Class Warfare

offers

Without getting into names, this was a typical offer sheet for a Matt Rhule recruit a year ago.

Summing up Temple recruiting is pretty easy these days.

Matt Rhule had a bad year going out the door, Geoff Collins had a bad year (really, month) coming in and Collins seems to have rebounded with a nice crop if he’s able to water and harvest it by the new early signing day (Dec. 20).

Judging from a lot of the comments of the commits, that seems much more likely than not.

Collins was a recruiting coordinator at both Alabama and Georgia Tech and he’s learned a few tricks of the trade in addition to being an affable and amiable young man himself.

One of the Owls’ recent additions said what sold him on Temple was that when he got out of the car “the entire team was there waiting for me and shaking my hand and patting me on the back.”

People of any age like to be shown love, and that is a pretty innovative way of showing it.

Chalk that up to Collins’ experience.

That brings us to Matt Rhule.

Collins had an excuse for his first hastily put-together class.

Rhule, who hustled a pretty good class together even before he was head coach—for awhile, he was both Al Golden’s and Steve Addazio’s recruiting coordinator—showed signs of mailing in his final class.

While a lot of Rhule’s final class commits had offers from places like Old Dominion and Georgia State, a lot of Collins’ current ones have offers from Georgia Tech and Maryland.

It does make one pause.

Did Rhule have one eye on the door going into his final year at Temple?

All indications are that he was looking to get out.

When I saw this video posted by a guy called “Miami Mike” a year ago, I had one two-word reaction to his answer to the last couple questions here:

“He’s gone.”

He recruited with one eye on the door and he coached like it, too.

In addition to a final half-hearted recruiting haul, Rhule made no effort to get either of his backups, Frank Nutile and Logan Marchi, the kind of playing time they would need in order to be ready for this season. That point was made last week on this site by John Belli and it was a valid one. While P.J. Walker needed to play every down against teams like Penn State and UCF, he did not need to play nearly every down in games the Owls won 38-0, 48-20, 45-20, 31-0, 37-10 and 34-10. Those are the kind of games that big-time programs have the backups running the regular offense and throwing the ball in order to have guys ready. There was no excuse to sit Marchi or Nutile or have either of those guys handing off the rare snaps they had.

Add that to the recruiting, and Collins has a lot of catching up to do. He’s running pretty fast now. Let’s hope it’s fast enough.

Monday: House Money

Wednesday: Marketing Mayhem

Friday: The Mildcat

Real News

There are plenty of reasons to turn to the sports pages nowadays and one of them is the news.

When Team A beats Team B, no one says it’s Fake News. There is a score, a scoreboard and highlights proving it’s real news.

The same is true for college football recruiting.

There is nothing fake about what Geoff Collins is doing by elevating the Temple recruiting pedigree.

Last year at this time, the Temple commits—mostly—had solid offers from schools like Old Dominion, Stony Brook and Towson, while, this year, the solid offers are from schools like Maryland and Mississippi State.

On this day, we can only laud the hustle of Collins and the proof is right there in black and white in the names of the schools he’s beaten for Temple recruits.

Since we left the recruiting trail a few days ago, the Owls have added two more recruits, defensive end Dante Burke of Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach (Va.) and athlete David Martin-Robinson of Hempfield (Pa.).

Let’s take Martin-Robinson first.

He could play tight end, linebacker, wide receiver or safety which fits him well within the “position flexibility” concept of Collins’ recruiting.

Maryland and Rutgers offered Martin-Robinson.

As for Burke, he had summer visits lined up to a number of Power 5 schools but said as soon as he set foot on the campus of Temple University, he knew it was the perfect fit.

He had offers from Rutgers, Maryland and Georgia Tech.

With those two in the family, there are 10 scholarships remaining for Collins’ first full class. It’s just another reason to right past the front page into the sports section every morning. If the final 10 are anything like the first 15, this story could get more compelling every day.

Wednesday: Summer Practice Priorities

Friday: Class Warfare

Sweet Home Recruiting

alabama

There’s three seasons of Temple football, the fall, the spring and recruiting.

Temple did well in one, not so well in another and the jury is out on the third.

Of course, the most important season is the fall but without the other two there can be no tangible success. The jury is always out on the spring, because that’s always the good guys versus the good guys. For the elation of every great touchdown class in the spring, there’s the nagging thought that maybe the secondary is not as good as advertised. That happens every year.

Now we’re in recruiting season.

So maybe that’s why it was heartening to hear that Geoff Collins sent some of his staff down to Alabama for a recruiting seminar.

A lot of people among us felt that the Owls should have had a better recruiting season off an AAC championship, even with a new coaching staff. There was enough evidence to support that theory as Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule all had significantly higher-rated recruiting classes in their transition years than Collins did in his.

There was definitely the term “mailing it in” used on the recruiting effort of this staff and it’s hard to defend against it. It certainly seemed like that from my perspective, considering a new coaching staff without a lot of local ties would “settle” for not building a long-term foundation and instead look to live off Rhule’s recruits and move on to the next job.

It’s hard to scrub that image from the minds of a lot of Temple fans, including me. A top-rated AAC class in 2018 would erase that perception but we are not off to a good start.

aacrecruits

That’s why they have to get their act in gear for the season that takes place most of the summer.

Maybe going down to Alabama to listen to what Nick Saban has to say will help, but probably some good old-fashioned hustle and shoe-leather might do more good.

“I’d like to welcome our group from Temple,” we can only imagine hearing Saban say. “The best advice I have to improve your recruiting is to get in the SEC, play all of your games on Saturday and pack the house.”

Golden did it by coming to Temple with built-in relationships with high schools within the recruiting focus area and Rhule did it by enhancing those relationships. Maybe after listening to Saban, picking up the phone and calling Al or Matt might be worth the dime.

Friday: Fizzy’s Corner Returns

Monday: Sustainability

Recruiting Season Could Provide Clues

quincy

Tom Pajic leaves the relative quiet of Quincy for 10th and Diamond.

If anything, the newest hire of Geoff Collins provides some needed insurance.

Tom Pajic (which looks like it might be pronounced paycheck but really is pronounced PAH-CHICK) gives the Owls one more guy who has head coaching experience and, the way these AAC coaches fall by the wayside every season, that’s a nice policy.


Of course, the hope here
is that Collins wins the
AAC and gets to coach in
the bowl game, which he
also wins, and decides
Temple is the long-term
place for him

Never mind that the head coaching came at Division II-level Quincy (Ill.) for the last five years, this is another guy who has some experience of what to do with the clipboard in his hands. Given what Ed Foley did and did not do at the Military Bowl, maybe Pajic gets the chance to be head coach in the next bowl game. Not that Pajic is Vince Lombardi, but he and Wayne Hardin do have something in common: They have both beaten Drake as head coaches. The Drake team that Hardin beat in 1979, 43-22, was no slouch, though, having beaten Colorado State that same season. Pajic went 20-34 at Quincy, which is about the same amount of success Foley had as a head coach at Fordham (7-15). Interestingly enough, the guy who preceded Pajic at Quincy also went 20-34 before ending his tenure there.

Who would I have rather hired for this spot? Hmm. Al Golden might have been a good choice, but he is way above Temple’s pay grade. A better choice would have been current Baylor DB coach Francis Brown, but Temple  probably couldn’t afford him, either. Collins is the Godfather to Brown’s son, so maybe he’s a guy to keep an eye on in the future for a spot here.

Of course, the hope here is that Collins wins the AAC and gets to coach in the bowl game, which he also wins, and decides Temple is the long-term place for him. Hope and history, though, rarely jive in a league where Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo is the longest-tenured head coach.

There is at least a little irony is the new position, Director of Player Personnel, for Pajic because how he and Collins do as a recruiting team will telegraph Collins’ long-term intentions toward Temple. If the Owls finish again in the 100s—they were ranked No. 127 in recruiting by Scout.com in this February’s class—it is a sign that Collins has one eye on the exit door at the E-O.

If, however, Collins and Pajic can pull in a respectable class—say, for sake of argument in the 50s, not 120s—then the Collins will be following the plan promised by Al Golden to build a house of brick, not straw. Say what you will about Golden, but he gave the uni a great five years and left the program in great shape in terms of players. Matt Rhule did pretty much the same. Golden, Rhule and even Steve Addazio had classes ranked in the 50s so that’s not an unattainable goal at Temple. One-hundred-and-27 is unacceptable off an AAC title, even given a month to recruit.

The Owls had three players drafted in the first five rounds of the NFL draft and that should mean something to top-notch recruits. Between now and the start of summer practice, Pajic and Collins are on the clock and Temple fans should be paying attention.

Monday: Above The Line

Mulligans and Aliens

americansked

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

A Muted Celebration

Coach Collins helps Donald Hunt out with tape recorder placement.

Celebrations are supposed to big and loud things, like weddings, where you might hear the beat of the Electric Slide or the Funky Chicken.

Although work precluded my attendance, I cannot believe the “recruiting celebration” the Temple Owls held to commemorate the 2017 Signing Day Class was funky or electric. Muted would be the best word to describe it and, if there was a musical backdrop, and there was not, the song “Memories” by Barbra Streisand might have been more appropriate.


The good news about 2/1/17
is that the nuclear fallout
will not cause sickness for a
good three or four years
down the line. The bad news,
though, is to expect a lot
of vomiting and hair falling
out watching what could very
well be mediocre football
by then. Maybe Collins will
be around to see it;
maybe he won’t

While new head coach Geoff Collins was enthusiastic about the haul, the numbers suggested that this class did not meet up to recent Temple standards. Collins’ recruiting class was ranked 111th by 247.com, behind powerhouses Ohio and Tulane. In fact, it was the lowest ranking we could find among the Temple transition classes—in other words, the first classes of Al Golden, Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule–by a good bit.

While Collins’ real acumen as a recruiter will be determined next year, not  this one, this was not a good start because Golden, Addazio and Rhule came in under worse circumstances and came out with better classes. Golden, Addazio and Rhule did not have a championship trophy to waggle in front of recruits, only a promise that they would chase one. In addition to that, it is also fair to compare Collins to the other first-year AAC hires:

templerecruitingclass

So Collins deserves some criticism for this meager haul.

Rhule’s first partial recruiting class as head coach, leading into the 2013 season, was 247sports’ 80th-ranked class in the country. It came after a 4-7 season and coach Steve Addazio’s December departure for the same job at Boston College.

Last year, Temple made a splash on signing day by getting a commitment from Prep Charter defensive end Karamo Dioubate, who was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com. Rivals rated Temple’s 2016 recruiting class No. 60 in the Football Bowl Subdivision while Scout.com and 247sports.com rated it No. 76 and No. 58, respectively.

So there a body of evidence that suggests Collins tripped and fell flat on his face on this race to Signing Day.

braswell

This year is the first time since 2013 Temple doesn’t have at least one prospect rated as a four-star recruit.

Some Temple people might say ratings do not mean much, but the top 25 classes usually mirror the top 25 teams in the final AP rankings so they must mean a lot. Rivals rated Temple’s 2017 outside of the Top 100, while Scout rated Temple No. 123 out of 129 FBS teams and 247 sports rated the Owls class No. 111. Three-star prospects Gary Brightwell (Arizona), Raheem Blackshear (Rutgers), Ja’Sir Taylor (Wake Forest), Marvin Beander (Norfolk State) and Rob Saulin (Baylor) all decommitted from Temple over the last month.

Losing recruits to Arizona and Wake Forest is no disgrace; losing one to Norfolk State and being pilfered of two commits by a self-proclaimed Temple fan for life is. I would have hated to see what Matt Rhule had done if he didn’t like Temple.

Collins should not have been expected to bring with him Florida recruits, like Rhule stole Temple recruits for Baylor, but he should have had at least the kind of coaching and player contacts that enabled him to flip a P5 or two Temple’s way. The good news about 2/1/17 is that the nuclear fallout will not cause sickness for a good three or four years down the line. The bad news, though, is to expect a lot of vomiting and hair falling out watching what could very well be mediocre football by then. Maybe Collins will be around to see it; maybe he won’t. You just do not throw away recruiting years if you want to keep the foundation of a program solid.

You can forgive some objective Temple fans for not being in a very celebratory mood yesterday. The ones who see this through Cherry and White colored glasses were on the dance floor. God bless their optimism and I sincerely hope He rewards it.

Saturday: The Curse of Russell Conwell

Recruiting Celebration: Expect Fun

celebration

If Temple’s only “flip” off a championship season is a FCS one, the “recruiting celebration”  at the Student Pavilion will be somewhat muted.

Broken down to its very essence, football is just a game.

Games are supposed to be fun, and, at Temple in recent years, they have been. Winning begets fun and a fun approach begets more winning. Because former head coach Matt Rhule did not toss grenades over his shoulder on the way out and made sure the foundation was solid, Temple is set up to win for at least four more years.


There is no fun going
to a Big 10 school
and getting your head
beat in 78-0 and 58-0
every weekend. If you’ve
got to do the work
required of a big-time
college football player,
there should be a reward
for that work and,
at Temple, the reward
 is in the winning

So if a recruit is smart—and he has to be to get into Temple—he will gravitate to the place where he can win and have fun. We will know the full class only when all the signatures on the dotted line are faxed to the football offices around the nation tomorrow morning. We do not know those names right now, but we do know one thing.

The 20-25 guys who sign on the dotted line for head coach Geoff Collins will be among the 20 or so luckiest young men in America.

Temple, the reigning champion of the American Athletic Conference, is one of those places. The AAC has wins over Penn State, Florida State, Oklahoma, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Mississippi and North Carolina State in the last two years, so it’s already established a solid reputation.

There is no fun going to a Big 10 school and getting your head beat in 78-0 and 58-0 every weekend. If you’ve got to do the work required of a big-time college football player, there should be a reward for that work and, at Temple, the reward is in the winning.

Temple is experiencing a football revival not seen since the 1970s when winning and being coached by Wayne Hardin went hand-in-hand.

“I played for Temple University. At the time, we were a pretty good football team. But we weren’t a “football powerhouse”—we didn’t play in the Big 10 or nothing like that—but football for me in college was a lot of fun, just like most guys. I enjoyed my college career, I had a lot of great teammates and we did do well. “

Those were the words of Joe Klecko, written in 1990 in the book “The Sack Exchange: The Definitive History of the 1980s New York Jets.”

At 5 p.m., in the indoor practice facility on Broad Street, Collins will welcome Temple fans and unveil the signing class. With everything associated with Temple football these days, it should be fun and informative.

We will hold off on the judging part until all of the signatures are on the dotted line.

Thursday: Judgment Day