking punts and field goals and returning kicks for big yardage–is a third area.

But, to me, it all comes down to the quarterback.

Protecting yours and putting the other guy’s on his back.

The Owls have the protection locked down and, in the coming months, they have to bring in some guys who are capable of breaking down the protection of the bad guy’s quarterback.

So far, the defensive line is just not good enough either in the stopping the run or getting after the passer department. Add a couple more edge rushers and run stoppers in what is still a very talent-rich portal and things could change. You’ve got to think Temple’s highly-paid staff knows this as well.

Their careers pretty much depend on attracting that kind of talent and the urgency is now, over the next three months, not next year or two years from now because they are staring down a 2-10 or 4-8 disaster otherwise.

That’s pretty much the hope we have going forward, that they know what everybody else knows.

Friday: What Could Go Wrong?

Monday: A sucker bet?

Ready for Prime Time?

For about the better part of the last year, my plan for the Rutgers’ game was to watch on TV with one hand covering an eye and the other eye catching the game.

With the recent announcement of the Owls’ opening date moving from Saturday, Sept. 4 to Thursday, Sept 2 history (at least for me) will be made.

No doubt in my mind had PJ sneaked behind Kyle the Owls would have beaten RU in Piscataway.

If the university doesn’t offer a bus (and I don’t think it will because of Labor Day Weekend), I’m planning to rent a car and drive to the game. It’s a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and it’s on the Big Ten Network.

It will be the first Temple game in at least 15 years I will not drink anything stronger than a Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry either pre- or post-game because I will be taking that rental down the Garden State Parkway and heading to the shore immediately afterward. For Temple fans who want to join me, our sections are 102, 103 and 104. You can wait for Temple to make an announcement for tickets in a couple of months or purchase them now.

You’ve heard about situations driving you to drink?

Rod Carey has driven me to be sober.

First, the 2004 Chevy Cavalier has 161,000 miles on it right now (probably 162,000 by game time) and it’s a perfectly good car that I trust for 5-mile drives to the store but not long distances.

Second, I have to have an escape plan without worrying about being stopped on the way to real fun.

If the Owls are losing, 44-0, at halftime, I’m outta there and headed for Stone Harbor by halftime.

If the Owls are winning, I’m staying to the end.

We’re No. 1 and RU is No. 2.

Are the Owls ready for prime time?

I don’t think so but I’m still going to be screaming my head off in the stands with however many Temple fans make the trip with me hoping they will win.

The penultimate time Temple played at Rutgers, Cap Poklemba kicked a field goal and Tanardo Sharps ran for over 200 yards in the rain and Temple won, 20-17. The Owls, who were kicked out of the Big East for being “non-competitive” ran over to the Big East logo and danced on it as an exclamation point. The same group of Owls won, 48-14, at Rutgers two years earlier and beat Rutgers four years in a row.

The last time Temple played at Rutgers a rookie coach named Matt Rhule had a 4th and 1 inch on the RU 20 and decided for a 5-yard deep handoff to Kenny Harper that turned into a five-yard loss when he could have had the day’s best quarterback, P.J. Walker, sneak for two inches behind the day’s best center, Kyle Friend. (Mind you, RU had no time outs left and a first down would have ended the game.)

Rutgers won on a late touchdown pass.

Live and learn.

Cap Poklemba holds up the 3 points his field goal beat RU by in 2002.

Rhule did, but too late to ever beat Rutgers.

If the lessons Carey learns from a 1-6 season makes him 6-2 against the Big 10, I’m hopping aboard the Rod Carey train. Don’t expect to, but it’s worth the trip nonetheless.

If Rod proves me and the so-called experts wrong, the post-game Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry will taste better than any Michelob Light and “T for Temple U” will be on a continuous loop all the way down to Fred’s in Stone Harbor.

Monday: What Could Go Right?

Hard to believe, Harry

Rod Carey finally has the kind of quarterback he needs to run his stuff. (Photo courtesy Zamani Feelings.)

Almost two decades ago the best color analyst ever do to local games turned to the best play-by-play guy and would often echo this catch phrase.

“Hard to believe, Harry.”

If Temple radio analyst Paul Palmer steals the line on opening night at Rutgers, chances are Rich Ashburn and Harry Kalas would forgive him.

The ageless Paul Palmer (left).

That’s because in all of my several decades of following Temple football, I can’t imagine a single season depending upon a single player like this one depends on D’Wan Mathis.

I can just picture the greatest player ever to wear Cherry and White (apologies to Dave Smuckler, who I never saw or Joe Klecko, who I did) saying this to another Harry (Donahue) before the Rutgers game.

“Hard to believe, Harry,” Palmer says, “but I can’t remember a single season depending upon one guy’s performance as it does with Duece.”

Even when Palmer was finishing runnerup for the Heisman Trophy in 1986, that team wasn’t as depended on him as this one is on Mathis. That’s because Palmer had a better supporting cast and good backups in guys named Todd McNair and Ventres Stevenson.

The bar has been set by Michigan State’s Anthony Russo.

Russo’s best complete regular season was in 2019 when he tossed 21 touchdown passes and had only 11 interceptions. That was good enough for eight wins.

You read it here first.

If Mathis just matches Russo’s 21 and 11, the Owls will have a winning season.

Eight wins?

Probably not because Russo’s 2019 supporting cast was better than the cast head coach Rod Carey has put together.

I can see six wins and a bowl win with those kind of stats.

Maybe 7-6 tops.

Do I think Mathis is going to do it?


I think Mathis is more likely to do something like 15 and 15 and that’s just not good enough. The “experts” probably agree with that assumption because the Owls are pretty much the consensus AAC pick for last place.

It’s not set in stone though because that’s why they play the games on the field and not on paper.

Hard to say because he had more interceptions than touchdown passes in his short stint as a FBS starter last year. It’s asking a lot for a running quarterback to be as durable as a dropback passer, so Mathis is going to have to both produce and avoid the big hit.

Of course, there’s always the possibility Mathis could explode for 30 plus TDs and maybe eight interceptions but that’s living in fantasy land given his short history.

Whatever, there is a big target on his back and that’s a lot of pressure for one young man to accept. Let’s hope he’s one of those guys who thrive on pressure because the dropoff behind him is significant.

There’s no McNairs or Stevensons waiting in the wings at the most important position on the team.

Probably even Harry (Donahue) would concede that point.

Friday: Prime Time

Monday: What Could Go Right?

Friday: What Could Go Wrong?

5 Famous Temple coaching lines

Rod Carey’s best Temple highlight was beating Geoff Collins. We expected more and hope to get it.

Pouring over the things Rod Carey has said since his arrival at Temple I was quite frankly stunned by this statement repeated many times over the last few months or so:

“We dealt with Covid and, quite frankly, Covid won,” Carey said.

That got me to thinking.

If Carey goes 2-10 this year (as expected by most of the outside experts), that will probably be the one statement he will be remembered for here. That’s because even with a lame duck Temple administration and questionable athletic leadership, I cannot imagine Carey surviving a 2-10 season at Temple.

Could it happen?

Sure, because his current boss survived a 9-22 season Temple. The difference, though, is that boss gave Temple three-straight league championships and this one did not.

The other difference is that schools from metro AAC cities like Memphis and Cincy and Tulsa also had to deal with Covid and were able to wrestle Covid to the ground.

Was the City of Philadelphia’s response to Covid more draconian than Memphis, Cincy or Tulsa? Perhaps but not enough to be the difference between Cincy’s 8-0 and Temple’s 1-6.

If Carey loses this season, he’s going to have to come up with a different excuse or that quote is what he will be forever remembered here.

Let’s go over what the prior Temple coaches will be remembered for saying, in no particular order:

Steve Addazio: “”I love the feel of Philadelphia. This place fits my personality . The more I’m here, the more excited I am.”

Translation: Boston also fits my personality, especially after a 4-7 season.

Al Golden: “We’re going to build a house of brick, not straw. “

Translation: Thanks, Al. You were one of the few Temple coaches who delivered what he said he would deliver. Golden could have taken a shortcut and recruited a team of JUCO All-Americans who might have gotten him the UCLA job after year one or two but he recruited from the ground up and it took him five years to right the ship.

Matt Rhule: “For me, it means a promise has been fulfilled. Temple University has been unbelievable to my family and I. Ten years we have spent here, and it has been nothing but class. Tremendous people from the Board of Trustees to the administration to the people I work with day-to-day in athletics. The people who have stood by my side. The true thing for me is to have these players who call themselves champions because that is the way they live their lives. When you win this conference, you have done something special. This is a fantastic conference with great teams from top to bottom. We have tremendous respect for everyone that we play. We can say that we did it. That is the accomplishment.”

Translation: That’s all Temple fans could ever ask for and Matt Rhule will be forever remembered as an icon because of that title.

Geoff Collins: “We will compete for championships, we will provide a world-class student-athlete experience and education, and we will represent the community with pride.”

Translation: Competing for championships doesn’t mean winning one, like Rhule did.

That brings us to our favorite quote this week from Temple offensive lineman Isaac Moore, courtesy of OwlsDaily and a tip of the hat to that site’s Shawn Pastor: “It’s Temple. You cannot lose here. Everyone knows that.”

Thanks, Isaac, for providing the mantra going forward.

Since that best represents my fervent hope for the fall of 2021, that’s my favorite Temple quote of the year. If losing to Covid in 2020 means refusing to lose in 2021, that’s a trade I’m willing to accept.

Monday: Setting the Bar

Temple football: Light at end of the tunnel

Nowhere can June 11 be found on the Temple football calendar but it recently became one of the most important days of the year.

That’s when the City of Philadelphia gave the go-ahead for “capacity” crowds at Lincoln Financial Field.

Or capacity such as it has meant for Temple football in the past, meaning sellouts for opponents like Notre Dame and Penn State and about half or less capacity for the others.

That means full tailgating in Lot K before the game.

In the months up to the city’s announcement, there was a lot of angst and speculation and more of the former rather than the latter.

What was Temple football 2021 going to look like, if not on the field than certainly in the stands or in the parking lots. There was a real fear as recently as prior to spring practice that there would be no tailgating and limits on the crowds.

Now we have a better idea of what football is going to be like and that appears to be a return to 2019 from a pre-game point of view, socializing and no masks and burgers on the barbie and brews in the coolers.

As far as on the field, that light at the end of the tunnel that looked like an oncoming train just might be a little bit of sunshine after all.

Rod Carey has paid no (none, zero, nada) to special teams for the two years he’s been here but now, with the addition of preferred walk-on Noah Botsford it looks like the Owls are at least trying to build a special teams ark. The punter and placekicker comes with real bonafides.

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming describes Botsford “as consistent as they come” and “big-time” and says Botsford has a range of 52 yards, getting better than closer he is to the goal post.

Since Aaron Boumerhi was allowed to walk to Boston College (supposedly told by Carey that he couldn’t guarantee his scholarship), the Owls’ placekicking game has been an unmitigated disaster. Will Mobley was reliable from only extra-point range but even then the block of his extra point was returned for two points in a 15-13 loss to Cincinnati was a killer. IF that would have had it been executed correctly it meant given a 14-13 win for the Owls against a team that beat Boston College, 37-13, later that year in a bowl game.

Before Boomer, the Owls had reliable long-distance field goal specialists like Austin Jones and Brandon McManus. Way back before that it was guys like Cap Poklemba, Billy and Bob Wright, Jim Cooper Sr. (not Jr.), Don Bitterlich and Nick Mike-Mayer. One kicker doesn’t fix special teams (Owls still have to relearn how to block and return kicks) but that kind of leg certainly helps.

That was always an area where Temple fans put on auto pilot.

The last two years have been more like demolition derby.

Could Carey addressing an area of need like kicker be an indication that special teams now becomes a priority? Maybe, maybe not, but Lemmings description of “as dependable as they come” reminds me more of the way it was with guys like Jones and McManus.

So maybe that light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train after all. One way or another, all of us will find out in person soon enough.

Friday: Five Memorable Lines

Newcomers: Saying all the right things

Other than the occasional PBS series by Ken Burns, I found myself slowly but surely drifting away from watching network television since the wonderful shows of the 60s and 70s (Twilight Zone, Bewitched, even Mr. Ed, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, etc.). When I get home from work, I gravitate to some very good Youtube free TV content like Bald and Bankrupt (about an English guy visiting Russia), The Daily Woo (about a Florida guy visiting quirky places), Arms Family Homestead (about an Oklahoma family living a normal farm life), etc. Pretty amazing that normal people can put on more entertaining stuff than the best sitcom writers in Hollywood today.

To me, at least, that homegrown content hits, err, home and says all of the right things.

I found a little of that this spring on the Temple football twitter account.

Not knowing much about our new quarterback (D’Wan Mathis), I gravitated to this interview of him:

One minute and winning games was right at the top of the list.

While we didn’t hear too much about “winning games” from Rod Carey in the month-long spring practice, it took first-team starting quarterback Mathis about three seconds to mention the two most beautiful words in the interview “winning games.”

That pretty much cut to the chase for me.

Like the homegrown generated Youtube content referenced in the initial paragraph, Temple football has been a mostly entertaining few hours for me every fall because of the winning decade between 2009-2019.

The 1-6 disgusting and disgraceful 2020 season needs to be erased as soon as possible.

If Carey isn’t going to put the emphasis on winning, I’m glad the kids are because those are the guys who need to make the plays necessary to make it happen.

Here’s Will Rodgers:

Will Rodgers should upgrade the pass rush.

To me, the key to winning in college football is putting the opposing quarterback on his ass consistently. That leads to fumbles and interceptions and Rodgers, who already has nine Power 5 sacks to his credit at Washington State, should help the Owls in that area. He’s an upgrade over the guy (who shall remain nameless) who transferred to Penn State.

Keeping Mathis’ jersey clean is the other key and the Owls’ offensive line is one of their strongest units.

These two interviews suckered me back into buying season tickets and, if these two guys bring me a win over Rutgers, I’m all aboard the Rod Carey train. (Err, not holding my breath, though.)

Anything less and it could be a fall totally dedicated to ONLY Lot K tailgating or, even worse, bike riding and jogging on Saturday afternoons. My preference is for Temple Owl wins and at least these two newcomers said the right things.

Talking the talk is a start. Walking the walk is more important but now at least we know there is a possibility for some entertaining content starting Sept. 4. The remote will be reserved for away games.

For home games, my season ticket check is in the mail.

Going inside for the entirety of the season will depend on getting off to a good start. I have a feeling a lot of Temple fans feel the same way.

Monday: The Tunnel

North Philly’s Five Fastest Humans

As anyone who follows the SEC knows, speed kills.

It’s important to be big but it’s more important to be big and fast.

Since the end of the Al Golden Era, we’ve been trying to get 40 times of the Temple football Owls with mixed results. At the season-ticket holders’ party, I collared then head coach Geoff Collins and asked him a couple of random questions.

One: “Who is the fastest guy on the team?”

Geoff: “Jeremy Jennings ran a 4.3 40, a couple of other guys a 4.4. We’ve got a few in his class.”

Bernard Pierce posted a 4.55 in his 40-time in the NFL combine and that, plus his numbers on the field at Temple, got him a third-round draft pick. That was an interesting time for Pierce because, when he was a senior at Glen Mills, his 10.8 indoor time in the 100 meters was the best of any high school athlete in Pennsylvania that year. It might have been a disappointing combine time for Bernard, but the league didn’t seem to think so.

Haason Reddick was even faster (4.54) in the combine and that was a ridiculous number for a linebacker/DE, faster than even Pierce’s NFL combine.

That got him a first-round pick.

Now the 2021 Owls seem to have some serious speed especially if Collins’ claim about Jennings was correct.


Haason Reddick’s speed caused this fumble at Memphis in the 2013 game. Reddick wore three numbers at Temple (33 in 2013), 58 the next two years and 7 his senior year.

If so, the latest speed figures above (only noted as 20s on the Owls’ football twitter site) show some guys with better speed numbers than Jennings. It’s probably not 20 yards or 20 feet, but a series of times converted into MPHs.

If Jennings was the fastest on the team in 2018, it shows Georgia quarterback transfer D’Wan Mathis is right there in the same ballpark, as are Kadas Reams, M.J. Griffin and D’Von Fox.

When was the last time Temple had a quarterback who was the fastest guy on the team?

Err, maybe never. Walter Washington was a great running quarterback and P.J. Walker was more than adequate, but neither one was close to the fastest guy on the team.

Mathis might be.

That means that, in one of those RPO plays head coach Rod Carey likes to run, instead of pitching it to Iverson Clement, Mathis is able to turn the corner and go to the house on just about any play.

That could make things interesting this fall.

Other fast Owls seems to be Jennings, who converted from WR to DB in the offseason,, backup wide receiver Fox, safety Griffin and wide receiver Reams.

Those aren’t the only fast guys. We all know Jadan Blue and Randle Jones can fly, as can corner Freddie Johnson, among others.

They are probably among the fastest humans, not only around 10th and Diamond, but probably in all of North Philly. Hopefully, that speed translates to some serious playmaking starting Sept. 4.

Friday: The best words out of spring practice