Spring (Practice) Is In the Air


This is what will be on the ground for the first day of spring practice

Like last year’s Temple football team for instance, the last month of weather has been a tease. Those back-to-back 77-degree days of late February have been replaced by some brutal cold since. Since last year ended OK (not great), we’ll say by Cherry and White Day it will be nice and warm.

We think.

The calendar says the Owls start spring practice tomorrow, but it won’t look that way. Spring practice is in the air. Spring, on the other hand, seems a long way away.


At least the new indoor facility is the equal to anything a P5 team has.

Either way, the Temple Owls’ football team will have to deal with the 1-3 inches on the ground or move the first practices of the “spring” a couple of blocks away to the spectacular new $50 million Aramark Star Facility at 15th and Montgomery.

That’s a call for head coach Geoff Collins to make, though.

Bruce Arians used to come to Geasey Field on spring practice days—there was no indoor facility back then—and open with “get your work done” in that Southern accent he developed while a player at Virginia Tech, even though he was from York, Pa.

Either in rain, sleet or snow, the Owls have a lot of work to do to address these questions (in no particular order):

What will Trad Beatty’s role be?

The super quarterback recruit from South Carolina obviously is a Dave Patenaude favorite but, in the entire history of Group of Five football, no true freshman starter has led his team to a G5 league championship. That factor has to be weighed in the development of Beatty and the goal of the Owls to win the 2018 AAC title, just like they did the 2016 one. In Frank Nutile, they have a bowl-winning quarterback and a guy who has the best passing stats in the nation against a rush. Juice will be awfully tough to beat out.

Who are the defensive backfield replacements?

The Owls lose three of their four starters at the key positions of cornerback and safety. The only returner is first-team AAC safety Delvon Randall. They will have to plug around the edges. The speedy Linwood Crump Jr. has the inside track on the left corner spot, while the right corner spot will probably be occupied by Rock Ya-Sin, a first-team All Big South performer who had more interceptions against Wake Forest (one) in 2016 than the whole Temple AAC championship team did.

Other than Ya-Sin, who starts immediately?

My money is on Nickolas Madourie, an incoming junior college transfer from Dakota College at Bottineau in North Dakota. Shortly after former Central Florida coach Scott Frost took the same position at the University of Nebraska earlier this month, Madourie rescinded his verbal commitment from the Knights. Madourie had 45 tackles during his recently completed sophomore season, including 17.5 sacks. If the Owls go three wides on offense, look for true freshman Sean Ryan from NYC to join Isaiah Wright and Ventell Bryant. Me, I hope they scrap the three wides, use a tight end (Kenny Yeboah) and a fullback (Rob “Nitro” Ritrovato).

We should find out the answers to those questions by April 14.

Hopefully, by then, spring will have already arrived.

Wednesday: The Greatest Cherry and White Ever


Eye on Atlanta: Root for Georgia Tech


Hopefully, Temple’s stadium will be closer to this than the crude drawing released recently

Hard to believe, Harry (Donahue), that one of the websites that list such things has placed Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson on the hot seat.

A few years ago, Johnson was one of the hottest coaches in the country at The Naval Academy, now he’s sitting on a hot seat. That’s life in the Power 5.

If you are a Temple football fan, you’ve got to root for him and his Georgia Tech team this season because when Owls’ head coach Geoff Collins called Temple “a developmental program” a month ago tomorrow, he probably meant it with his coaching staff, too. Three of four of Collins recent hires are from the state of Georgia and his current defensive coordinator, Andrew Thacker, was a position coach at Kennesaw State (also known as the Owls). Kennesaw is in Cobb County, which is in the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area.

Collins himself as a history at Georgia Tech, being the recruiting coordinator there for the Yellowjackets. If you don’t think this staff is being developed for a place like Georgia Tech, you probably don’t believe that General Billy Sherman burned the town to the ground 168 or so years ago. If Collins does well here this fall, he certainly would move to the top of the Georgia Tech wish list.

So that’s probably what Collins means by a developmental program. Ask him if he considers Georgia Tech a developmental program.

Still, rooting for a solid year from our friend Paul Johnson is almost as good as rooting for the Owls themselves.

That’s the lay of the land, though, in the “developmental” AAC.

In January, Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo interviewed for the Arizona opening. While he  decided to remain in Annapolis, had he left the Midshipmen it would have left Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery as the longest-tenured head coach in the American Athletic Conference, after only three seasons with the Golden Hurricane.

Coaching turnover has become a fact of life in the American with six head coaches leaving the AAC for jobs at “power five” schools. Next year, Memphis’ Mike Norvell and USF’s Charlie Strong are sure to attract suitors.

A good year for Paul Johnson probably won’t mean Collins will be here for life, but it would certainly close at least one very attractive door and limit the damage to Temple’s program for at least another year.

How’s that Georgia Tech fight song go again?

Friday: Thoughts on The Mitten Hall Fiasco

Monday: Spring (Practice) is in the Air

Wednesday: Our New Scheduling Buddies


What a Revolting Development ….


With only a few seconds in an eminently winnable game NBA at Miami, something stood out like a 6-foot-11 sore thumb.

The Philadelphia 76ers were winning and this decade’s version of “Hack-A-Shack” was in the game. Of course, instead of two 90 percent free throw shooters Mario Bellinelli and J.J. Redick being in there to catch the ball and get fouled and win the game, Ben Simmons was spotted and fouled immediately and the Sixers lost at the buzzer mostly because he missed two free throws.

What does this have to do with Temple football?


Because after the game, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said it was “more important for Simmons’ development” to be in there than it was to win the game.

The word “development” caught my ear because I heard, by my count, Temple football head coach Geoff Collins a derivative of it not one, not two but four times at the recent recruiting celebration. Collins said “we’re a developmental program”  while reviewing some recruiting film and saying a lot of these players are in the developmental stage and are coming here to be developed. It wasn’t the first time he used it. This is what he said in an interview on SI.com last May:  “I think this place is a developmental program, so I take pride in that.”

I guess Florida wasn’t a developmental program.

Hmmm. I’m sure Collins means well, but I don’t like the term.

Developmental program is a term I’ve never associated with Temple football before Collins came to town. AAC championship program, yes. Top 25 program, yes. Developmental program, no. While players certainly have been developed and nurtured (the most recent example is Haason Reddick), the primary purpose of Temple football has been to win as many games as possible. If someone got developed along the way, fine, but development was always secondary to playing in championship games.

To me, like the Sixers’ game above, winning is not the most important thing, it’s the only thing. I could not give a rat’s ass about Simmons being in there to learn a lesson, nor could I give a similar derriere for Logan Marchi’s “development” as a quarterback meant keeping him in there for seven games, looking awful against a bad Villanova team and stinking up Lincoln Financial Field in winnable games against Houston and UConn. A seven-game career as a starter was way too long for Marchi, who failed an eye test two games into his starting career and should have earned a permanent spot on the bench.

Big-time college football is a business and, in business, it’s either up or out. Marchi wasn’t treading upward after a brutal Game Two performance against Villanova and should have been out.

One of William Bendix’s catch phrases in the old TV show “Life of Riley” was “What a Revolting Development” and that applies to the word “developmental” and Temple football. A year ago, Collins was touting Temple as a “Top 25 program” and now it’s “developmental program.”

I prefer Top 25, thank you.

Let’s hope Temple never becomes the Sixers and sacrifices a precious game for the development of any single player. The football Owls don’t get to play 82 games a year. They can’t afford to trade wins for development.

Monday: 5 Questions for The Stadium Meeting

Wednesday: Eye On Atlanta

Friday: Reflections on The Town Meeting

3/12: Spring Practice Begins


Coaching Shuffle: It’s Who You Know


When it comes to getting an assistant coaching job at Temple, as anywhere, it really comes down to who you know.

Geoff Collins.

If you know Geoff Collins, you are in, and that was pretty much what happened with the hiring Nathan Burton as safeties coach after being the “quality control” coach at North Carolina State last season.


Coastal Carolina soft

Burton met Collins when he was walk-on in the last century at Georgia Tech and Collins was a graduate assistant there.

Prior to his time with NC State, Burton served as the defensive coordinator at West Alabama for three seasons. West Alabama was the place where former Temple head coach Bobby Wallace finished his career after making his chops at North Alabama.
Burton was hired as safeties coach but will take over the entire defensive backfield due to the exit of Cory Robinson for Rutgers. Robinson had been the defensive backfield coach at Temple last year.

To me, that was addition by subtraction.

One of the most disappointing areas of the team was the play of the defensive backs. Three starters returned from the AAC championship team and a fourth, Mike Jones, eschewed a chance for being a late-round NFL draft pick last year (Mike Mayock had him projected as the steal of the sixth round of the 2017 draft) to play for Temple.

Time and time again, the Owls were burned by touchdown passes late in the games (particularly Army and Navy) and they appeared to be out of position and the communication was not there like it was two years ago. Fran Brown and Phil Snow did a much better job with essentially the same players.

Defensive coordinator Taver Johnson, who presumably had a role in that miscommunication, was “demoted” to co-coordinator, probably saw the handwriting on that wall and took a lesser job at Ohio State.

Larry Knight will take over the linebackers, a role current defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker had last year. Knight had been the “director of player personnel.”

To me, the Knight move was interesting considering that he performed that same role at Georgia State in both 2015 and 2016.  Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross, probably overqualified to be DC and DB coach at Temple, expressed interests in the open jobs through back channels. No doubt in my mind they would have been better for the kids than the guys hired, but Collins is comfortable with who he hired and it is Collins who will sink or swim with them.

Would I like to see more ex-Temple guys like Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross included in this staff? Sure, but they did not know Collins before now and apparently Collins apparently did not have the same comfort level with them.

At least those of us who care about those things still have native son Adam DiMichele and adopted son Ed Foley. Hopefully, that’s enough to swing the pendulum of the offense back in the direction of Temple TUFF and away from the Coastal Carolina SOFT we witnessed too much a year ago.

The defense is pretty much all Collins anyway. Maybe it takes a year to install the Mayhem we have been promised. Let’s hope so because I didn’t see any evidence of that last year, the lone exception being the bowl game.

Wednesday: Comparing Staffs

AAC Needs To Re-Think Schedule


If the AAC really wants to be considered a Power conference, it can drop the slogans and the sideline markers that read “Power 6” and start scheduling like one.

Mike Aresco is good at public relations but PR won’t get the league to where it needs to be as fast as a thinking-outside-the-box scheduling concept.


Take Navy out of the West, put Cincy and ECU there, grab Army for the East and balance the schedules

He should ship two East teams (Cincy and ECU) out West, bring Navy back home to the East and add Army to the East as a sweetener to entice the Middies to make the move.

The league games would only feature East versus East and West versus West, making the championship matchup a fairer one in that every league game is against the same opposition.

That accomplished, the league should encourage its members to schedule Power 5 teams.

To continue to qualify for membership, each league member will have to schedule at least three games against so-called Power 5 conference teams.

What’s that, you say?

“They don’t want to play us.”

Sure, they do.

They don’t want to play us on the road but, if the AAC ever wants to be considered seriously, it will have to schedule less home-and-homes and be flexible to playing road games at Power 5 opponents.

Temple has done the AAC a solid by scheduling Boston College and Maryland this  year. Last year, UCF did the same thing by scheduling Georgia Tech and Maryland. UConn went one better and scheduled three Power 5 teams (Missouri, Virginia and Boston College). UConn got the scheduling part, not the football part.

There are reasons the five major conferences are called Power 5. They have the Power and the Group of Five schools do not.

To get the Power, you’ve got to fight the Power.

Short-term, this AAC schedule is just fine but the league has to address these issues within the next couple of years if it ever wants to be taken seriously.

Monday: Temple Schedules Going Forward


Taver, We Hardly Knew Ye ….


The Aramark indoor football field is twice as big as the old Student Pavilion and the ceiling is high enough for kicking practice.

Notes, quotes and anecdotes from about as interesting an offseason week for Temple football as we’ve seen in some time ….

Doing his best post-Pro Bowl Nick Foles’ impersonation, Taver Johnson walked sideways across the stage at the Aramark Center exactly a week ago and said this:

“How y’all doin’?”


When a Temple Hall of Famer calls, Geoff Collins should have at least listened

Little did those of us in attendance know, at least at that time, that Johnson might as well kept walking and gone right out the side door for good because that’s where he was headed in a real sense. By then, it had to be obvious to head coach Geoff Collins that Johnson was leaving and Collins probably said, “hey, I need you through signing night.”

Going from defensive coordinator at Temple to a defensive backs’ coach at Ohio State is mostly seen as at least a lateral move, certainly not a step up in the coaching fraternity but if it floats Johnson’s boat, go for it. Heck, Taver had the same job at Purdue before being enticed to leave there for the DC job at Temple one year ago.

Temple was ranked No. 56 in total yardage defense and No. 58 in scoring defense a year ago and that screams two words to me: Mediocre and Replaceable. Giving up 28 (really, 21) points to UConn and 13 points to a Villanova team that Rhode Island … Rhode Island … held to six is not a ringing endorsement of last year’s defense.

With the dissolution of the Bruce Arians’ staff in Arizona, there are a number of “overqualified” guys with Temple connections who Hall of Famer Paul Palmer told me were definitely interested in the job: Former FCS Defensive Coordinator of the Year Nick Rapone and Kansas City Chiefs’ Hall of Famer Kevin Ross.

If one or both are hired, they immediately become the two best defensive coaches on the staff. Both guys are Temple (and Tempe) TUFF, love Temple, and would be a positive influence on the kids and their fellow staffers and the fans. This is about the biggest no-brainer in Temple history. Neither would leave Temple for lesser positions, even at Alabama. Of course, Temple being Temple it hired another less-qualified guy from the one of the same two directional Alabama schools Bobby Wallace last coached, West Alabama. It would have nice for Collins to look around and grab a guy or two from the pre-Al Golden Era at Temple. Sometimes, you think he believes Temple did not have football before 2005. This was one of those times.

“Mr. Mike”

Now that Nick Sharga has left, we all have to find our next favorite player on the Temple team.

(Hell, I’m not the only fan who had No. 4 No. 1.)

Mine has been Isaiah Wright since the end of our season.


Like the guy said on the TV broadcast at the Army game, “Isaiah Wright is a touchdown waiting to happen.”

As I sat down next to long-time buddy and Temple linebacking great Steve Conjar, a guy across the table noticed me and said, “Mr. Mike!”

That guy was Isaiah Wright and it was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting him in person. He extended his right hand.

“I’m Isaiah Wright.”

“Isaiah Wright, my favorite Temple player. No joke.”

Then Isaiah introduced me to the guy sitting on his right, Linwood Crump (Junior), and I told the defensive back that he was going to be a starter but to not take anything for granted.

He said he would not.

Both can call me Mr. Mike any day of the week and, just maybe, they will give him No. 4 before the start of the season. Whatever number they give him, I just hope they don’t make him disappear like they did with Nick Sharga.

Aramark Center

Moody Nolan is listed as the architect for the new football stadium.


He also did the job at the new Temple football indoor facility called the Aramark Center (the football team shares this spectacular indoor arena with locker rooms and training facilities with the rest of the students). This is a much-larger version of the old Student Pavilion, large enough to get some punting and field goal work in—something that could not be done at what Collins affectingly called the “Mayhem Mansion.”

That said, it takes up such a large portion of the 15th and Montgomery area that it would now be pretty hard to see how a 35,000-seat stadium could fit in a North-South configuration. It would have to be East-West and cross and close 15th Street permanently with the Student Pavilion and tennis courts knocked down. Had the Pavilion been knocked down and replaced by what is now Aramark first, there would have been no need to close down 15th Street.

Now it is really hard to conceive of a stadium fitting into the old Geasey Field square footage alone but that could be the least of Moody Nolan’s problems.

Friday: Thoughts on The AAC Schedule

Owls Need Experience at DC


When Matt Rhule was putting the final piece to the puzzle that was his Temple coaching staff, he said to me over the phone two days after he was hired that “I have a older guy with a lot of experience in mind and with a young coaching staff, I think that’s the kind of guy we need.”

I later learned that was Phil Snow.

After a rocky start at Temple, Snow put his defense in place and, by the second AAC championship game he coached in, there were few better in the country. I wasn’t a big fan of Phil at first, but he won me over four years later when it took him that long to put in his defense.


All but one of the above played for Rapone at Temple

Geoff Collins might be wise to consider the same approach now that Taver Johnson is headed to Ohio State to essentially fill the 10th coaching spot Adam DiMichele filled at Temple.

With all due respect to Andrew Thacker, he simply doesn’t have the experience at an important position that a school as large as Temple should demand.

Nick Rapone, who was the defensive backs coach with the Arizona Cardinals (Temple West, located in Tempe) for Bruce Arians, does and he has the ability to put any type of defense in at a faster rate than even the Sainted Phil Snow did for the Sainted Matt Rhule. You want real Mayhem? Hire Nick Rapone.

Rapone’s daughter graduated from Temple and Rapone himself has some deep ties to Philadelphia and the Owls, having served two stints as an assistant here already.

As DC at  Delaware, Rapone was a part of two NCAA national runner-up teams, including in 2010 when he helped the Blue Hens to a 12-3 record and a share of the Colonial Athletic Association title. Rapone was named the 2010 FootballScoop NCAA Division I FCS Coordinator of the Year as his defense led the nation in scoring (12.1 ppg), ranked fifth in total defense (280.7 ypg) and was 12th in rushing defense (105.3 ypg). The secondary included four All-CAA performers, including All-American selections Anthony Walters and Anthony Bratton at safety. The Hens also ranked ninth in the nation in passing efficiency (102.7), and the team’s 21 INTs were the third-highest total in the nation at the FCS level.

He was the Owls’ defensive coordinator under Arians and the Owls more than held their own as a defense against two top 10 schedules under him.

Most importantly, he’s available and he does have extensive DC experience at the highest levels of football, not at developmental programs like Kennesaw State.

That’s what Thacker does not have nor did Johnson. Neither of those guys have any history of stopping offenses. Rapone has a long and storied one.

Like Rhule said back then about Snow, I think that’s just the kind of guy Temple needs.

Collins should at least pick up the phone and give him a call.

Or vice-versa.

Valentine’s Day: Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes

Friday: A Closer Look at the AAC Schedule

Monday: Developmental Program?

2/21: Philly Special

2/23: New Transfer Rule