In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Geoff Collins gives a well-deserved shout-out to a true Temple football legend, administrative assistant Nadia Harvin.
Nadia’s office has pre-dated the E-O and she goes way back to Bruce Arians, even though she must’ve made a deal with the devil (like Dorian Gray) because she doesn’t look a day over 26. She survived coaching changes through Jerry Berndt, Ron Dickerson, Bobby Wallace, Al Golden and Matt Rhule.
That’s saying something since new coaches like to bring in their own people.
Her hubby, Allen, was
a great running back for the University of Cincinnati but we will forgive him for that because he’s been Temple all (or most) of the way since.
(I pointed out to Allen on Cherry and White Day that Temple holds a significant lead in the all-time series against Cincinnati and he said, “Not when I was there.” I will have to look that up but I will take him at his word.)
Still, Collins would do well to sit down with Nadia and discuss the term legends from what I’ve been hearing from Temple guys who played back in the day.
Collins throws the term “legends” around like Frisbees, including recent guys like P.J. Walker, Haason Reddick, Tyler Matakevich but, to me, the “true” Temple legends are the guys (and girls, like Nadia) who have withstood the test of time like Steve Conjar and Paul Palmer.
When Matt Rhule took the head coaching job at Temple, I shot off an email congratulating him for getting the job.
Matt immediately emailed back and asked for my phone number. What followed was a cordial 35-minute phone call, where he picked my brain for names of guys who played at Temple, specifically back when he played at Penn State. He wanted to welcome them back into the fold.
When I casually mentioned that former head coach Bruce Arians was still close to his players and that I had Bruce’s personal cell phone number, Matt asked me for it. Since one of the players was the guy who gave it to me, I told Matt that I had to ask his permission.
I did, player said yes, and Matt thanked the player and his teammates by saying that the program wanted to welcome them. Matt got the lowdown from Bruce, then Matt developed a tight relationship with coach Wayne Hardin where he got to know the players of that era. Rhule went the extra mile, really few miles, to embrace those guys and make sure his players honored those who came before them.
There has been a slight difference, though, in the Collins’ approach and it definitely needs to be tweaked. While Collins did stop by at the Cherry and White tailgates of the older guys, I don’t get the vibe that he knows the older alums like he does the younger ones.
Neither do many of those guys.
While he knows all of the recent guys, he really has not reached out in the same way to some of the other guys.
“He acts,” one of them said to me, “like nothing happened at Temple football before Al Golden. This program did great things before Golden, like Heisman Trophy runnerups and finishing in the Top 20. With all due respect, none of the recent guys came close to that.”
That needs to change.
On a recent day devoted to high school coaches, Collins was introduced to a very special guy and was given his name.
“Coach, where do you coach?” Collins asked.
“Over at Haddon Heights in New Jersey,” the man said.
“It’s great seeing you. Thanks for coming.”
The man walked away, shaking his head.
That man, unbeknownst to Collins, was in my humble opinion the greatest player in Temple football history and a guy who should have won the 1986 Heisman Trophy.
His name was, and is, Paul Palmer. To me, that was a little like Nick Saban arriving at Alabama, meeting Joe Namath, and asking him which high school he coaches.
That introduction needs to be redone and guys like Conjar and Palmer deserve their place at the top of the Temple legend list and placed in front of a row of the more recent guys. These guys played at Temple through a lot of thick days remained loyal through a lot of thin ones afterward. For that, they deserve special thanks from the program, specifically its current CEO.
A phone call to Matt Rhule would set him on the proper path, as would a talk with Nadia.
Monday: Wandering Eye