New Uniforms?

eastjumbo

These uniforms are probably the best ones featuring the Temple ‘][‘ on the helmet

In the grand scheme of things, uniforms rate somewhat behind coaching, talent, practice facilities, stadiums and fan bases in terms of importance.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t important at all because they are.

During one of the great Temple wins recently—an overtime win at UConn in 2012 that made the Owls 2-0 in a one-time BCS league—it was with great pride that I noted that the Owls did it wearing what I thought was their best uniform combination:

Cherry pants, white stripes, white jerseys, cherry helmets.slight

They played well and looked good.

It is against that backdrop that I cringed when I heard Temple was getting new uniforms by the end of this month.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

At Temple, it ain’t broke but fixing it could break it.

All over the NCAA, I see teams with awful-looking so-called “modern” uniforms—Maryland comes in the 2011 Temple game comes to mind here—getting their asses kicked by more traditional uniforms.

Temple’s uniforms have remained pretty much the same through the years.

When Al Golden got here, he eliminated the Temple ][ on the helmets for a very good reason because he felt the “football brand” at Temple when he played at Penn State represented toughness and that brand was having TEMPLE spelled out across the helmets.

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 31 Temple at Navy

That brand was created by Wayne Hardin in 1970.

“We want people to know who were are,” Hardin said. “We’re Temple. We’re spelling it on the helmets so they won’t forget who we are. There are plenty of schools that have T’s on the helmet but not many that spell the name.”

That brand continued until Jerry Berndt brought the T back because Penn, the Philadelphia team he formerly coached, had a P on it.

To me,  that wasn’t a very good reason.

Golden brought TEMPLE back on the helmet and that lasted until a bald-headed guy who shall remain nameless brought the T back. I’m OK with the ‘][‘ because it is the school brand but not OK with an entirely new look because it is supposed to be attractive to recruits.

Something tells me the new uniforms are going to be closer to a Maryland-type monstrosity—the Under Armour CEO is a Maryland grad—than a more traditional Temple look.

Whatever it is, if the word TEMPLE comes back on the helmet, that would be an acceptable step forward and a fitting tribute to the Hardin Era.

Monday: Spring Phenoms Old and New

Wednesday: The Scrimmage

Friday: 5 Things To Look For At Cherry and White

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2018 P5 Opponents: Maryland and Boston College

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As Central Florida found out this season, nothing makes a statement for a Group of Five program than a win or two over Power 5 teams.

The first statement—a 38-10 win on the road over a Maryland team which beat Texas (which beat USC)—was impressive enough, but beating an Auburn team that beat the both Alabama and Georgia took it to another level.

Not enough to finish in the top four, but a statement on the way to an unbeaten season nonetheless.

Temple, in its own way, has a path to such a statement by wins against the aforementioned Maryland team and Steve Addazio’s Boston College squad.

Hard, but doable.

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That’s what sets the 2018 season apart from the 2017.

The Owls play both Maryland and Boston College and, with those wins and a win over a Power 5 team in a bowl game, would restore a brand closer to what Matt Rhule left after a pair of 10-win seasons than the hit that took a slight hit with a 7-6 one in Geoff Collins’ first season.

If the Owls will be, as Collins has said, a “ridiculous” team next year, there is no reason to believe they can’t pull those two wins off. I assume Collins means ridiculously good because he talks the kids’ lingo.  Call me skeptical about the Owls replacing two great wide receivers, two good edge rushers and an 3/4s of a defensive secondary. Losing the “best fullback in the country” probably not will be as devastating as I thought it was going to be four months ago because the Owls’ brain trust did not use him over the last two months.

Maryland made it a lot harder by hiring former Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater. Taver Johnson, the Owls’ current coordinator, doesn’t have a resume approaching Heater’s—the last Temple DC to post consecutive shutouts and a guy who Urban Meyer called a “Miracle Worker” leading the defense of his 2010 Florida Gator national championship team.

Boston College, despite a solid season last year, could be a relatively easier nut to crack simply because of the matchups. BC lost to a Syracuse team that lost to Middle Tennessee State, so anything is possible. Any Temple fan will tell you that Addazio’s affinity for the run game borders on obsession and Temple, if anything, should have a good run-stopping defense next  year and be vulnerable to the pass. If Daz follows the pattern he set at Temple—run, run, sack, punt—the Owls should be in good shape. Still, Boston College won five of its last six games to earn a Pinstripe Bowl bid.

So there are signs that this is probably not the Daz we know and hate.

Either way, both Maryland and BC add some spice to a schedule that has been peppered with too many Stony Brooks and Villanovas over the last couple of years.

Scheduling P5 teams is one thing but, if you are going to schedule them, you might as well follow Central Florida’s lead and go ahead and beat them.

Wednesday: Commitment Issues

Friday: Housecleaning Questions

Mulligans and Aliens

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Temple should have capitalized on having this to recruit a decent class this season.

A friend who is an amateur astronomer posted a photo of some far-off galaxy on Facebook and apologized for the quality of the photo due to atmospheric conditions.


A Virginia Tech model,
where you make a bowl
every year and reach
up and win a title
here and there, should
be a realistic
expectation for Temple
at the G5 level

My response was that someone from that galaxy probably posted a photo of the Milky Way with the same apology on, say, Cleon Facebook.

In other words, we’re not alone.

It’s a lesson Temple football fans would be wise to understand today, a couple of weeks after Signing Day. The prevalent feeling on the major Owl message board (Shawn Pastor’s OwlsDaily) is that we’re giving new head coach Geoff Collins a Mulligan on this class, but the next class better be good.

The lesson should have been don’t look back because the other beings in this football universe might be gaining on you.

That’s where the other guy comes in because new coach Charlie Strong did not need a Mulligan to haul in a significantly better class for USF and former Temple head coaches Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule did not need a Mulligan in their first transition classes. Despite working about a month, the classes that Golden, Addazio and Rhule brought in their first time were ranked significantly higher than Collins’ first class.

In between preparing for a medical procedure I should have done 10 years ago but had been putting off, I found a little bit of time to look at those classes.

The Charlie Strong class was easy to find. The other classes were much harder to quantify against this one. (You really only know four years from now but you can compare them against how they were ranked at the time.)  According to Scout.com, Strong’s USF transition class this season was ranked No. 95th with seven three stars. In roughly the same time frame to recruit, Collins had Temple was 127th with only three three-stars. In the same conference, both teams with a new head coach, a significant gap in results.

Strong did not have a championship trophy to carry around on a helicopter, either. It’s fair to compare the two classes. Because we have evidence to work with given roughly the same circumstances, Collins should have done better. You can talk all you want about how it is the “Temple Way” to recruit two stars and coach them up to four stars but if you get three stars, your mathematical chances of coaching them up to four- and five-stars improve. Temple should be OK next year, but the impact of this class won’t be felt until three or four years down the road and that is how a foundation is laid for sustainable success, not just one “up” season followed by a “down” season. At Temple, the goal should not be “up and down” seasons like so many other schools seem to have. A Virginia Tech model, where you make a bowl every year and reach up and win a title here and there, should be a realistic expectation for Temple at the G5 level.

An AAC trophy should have meant a better haul than the 2017 class Collins was able to bring to 10th and Diamond and long-term is where the impact will be felt. Without helicopters or AAC trophies, Temple coaches have done better with roughly a month to recruit.

transition

 

While it might have been tough to expect Collins to do a whole lot with this class, the evidence is there in black and white that he should have done better. In college football, getting to the top is tough but staying there is tougher so capitalizing on a championship season when you can with recruiting should have been prioritized.

There are a lot of football teams in this universe and, if you slip up one year, they could be passing you in two or three. There are no Mulligans when you are not alone.

Saturday: Fun With Graphics

The Curse of Russell Conwell

curse

Forget about the famous baseball curses cast on the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, which were only recently overcome.

There is one curse that is still alive in sports and that is the Curse of Russell Conwell.

Somewhere up there, Conwell has cast a curse on the last three coaches to leave his beloved Temple University and its football program.

russell

Al Golden left for Miami and was greeted with sanctions that made it impossible to win there. Steve Addazio has taken his three-yards-and-a-cloud of dust offense to Boston College and went winless in the ACC two years ago. The jury is still out on Addazio, but it is leaning toward a unanimous conviction. Matt Rhule left Temple no more than two months ago and could hit with sanctions that would make the ones Golden received looked like a slap on the wrist.

Whatever happens going forward, you could win a lot of money in Vegas betting against any of the three having a long winning career as a college football head coach.

These are the facts that we know to this date and it is not a pretty picture. New Temple head coach Geoff Collins would be wise to stare at this portrait and get some deep meaning out of it.

All three of those coaches could have had a job at Temple for life—or at least a very long rope with to work with—but all three thought the grass was greener on the other side of the Chodoff Field fence.  In fact, there has been no grass on the other side of that fence, only dust. The only value in the move was monetary and money will not last forever.

Conwell, in some type of afterlife, must be working some serious Voodoo pins with Golden, Daz and Rhule bobble heads.

About the time Conwell founded Temple University, he was the best-known lecturer in the United States, playing to sellout crowds who wanted to hear his story of the man who traveled the world in search of riches only to find “Acres of Diamonds” in his own backyard.

Most of the Temple coaches who found substance in Conwell’s story went on to finish with better careers at Temple than they would have leaving on their own for far-off places. Harry Litwack went to a pair of Final Fours. Skip Wilson won over 1,000 baseball games without the benefit of warm-weather recruits. Under Wilson, the Owls went to a pair of College World Series. John Chaney made five Elite Eights. Wayne Hardin went 80-52-2 and made the College Football Hall of Fame. All made Temple their final stop on the coaching highway.

Those, by any standards, are success stories. Leave Temple or attempt to use this great institution as a stepping stone and the story will not have a happy ending. Compare and contrast those success stories to the ones facing the last three Temple football coaches who left on their own.

Maybe when Collins comes to that inevitable fork in the road, he will take a good look at the map and head down the road less (recently) traveled.  Russell Conwell may be watching from above.

Monday: Looking Ahead to Spring Ball

Wednesday: Press Conference Translations

The Wrong 6-6 ACC Team

This is the ceremony we stayed for despite being told to leave for the bus right after the game. Me and a fellow great Temple fan made alternate plans of Ubering it home if the bus left without us.

Obviously, the people who make the matchups on NCAA basketball Selection Sunday with an eye for storylines do not work on the NCAA football bowl side.

For years, the NCAA hoops people have been accused of pairing foes based on what would make a better story over legitimate seeding bracketing.

“I absolutely think that’s the case,” Temple head basketball coach Fran Dunphy said after the Owls were slotted down a couple of notches from what they should have been (2010 season) in order to play No. 12-seeded Cornell, coached by his old assistant, Steve Donahue.

That wasn’t the only instance on the basketball side, all you have to do is look at this year when Shaka Smart’s Texas team was paired against his old team, VCU, and Sean Miller’s Arizona team was placed in the same bracket as Dayton, coached by his younger brother.

Boy, they could have used that formula on the football side this year because they got the wrong 6-6 ACC team to face Temple in the Military Bowl in Wake Forest. They swung and missed on this one.

bowlgamephoto

It was a no-brainer to invite Boston College and old Temple coach Steve Addazio to the Military Bowl party. First of all, there is no love lost among the current Temple players for Addazio. Haason Reddick was not even allowed to take reps in practice under the Addazio regime. He will now be a first-round NFL draft pick or at worst a second-round selection.

The sight of that bald head on the other side of the Temple sideline probably would be enough to motivate even more Temple fans to go because there is also no love lost for a guy who was full of baloney the two years he was here. Addazio said Temple was his “dream job” and talked about how he wanted to stay in Philadelphia forever because he was an Italian guy who loved the South Philly macaroni. He never saw his third year and did the Owls a favor by leaving and taking his three-yards-and-a-cloud of dust offense with him. As soon as he got to the podium in Boston, he talked about BC being his dream job. A Delaware County Daily Times’ writer then came up with this clever line: “A football coach calling Boston College his dream job is a little like a chef calling  Boston Market his dream job.”

Instead of being sent to Annapolis on Dec. 27, Boston College was banished to Detroit to face Maryland the day earlier.

That’s too bad because the more compelling storyline is with a BC-Temple game and not a Temple-Wake Forest one. The ratings would have been off the charts because two large TV markets (Philadelphia and Boston) would be involved and not just Philadelphia and the small Raleigh-Durham market. Plus, there is a history between BC and Temple that dates even before the Big East. There is no history between Wake and Temple, other than one game played in 1930 that probably no one remembers. There also is a history between Wake and former ACC partner Maryland, so that’s a trade that benefits all four ball clubs.

It’s probably too late to send Wake Forest to Detroit to face Maryland, but it is a nice thought. While we’re at it, here is another one: Football should adopt the basketball version of the “eye test” because, if that were used, Temple’s wins over Navy and USF plus the championship of the sixth-best conference would have vaulted the Owls into the Cotton Bowl over a Western Michigan team that has no such credentials.

As far as Selection Sundays go, in at least a couple of important areas, football has a lot to learn from basketball.

Thursday: Elephant Hunting

Saturday: It Could Have Been Worse

Monday: The Clawson Cutoff

 

Going North To Go South

burn

If doing this a lot does not cause burnout, nothing does.

Sometime in the first year of Al Golden’s tenure at Temple University, I stopped at the SAC to purchase some Temple gear and, much to my surprise, I saw the coach jog by me in the general direction of leaving the green zone, near 12th and Montgomery.

It occurred to me then that if there was ever a time for a coach to “burn out” that was it. Golden had to deal with a 20-game losing streak, a nationally low APR, and had to weed out so many of Bobby Wallace’s mistakes that it was a wonder he would field a team.

dazio

This may have been the greatest day in Temple football history.

He didn’t, and somehow found as much strength to rebuild Temple that he showed courage in jogging toward 12th Street and who knows how far East. The 20-game losing streak would end the next week, and a bowl game came not all that much longer after that.

Now, we have learned from this story that Golden was “burned out” from the combination of coaching at Temple and dealing with unrealistic expectations at Miami. If Golden went 33-25 at Temple, like he did at Miami, there would be a statue of him in front of the E-0. Instead, for being a winning coach, he got fired. Now he is the tight ends’ coach with the Detroit Lions.

Golden went North to go South, which means that he will end up at a better place as a head coach and should be able to recharge his batteries. It’s ironic that both Golden and Steve Addazio saw fit to leave Temple and ran into tougher times elsewhere. Temple caught a huge break when Daz left on his own, because Temple does not fire coaches. Sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Acres of Diamonds means something here.

No one knows when or if Matt Rhule will get burned out at Temple, but he does have the advantage of not having to deal with those same APR troubles as Golden did. He seems to like Philadelphia, and has enough perspective to know that coaching his kid’s baseball team will somehow keep those batteries on constant recharge for Temple.

Knowing what happened to the two coaches who left before him might keep him grounded for awhile. At least it has got to be part of any thought process, as Golden used to say, going forward.

5 Things to Get Excited/Worry About Tomorrow

Watching Temple head coach Matt Rhule address the media one final time before tomorrow’s 3:30 p.m. showdown with Penn State, people in the media had to be struck by one thing he said about being worried the “moment would be too big” for “the kids.” He said he did not think so but just by bringing it up, the thought must have entered his mind. Nowhere in that statement did Rhule express a concern that the moment might be too big for his coaching staff.

The butterflies will be there one way or another tomorrow (3:30) at Lincoln Financial Field and we are both excited and worried about these five things.

sat

  1. Offensive Coaching

Excited About:  Recognition. Both head coach Matt Rhule and OC Marcus Satterfield seemed to say the right things about the fiasco that was the 2014 Temple offense. Rhule said that he would go back to Temple’s offensive brand, which had been running the ball with a high skill level tailback behind a lead-blocking fullback.

Worried About: Backtracking: Nothing that happened the first two years has indicated Satterfield is comfortable calling that kind of offense. It’s not what he ran while winning all of those FCS National Championships at Tennessee-Chattanooga. (Oh wait. He didn’t win any.) Now they are talking about dropping the fullback concept and going back to being “more multiple.” More multiple was the reason they were 126th and last in FBS third-down efficiency.

  1. Defense

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Excited About: Experience. All 11 starters from the nation’s fourth-best scoring defense return and all 11 guys are flat-out ballers who do not back away from anyone.

Worried About: Lack of Praise. We’re not talking about endorsements from the media here, but a guy in No. 50, Praise Martin-Oguike,  who provided the the Owls with a pair dynamite playmakers at DE with Nate D. Smith. Praise might be out and Nate is tough as they come, but will PSU attack the soft underbelly of the Owls’ defense with sweeps to the other side? James Franklin does not get paid $4.4 million a year to overlook those types of things. Also worried about them not rushing Christian Hackenberg, but I do not think they are stupid enough to take that same passive approach two years in a row.

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  1. Running Game

Excited About: Jager Gardner and Ryquell Armstead. Those are two guys who give the Owls what they have not had since Bernard Pierce: A guy with the speed to take it to the house by merely turning the corner. Home run hitters is what they are.

Worried About: Caution. Jahad Thomas, the starter, does not seem to be a home run hitter but a guy who earned the job by having the fewest summer fumbles. Yet we’ve seen both Thomas (Houston game) and Zaire Williams (SMU) caught from behind and a premier Temple running back (Mike Busch, Tommy Sloan, Bobby Harris, Anthony Anderson, Zack Dixon, Kevin Duckett, Paul Palmer, Stacey Mack, Tanardo Sharps, Elmarko Jackson, Bernard Pierce, Matty Brown, and Montel Harris) simply does not get caught from behind. That is not what we do here at Temple. When we break into the open field, we turn it into six. Williams is now a LB. If Thomas breaks free, he must take it to the house to keep his job.

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  1. Tight Ends

Excited About: Colin Thompson. When was the last time Temple had a four-star recruit from the SEC (Florida) transfer here? Answer: Never. The guy has a four-star skill set: speed, size, blocking ability, great hands.

Worried About: Witness Protection. Evidently, no one told Rhule he was on the roster last year by the few times he was targeted. Why not use him the same way both Al Golden and Steve Addazio used Evan Rodriguez? Short little 5-yard waggle rollout passes to keep the rush off P.J. Walker, ala Chester Stewart at Maryland. Then toss an occasional jump pass in the back of the end zone, ala Stewart to Steve Manieri at the fake Miami a few years back. Both films are in the can at  the E-O. Rhule might be wise to dust them off one last time tonight.

hands

Even something this innocuous is an automatic 15-yard taunting penalty now.

  1. Robby Anderson

Excited About: Everything. This is a big time player who makes big-time plays against big-time teams. If, say, UCF was not a moment too big for him two years ago, Penn State will not be now. He’s got a 44-inch vertical leap, sub-4.5 speed, great hands and great moves in the open field.

Worried About: Rule changes. We’re not talking about Matt Rhule changes, but Anderson might not be aware of all the hand gestures that he made two years  ago after big catches—even innocent ones—are now automatic 15-yard penalties. He must be schooled to catch the ball, get to the end zone and simply give the ball back to Mr. Official without any histrionics. You would think Matt Rhule would have talked to him about this already, but one team in the TU-PSU game got a critical 15-yard penalty for a throat slash last year.

It was not Penn State.