It’s (Not Always) Sunny in Philadelphia

kraft

While the helmets look great, Geoff Collins and Pat Kraft never addressed the question of football coaching stability at Temple.

Today starts about the best week of weather in Philadelphia this season, splashing sunshine for most of the rest of the week.

chumpie

With this kind of weather, Collins should be out-recruiting Florida, Georgia Tech, SMU, UCF and UNC.

There will be sunshine all over the city, except for that little cloud that seems to always hover around Geoff Collins’ head.

It’s there simply because of what he did not say in his signing day presser. Sometimes, I think the guy could have used a good speechwriter because, while a lot of his bullet points hit home that day, it was what he did not say that will always cause some Temple fans like me to look at him with askance.

A simple speech like this AFTER THE WAKE FOREST DEBACLE would have done the trick, as short at the Gettysburg Address:

Tapping on the microphone, Collins opens up:

“Test. Test. Is this thing working? You will all have to excuse me because there  were a few words I did not say on the day I was hired that I feel I should say today. I have a few prepared notes for this occasion so I thought I’d jot a few down. Four scores and less than a month ago, this great program beat Navy and looked poised to enter the final AP Top 20 for the first time since 1979. That Navy team was playing better than just about any team in the nation going into that game, so a convincing win for us should have assured a final Top 25 spot.

“That did not happen for a couple of reasons. One, Matt Rhule, who is a good friend of mine, took what he thought was an opportunity of a lifetime and was faced with the difficult decision of leaving the very kids who helped give him that opportunity. Having been at that Wake Forest game and witnessed the half-hazard lead-up to it, I can say that, while Ed Foley did a great job, he did not have the requisite staffing support leading up to the game to adequately prepare the team.

“While researching this job, I came across a couple of sentiments I want to express today.  The day Al Golden was hired here, he said he wanted to build a house of brick, not straw, and I echo that statement today. The day Steve Addazio was hired from the same school which produced me, he said he wanted to reach out to the Wayne Hardin guys and so do I. Those are the true Temple legends, not the guys who graduated after 2010.

“When Matt was hired, he said he wanted to sign a 15-year contract. To me, a contract is a two-way street. My signature means I will hold up my end of the bargain. All I can say about that is to tell you right now that this is my opportunity of a lifetime, Temple. Not Baylor. Not Florida. Not Mississippi. While I cannot tell you what the future holds for me, I can promise right here and now to you and them that no future Temple team will be without the full coaching staff, including me, while going for a bowl win and a Top 25 ranking. That means too much to this great school and I will never dishonor this school. I wanted to clear this up because I felt I left some things hanging on the day I was hired. Thank you, and I want to open this up for questions.”

Thunderous applause all around would have greeted similar sentiments, but none of the sort came. Instead, Collins followed up on signing day by recruiting a class that suggested the house would be more straw than brick, and propped up by the foundation his predecessors laid. That leads to the inescapable conclusion that this staff is outta here with the first overachieving season, maybe even this one. Some people say that we as Temple fans should accept our fate as a steppingstone, but I’m not ready to do that. The notion that this staff might use Temple, heck probably will, is not good.

Looking up into the sky, that’s not a sunny prospect for the long-term viability of Temple football. There is still time for Collins to change that perception, but those days are dwindling down to a precious few. Cherry and White Day would be a good day to clear this up and remove that cloud for good.

Wednesday: No Punter, Big Problem

Friday: 5 Questions Pat Kraft Needs to Answer

Fly On The Wall

Maybe someday Pat Kraft will shed some light on what went on in the Collins’ interview.

As he usually does, 920 The Jersey’s Zach Gelb, a  Temple-Made sports talk radio host with a great future, asks the best questions at Temple press conferences.

During the introduction of Geoff Collins, Gelb asked Collins if he could guarantee Temple football recruits if he would be here four years from now when they graduated.  It was one of the few questions that Collins did not handle with the dexterity of an Ozzie Smith.

gelb

Zach Gelb

Collins let that question go off the back of his glove into left field when he said all he was interested in was the here and now and that’s what he would tell recruits.

To me, that was an E6 on one of the few hardball questions Collins had to field that day.

Although I appreciated the honesty, if I were Collins I would have lied (if indeed it was a lie) my ass off and told him, of course, if this place is good enough for the John Chaneys and the Wayne Hardins of the world, it is good enough for me. I plan to be here for the long haul and make Temple football a national power.

That would have served two purposes, assuaging a couple of very important groups: The current recruiting class and the players in the program already. The first group is being told by the bad guys—the other coaches seeking Temple commits—that Collins is here only short-term and would bail after the first overachieving season and the second group has been already burned by a head coach who said it would take the perfect job for him to leave Temple.

Baylor’s a nice job, but with impending sanctions, it is far from a perfect one and there are many objective people on the outside—not necessarily Temple ones—who feel that Rhule had a better chance of succeeding at Temple than he does with the pair of handcuffs he has to put on to get the job done in Waco.

That leaves the next big question.

If Gelb, or really anyone, gets a chance, he should find someone who was in the room with Collins when he was being interviewed by the Temple Board of Trustees and ask if the same question ever came up as a condition of him getting the job.  By now, Temple should be extremely sensitive to coaches like Steve Addazio—and to a much lesser extent Rhule and Al Golden—using it and moving on.

Oh, to be a fly in the wall hearing the answer to that question. I hope that question was asked in the vetting process, but there is also a chance that it was not.

Perhaps athletic director Dr. Pat Kraft is best equipped to supply the answer and we know the perfect guy to ask him.

Monday: Temple’s Montana to Rice

Can Temple Screw This Up?

manziel

John DeFilippo’s  major claim to fame is making Johnny Manziel the man he is today.

Plunking down $2 for my Sunday paper, I fully expected to read an update on the Temple football coaching search only to see a Flyers’ story, an Eagles’ story and a James Franklin story on the sports cover.

No problem. Surely, there must be a big splash on the upcoming Temple football hiring on the inside.

The second page had a full page on skating—yes, skating—while the third page was all Villanova basketball. The fourth page was all Phillies, the fifth page another full page on Penn State football, the sixth page Army-Navy and the seventh page Sixers.

Three more Eagles’ pages followed, plus another Flyers’ page before the sports section closed out with high school coverage. I could have used one less Penn State football page and maybe one less Flyers’ page in order to squeeze some Temple football news in, but hey, they don’t want my business.

Talk about a wasted $2.


… we should all know by Alumni Tent
time at the bowl game who the next
Temple head coach will be. It should
be a big enough name who is able to
sell 2017 season tickets, not a guy
who should be working at the
Will Call window.

To get my Temple coaching fix, I had to go online and the first thing that greeted me was this headline: “Temple Has Contacted Eagles’ QB Coach About Head-Coaching Job.”

Surely, this had to be from The Onion. It could not have been real but, upon opening the link, it came from Philly.com and the quarterbacks’ coach is John DeFilippo. Temple AD Pat Kraft is a busy man these days and he certainly does not have time to be contacting Eagles’ QB coaches about what should be the top job in the AAC. Before being the Eagles’ QB coach, DeFilippo was the QB coach with the Cleveland Browns when Johnny Manziel was there. Other stories online talk about Houston hiring Major Applewhite and South Florida hiring Charlie Strong.

The last four Temple coaches were all hired between Dec. 6-23, which means we should all know by Alumni Tent time at the bowl game who the next Temple head coach will be. It should be a big enough name who is able to sell 2017 season tickets, not a guy who should be working at the Will Call window.

That got me thinking: Could Temple screw this up?

It certainly can. Not on purpose, but if it Kraft wastes valuable time on things like this it is certainly not a good sign. Temple should be contacting the Detroit Lions’ tight ends’ coach, not the Eagles’ QB coach. Temple should be zeroing in on guys with a long track record of winning as a head coach on the college level, not a guy who has had 10 jobs in 11 years. Let’s hope it’s a case of DeFilippo contacting Temple and Temple saying, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.”

If it isn’t, we’re all in trouble.

Wednesday: Learning From History

Departures And Arrivals

There have been two visceral reactions to my learning of the departure of the last two Temple head football coaches and both occurred while listening to the radio and driving in my car.

The first came when Steve Addazio left and Harry Donahue broke in with the news on the 5:45 p.m. sportscast at KYW with these words: “There has been a coaching change at Temple … “ That perked me up a little because there is never a coaching change at Temple. I thought it might be Tonya Cardoza or some other minor sports coach moving on but instead Harry followed that slight pause with “Steve Addazio is headed to Boston College.”

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Hiring an assistant can go one of two ways.

As I made the left turn on Susquehanna Road near the Rydal train station, reaction was pure joy, pounding on the steering wheel and yelling, “Yes, yes, yes!!!”  That also had something to do with Temple never firing head coaches and I felt that Addazio would have to have many 4-7 seasons, not just the one he was coming off of, to be let go at Temple.

I did not want to live through that misery again, and Addazio’s future at Temple had a Ron Dickerson, Jerry Berndt and Bobby Wallace type quality written all over it.

On Tuesday, though, turning into the parking lot at work, the guy on one of the sports talk radio stations said at 11:40 this morning: “This just in:  Philly.com is reporting that Matt Rhule is leaving for Baylor.” The reaction had nothing to do with joy or sorrow and was just a knowing sigh.

waco

I knew this was going to happen last year with the Missouri dalliance when Rhule said he will always listen. I knew it was going to happen when he told a reporter who goes by the name “New Jersey Mike” in June that he cannot make promises, ostensibly to stay at Temple, and I really came to grips with it on Saturday when he told a press conference this telegraphed sentence: “It was a pleasure to have coached these kids.”

Notice the “have coached” part of that statement, which meant, at least to me, that he was not coaching the bowl game.  That’s OK, too, because the sanctions under which he will have to work with are crippling enough. He needs to recruit for Baylor and someone else needs to keep the current Temple recruiting class together (maybe Francis Brown).

I wrote Matt an old-fashioned handwritten letter upon returning home from work and placed it in the neighborhood mailbox after working out at the gym. I hope he gets it:

Dear Matt,

Thank you for giving me last Saturday, the very best of many great days I have spent as a Temple football fan over the last 40 or so years. Thank you for the way you and your wonderful players represented this terrific university and I wish you and your family many similar joyous days like Saturday in the not-too-distant future.

Good Luck,

Mike Gibson

That deals with the departure part of it, and now we get to the arrival area. To me, the university needs to no longer roll the dice with the hiring of an assistant coach. Being an assistant is not the same as being a head coach. It is a totally different job. You can be a great assistant and a terrible head coach. The world is littered with such examples. UConn found that out the hard way by hiring the “hottest” assistant coach available in Bob Diaco and that hiring turned out to be a train wreck.

NO MORE ASSISTANT COACHES. I don’t care if they are hot assistants, cold assistants, lukewarm assistants. Temple University should hire a proven winning head coach who has done it for multiple years at the FBS level, preferably at Temple University.

Al Golden, who has won here as a HEAD COACH, knows how to win and recruit here, is available and the current tight ends coach with the Detroit Lions. Ask yourself if you would rather coach the tight ends at the Lions or be head coach at Temple. He was 32-25 as a head coach under brutal sanctions at Miami and got fired for not achieving unrealistic expectations. He, above all other people, knows the grass is not always greener on the other side of the 10th and Diamond fence. If Golden can make written assurances with an astronomical buyout that guarantees a longer second stay, he is, as Bill Bradshaw wrote on that yellow legal pad in 2005: “Our guy.”

Thursday: Finished Business

Temple Better Be Paying Attention

Cincinnati Enquirer blows cover off Bearcats' Big 12 bid.

Cincinnati Enquirer blows cover off Bearcats’ Big 12 bid.

Since it was too cold to go outside on Saturday, time is never wasted watching ESPN 30 for 30 episodes of the award-winning series. The Saturday one featuring the Big East particularly pertained to Temple.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino hit the nail on the head when he said: “In all of those Big East meetings, everybody was swearing unity and allegiance to the Big East and the minute they were over, all of the athletic directors were on the phone trying to make deals with another conference.”

It is with that backdrop that Temple should be concerned with the Cincinnati Enquirer’s report today that the President of that university was in active talks with the Big 12 to get his team out of the American Athletic Conference (AAC).

Temple should be paying attention because, if it was not obvious before, it is every man (school) for himself and without Cincy and UConn, Temple could one day wake up and find itself in nothing more prestigious than Conference USA.

The Oklahoma President says that it is all about TV and, if so, Temple—not Cincy—holds the ace in this deck of cards and that’s something Neil D. Theobald and Pat Kraft should be hammering home. Temple should be looking out for Temple, period.

From the Enquirer’s report, it is clear that Cincy is taking that approach.

Groundhog Day And Temple Stadium

ambit

Theobald might want to call Ambit Architecture and have something that looks like these two photos from the outside with a view of the city from one end  from the inside (small photo below)

theo

About 24 hours ago, Temple president Neil D. Theobald and athletic director Pat Kraft showed up at the Student Activities Center to talk about a stadium. They did not wear top hats or pull a rodent out of the cafeteria to tell if there would be six more years of stadium talk, but it certainly seemed that way.

owlet

Something like this with smaller decks built deep into the ground (entrance at the top of the first deck) and the seats on top of the field and some view of the city would be perfect.

In March of 2012, a member of Temple Board of Trustees told a long-time athletics supporter that a stadium was a “done deal.” That was at a basketball win over North Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament, but that was three years ago and nothing was done in this deal.

Mark that down as three wasted years.

accounts

Now, three years later, Theobald and Kraft marked the first time any Temple officials appeared before one or two reporters to talk about it and the guess here is that by next Groundhog Day, they will still be talking and not a single shovel will break the ground. Who knows how many years after that will we eventually see a stadium at Broad and Norris. My guess is well into the next decade, if at all.

 

Temple has several significant hurdles to jump over, the first being “the community”, the second the city and the third the unions.

What we will hear is a lot of what we heard yesterday—a lot of loud shouting and not much in the way of intelligent discourse.  By all accounts, there were about 200 students there and 180 wanted to hear what Theo and Kraft had to say. Because 20 or so did not, every answer was shouted down. That seems to be the way discussions go nowadays. The people who do not want something do not want to hear answers to questions, only to hear themselves.

misonceptions

That’s unfortunate because it doesn’t help their cause, however just it might be, going forward.

Temple will hire an architectural firm at Monday’s special BOT meeting (3:30 p.m., Sullivan Hall, Feinstein Lounge) and here are just a couple of words of advice, borrowed from someone we know but will just call him “Matt.” If you are going to build a stadium, do it the right way. That means any architectural firm will have to draw a stadium that includes seatbacks (no bleachers), 3D video screens, seats right on top of the action (not sloped back), and a mostly closed bowl to maximize the noise and make it a real home field advantage for the Owls.

If the architectural firm does not deliver those things for $100 million, either increase the budget or sign a 20-year renewal at the Linc. There are no other options.

Tomorrow: The 5 Best Things About This Signing Class

Why July 14 is the Most Important Date in Temple Sports History

If recent Temple hires in key positions are any clue, the stadium going up at 15th and Norris should look something like this.

If recent Temple hires in key positions are any clue, the stadium going up at 15th and Norris should look something like this.

Usually the middle of July is a dead period in sports as baseball is in the middle of an all-star break, NFL training camp has not started and the NBA, NHL and college football are a couple months away.

For Temple University, though, July 14th might be the most important day in its sports history. That’s because the school’s Board of Trustees will hold a rare meeting amid rumors that there could be talk of an on-campus stadium on the agenda.

meetingminutes

Even if a stadium is not on the docket that could be more telling than if it is because the school’s BOT let a May meeting, a March meeting and a December meeting come and go with no discussion of a stadium. If it is not on this agenda, there likely will be no stadium because the next meeting after this one is in October and the school’s 15-year lease with the Philadelphia Eagles to rent Lincoln Financial Field expires at the end of the 2017 season.

Temple fans on sports message boards seem obsessed with the topic as seemingly innocuous discussion threads get turned into stadium ones at the drop of a hat. When it comes to the people who really matter, the BOT, the topic hasn’t even moved the needle. There were meetings on December 9th, March 11th and May 12th and not a word on the stadium at any of them. That could all change on Tuesday. Or not.

Since the last meeting on May 12, former Indiana University chief bean counter (CFO), Neil Theobald, the current Temple president, kicked a former Indiana U. aide, Kevin Clark, upstairs from AD to No. 2 in command (COO). Then he hired a former Indiana football player, Dr. Pat Kraft, as AD. Yet another former Indiana guy was brought in to raise money for athletics.

If that means a stadium that looks like Indiana’s is about to go up at Broad and Norris, we should know soon.

Or not.

The next meeting after this one does not come until Oct. 13th. By then, any reasonable person could see that there will not be enough time to get shovels into the ground and a stadium completed by the opening day of the 2018 season. Even if it is discussed on Tuesday and approved (highly doubtful), there will be a mad dash to get the stadium done. So if a stadium at Temple is just an unfounded rumor, fans should know by Wednesday. No discussion probably means no stadium, at least not for a decade down the road.

The question of where Temple will play in 2018 is an urgent one.  The logical answer is to extend the Lincoln Financial Field lease. That could be costly because the Eagles are asking for a 300 percent increase in Temple’s $1 million-per-year rent, but it is a price Temple must pay to remain a viable program and about 10 times less costly than building its own stadium.

The AAC, like the Big East before it, will demand that Temple have exclusive rights on Saturdays to a stadium and the only other stadium with a size that fits its needs would be 57,000-seat Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn has those rights so Franklin Field is not an option nor is the 18,000-seat PPL Park.

Temple’s only means toward keeping those rights is to stay where it is right now and build its own stadium and, if the Board is silent again like it has been in the past that means a stadium is a long, long ways away if ever.

Then the next most-important date becomes Sept. 5 and that will not have anything to do with a new stadium.