Saturday: Fun With Graphics

baller

If anyone needs help to dress up his message, it’s Geoff Collins.

 

Four days ago Temple football made a little history by hiring college football’s first SWAG (Specialist With Advanced Graphics) and, if Geoff Collins’ handwritten slogans are any indicator, no one needs a SWAG more than Collins.

You can do a lot of fun things with graphics and no one is more perfect for that job than new coordinator Dave Gerson, who I have known since he was coming to Temple games as a pre-teen in the first year of the Al Golden Era. No one loves Temple football more than Dave and that love will translate into some fun times for Temple fans in the future. It even got a mention on ESPN. Until a five-star recruit has three hats on the table (Alabama, Ohio State and Temple) and puts on the Temple hat, it might be the last time Temple football gets mentioned on an ESPN crawl for anything but a score.

Golden was the first to realize that video was a good vehicle to promote the program and, in his first year, he hired a video coordinator named Fran Duffy (not to be confused with basketball coach Fran Dunphy). At the Owls’ first Golden football banquet, the coach introduced him this way: “Despite his age, he’s the best in the business.”

Golden must have been onto something because now Duffy is the Philadelphia Eagles’ video coordinator.

So it is in that spirit that we’re going to step away from the heavier topics like recruiting and coaching carousels and revolving doors and the viable long-term future of Temple football and provide some fun with graphics. So far, Gerson has just scratched the surface with some spruced-up slogans Collins thinks about at 3 in the morning and a couple of videos but the possibilities with images are endless.

In this case, images, the separated at birth ones.

Collins looks a little like Tony Soprano. There is even a parody twitter account dedicated to the resemblance.

collinstwitter

Former Owls’ linebacker Tyler Matakevich singer Ed Sheeran look like brothers (dirty red).

redsmall

Frequent Owl photographer Zamani Feelings and District Attorney Seth Williams have never been seen in the same room and that’s probably a good thing.

together

If you have any more Temple-football related resemblances, be it a current or past player or coach looking like someone else in the public sphere, post them in the comment section below.

Monday: Back to Serious Business

The Schedule: You Never Know

amcosked

Getting Stony Brook on someone else’s schedule is a plus.

Watching some of the recent episodes of Saturday Night Live, I miss some of the old characters like the ones played by the late John Belushi and Gilda Radner. (It’s still pretty good and Melissa McCarthy hit a home run with her skit on Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, but most of the skits are dribblers to second base, pop ups or strike outs.)

That’s not what it was like in the old days when Radner and Belushi were hitting home runs and guys like Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd and Billy Murray were routinely hitting doubles off the wall.

I thought about Gilda while thumbing down the recent release of the Temple 2017 schedule.

americansked

I would like another one of these bad boys, but it’s going to be tough.

One of her catch phrases was: “You never know.”

Look at the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2006 season. Before that year even started, fans on every talk radio show penciled in the team as losing three December games, at the Redskins, at the Giants and at the Cowboys in consecutive weeks and the doom and gloom got worse when Donovan McNabb was lost for the season with a broken leg before those three games. His backup, Jeff Garcia, came in and beat the Skins (21-19), Giants (36-22) and Cowboys (24-7) to win the NFC East.

You never know.

This time a year ago, many Temple fans (not me) were saying that the losses of players like Tyler Matakevich, Matt Ioannidis, Robby Anderson and Tavon Young meant Temple would take a step back from a 10-4 season of 2015.

templesked

I looked at a still-loaded roster and argued otherwise, that this was the “step forward” year and not the step back one. Since this year’s 10-4 included a championship, I was right.

You never know if I will be as right about this one but here it goes. I hope not to be as right about this season but I already knew about the teams Temple would play in 2017 and have always said this would be the “step back” year and not the step forward one.

It’s only a step, though. Owl fans can relax because we’re not falling into the mine shaft. Most Owl fans do not know how good Anthony Russo is. Having seen pretty much his entire high school career, I do and this how I will describe his upcoming Temple time: He won’t be as impressive as P.J. Walker was in his first season, but he will make you forget Walker in seasons two through four. (He’s not as elusive as Walker, but let’s not kid ourselves. P.J. was no Fran Tarkenton, Bobby Douglas or even Russell Wilson in the important skill of eluding pass rushers.)

So I stand by that prediction that it will be a slight step back, not a huge one.

I thought before Matt Rhule left that it would be a positive year for him to go 7-5 with a bowl win in 2017 and I think that is the measuring stick for new head coach Geoff Collins. If he goes 7-5, he’s just as good a coach as Rhule but I think there is a good chance he could go 8-4 or better. Listen, no one expects him to go 10-4 again and, if he does, Ed Foley is probably coaching Temple’s third-straight bowl loss.

The expectation here is eight wins and a bowl win and that’s in the “step-back” year because 2018 figures to be even better.

There is plenty of talent left on this team, even if you do not expect them to beat Notre Dame, Tulsa, Navy or South Florida. I’m not buying Houston. Wasn’t Temple the champion in the same league Houston could not win last  year? Didn’t Houston struggle on the road against teams like SMU, UConn and Navy in the last two years? Did not Temple win at all three of those places? I rest my case. Ryquell Armstead running behind the lead blocking of Nick Sharga with the explosive receivers Temple has is a good way to start. The defense should be outstanding once again. Any line that has Jacob Martin and Sharif Finch as the ends, and Karamo Dioubate, Michael Dogbe, Greg Webb and Freddy Booth-Lloyd in the middle with a secondary of Champ Chandler, Mike Jones, Delvon Randall and Artrel Foster will bring Mayhem.

The way Temple seasons have worked recently, though, is that they always have beaten someone you penciled them in for a loss before the season (i.e., Vanderbilt, 2014; Penn State 2015 and South Florida 2016) and always lost to someone you never expected them to lose to in the same season. Can we break that cycle this year?

I think so. Just hold serve.

If Collins holds serve, he will be our guy and probably hang around to coach the bowl win.

However, as Emily Latella would say: “You never know” but, gun to my head, I would pick eight over six or even seven and I will stand by that number.

(No posts Sunday or Tuesday due to minor surgery but God-willing will return Thursday)

Russo To Blackshear Could Be Epic

Sometimes decisions are so easy people term them no-brainers and they are the first ones to instinctively come to your gut.

Raheem “Speedy” Blackshear initially committed to Temple, then re-opened his commitment but, even looking at this objectively and not as a fan, sometimes the best decisions are the ones you make with your gut and, hopefully, in the next 10 days or so, the Archbishop Wood wide receiver listens to his gut and realizes the first impression he had was the right one.

Not only would Blackshear be playing in his hometown for a hometown team—meaning ALL of his friends and family could attend—and receiving a great education in the process, the pairing of this wide receiver and this quarterback could be Epic, as the kids say.

How do we know?

It’s already been Epic as current Temple quarterback Anthony Russo and Blackshear combined for 22 touchdowns and, more importantly, a Pennsylvania state championship in football two years ago. In that year, Russo and Blackshear demonstrated a kind of feel for each other in the open field that a great quarterback has with a great receiver. Temple fans know it when they see it and they have seen it with a only a few combinations—John Waller to Jim Callahan, Steve Joachim to Randy Grossman, Brian Broomell to Gerald “Sweet Feet” Lucear, Henry Burris to Van Johnson, Adam DiMichele to Bruce Francis and P.J. Walker to Robby Anderson over the last 50 or so years.

In the pros, you can think of Joe Montana to Jerry Rice or, for older Philly fans, Sonny Jurgensen to Tommy McDonald.

The last time an Epic Pair of state champions came to Temple at roughly the same time, P.J. Walker and Jahad Thomas, they took Temple on a pretty good ride. Because Russo went through his redshirt year, you could pretty much say that Russo and Blackshear will be coming onto the Temple football scene at the same time,too, should Blackshear keep his commitment. A Blackshear arrival will give Russo two guys with the kind of skill set that demands double-coverage as Russo’s current roommate, Isaiah Wright, is a next-level slot receiver. Can’t double cover both, so both should be open in the secondary the next three years at least and that means huge numbers the passing game.

The ride that Russo and Blackshear take Temple on could be even better than the P.J./Jahad one, but we will never know unless they are teamed up again. It could be Epic.

Wednesday: A Break For The G5

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

God And The Power 5

baylor

Amazing how $7 million can make someone (not me) a fan of another team so quickly.

When Matt Rhule took over the head coaching job at Baylor, one of the reasons he gave was that he was called to accept the position because of his faith.

That kind of stunned the people who knew him at Temple over nearly the last 10 years because no one had ever heard him mention his “faith” or “God” in a public statement in any of his press conferences at the Edberg-Olson Football Complex.

Many had just written off the comment as “playing to the audience.” That said, in his first press conference at Temple University, was his statement of “wanting Bill (Bradshaw) to allow me to sign a 15-year contract” also playing to the crowd?

Probably.

Still, I could see God listening to all of this and giving the Dikembe Motoembo “no” waving finger to Rhule on both counts.

That begs the question. How come God has never called for one of these big-time coaches to come help a lesser school than a Power 5 one?

You know, the same God who might agree with the Pope on this:

impossible

To me, God is the Being who says to go help the weaker become stronger.

In college football, that means telling the big-time coach to go help the G5 team, not the P5 team.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

The photo of Matt Rhule cheering for the Baylor basketball team does not sit well with me, not because I wish him ill but because it represents the perfect illustration of power and money over weakness and poverty.

It is amazing how $7 million dollars makes one a fan of another team so quickly.

I would like to think that if I was offered $7 million tomorrow to be a fan of, say, Alabama and reject my fandom of Temple that I would say no and I am fairly confident no amount of money could make me reject  the team I love.

God must love the Power 5 over the Group of 5. I’m still waiting (hell, praying) for the first photo of Nick Saban or Dabo Sweeney saying at a press conference that they have been called to a school like Temple or Navy because God called  them to go there.

Because God gave me common sense, I will not hold my breath but I would love to, err, God-willing live long enough to see that day.

Sunday: Recruiting Thoughts

New DC Johnson Has Been Here Before

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The last time Taver Johnson attended a Temple game the crowd was 1/15th this large.

The last time Temple fans saw Taver Johnson in action as a defensive coordinator, the Owls’ program was in the gutter and in desperate need of intervention.

Probably none of them remember him.

Then, Johnson was the DC at Miami (Ohio) and there was an announced crowd of 11,257 (“missing about 9,000 no-shows”  according to an AP story on the game) in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field but, in reality, you could count the crowd in about 20 minutes and probably come up with one third of that number. Outside, before the game, there were five fans tailgating in the rain in Lot K waiting for the game to begin right up to a half-hour before kickoff.

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Taver Johnson’s last stop was Purdue.

Five, as in the number that comes after four and before six, and the day will go down in Temple football infamy, Oct. 29, 2005. The entire lot was empty except for those five fans.

In all fairness, in those days there was a larger group of Temple tailgaters a couple of lots over at the Jethro Lot but those five in two cars were all that showed in Lot K that  rainy day.

The gloomy rain was a fitting backdrop for a program that hit rock bottom with only two directions apparent: Up or out. The talk of tailgate that day was speculating on the miracle man  who could save the program because then coach Bobby Wallace had already announced he was not coming back at the end of the year, nudged out by the administration. Rick Neuheisel’s name came up, as did Frank Solich’s. Al Golden was an unknown at the time to any of the five Temple fans left.

I know. I was one of them. The other four shall remain nameless, but they have all witnessed a rebirth in the program and the tailgate atmosphere that is truly remarkable. The Owls were able to start crawling out of the gutter a  couple of months later when a Virginia assistant coach named Al Golden, also a DC, was named head coach.

Johnson’s defense was impressive in a 41-14 win over the Owls, but so was every other defense that played against the Owls that year. That was the ninth loss in an 0-11 season on the way to 20-straight losses.

Now Johnson is back and will roam the sidelines in the same capacity this year as DC of the Owls. Ironically, same sideline, too, because the “home” side for Temple was the other side of the Linc in those days.

It seems like a good hire for new head coach Geoff Collins. In that year of 2005, Johnson presided over a Miami defense that spearheaded a 7-4 record. In addition to “holding” Temple to two touchdowns, his defense limited Cincinnati to 16 points, Buffalo to 13 and Ohio to 10.

That was Johnson’s only experience as a FBS defensive coordinator.  His most recent experience was Purdue defensive backs’ coach the last two years and that was the same Purdue team that gave up 63 points to Penn State. Still, he brings a mostly P5 coaching set to Temple and that has to be a plus because he will go on the recruiting trail looking for a P5 skill set. He was at Arkansas (linebackers and cornerbacks) in 2012 and 2013 and coached the cornerbacks at Ohio State from 2007-2012.

He even served as interim head coach of the Razorbacks.

When he finally roams the sidelines, he will see a whole other side of Temple, both on the field and in the stands, that he saw the first time and the impression should be a favorable one. We can only hope those fans have a favorable impression of the work Johnson does in their view, but we won’t know for sure until about midway through the 2017 season.

Friday: God and The Power 5

How Do We Know About Collins?

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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.

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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.