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

5 Reasons To Get Excited About Geoff Collins

The only thing that would make Geoff Collins more appealing to Temple fans is that John Chaney’s love for, success at and loyalty to Temple rubs off on that handshake and exceeds any dollar signs tossed in front of him.

collins

We were not able to photoshop a Temperor hat on this graphic.

In this cyber world, you detect clues about what is happening by simply reading a man’s twitter feed and that is certainly true with new Temple football head coach Geoff Collins.

Taking out the retweets, the last five original Collins’ posts thank Under Armour (an apparel company) for a welcome package; another is about how he is proud of a former player (Brian Poole), for making the Super Bowl, a tribute to Temple academic excellence at and a posting a graphic about Temple TUFF.

Compare that to former head coach Matt Rhule’s last five tweets and all are welcoming new recruits.


While Saint Matt Rhule
might have been demoted
to a more middle class
part of Heaven by poaching
a pair of Temple recruits,
the fact that Collins did
not poach Florida recruits
is a good thing, not a bad
one. Even the vilified Steve
Addazio promised he would not
go after the Temple guys
he recruited on the way out
the E-O door and at least Daz
kept his promise. Taking two
Temple commits is unethical
and a pretty classless way
to thank a school that gave
you so much.

No one can really say that translates to Rhule recruiting success versus Collins’ recruiting success in essentially the same time frame, but the clues are the clues. Rhule has filled the 25 scholarships he has this year and most of them are three-star talents and above. Collins is sitting on 15 right now after having lost a couple of Temple commits, one a three-star.

Of the five things we can get excited about for our new coach, recruiting—at least this year and at least a few days ahead of National Signing Day—does not appear to be one of them. As Cubs’ fans used to say, wait until next year.

We’ve always wrote we’d be honest with you and this would not turn out to be Matt Rhule Pravda and we kept that promise and we will keep it that way with Collins. Had Collins brought with him a couple of Florida commits, like Rhule did with two Temple commits, we might be singing a different tune. You can talk all you want about this being Collins’ first recruiting class and most of them were Rhule’s guys but, to be fair, Rhule walked into the same new situation at Baylor and was more successful.

Addazio, Rhule and Al Golden’s first classes will probably all be rated higher than Collins’ first class.

We’re calling it as we see it and he did not hit that first recruiting drive straight down the middle.

There are, though, five things to get excited about :

rhulepromise

5—The Man Appears Principled

While Saint Matt Rhule might have been demoted to a more middle class part of Heaven by poaching a pair of Temple recruits, the fact that Collins did not poach Florida recruits is a good thing, not a bad one. Even the vilified Steve Addazio promised he would not go after the Temple guys he recruited on the way out the E-O door and at least Daz kept his promise. Taking two Temple commits is unethical a pretty classless way to thank a school that gave you so much. If Collins would have retaliated by taking two Baylor commits, that would have been impressive. Still, there is something to be said about the man not raiding his fellow employer.

4—He Was Rhule’s Boss

As Rhule’s boss, both at Albright and Western Carolina, you can assume that he had the answers and Rhule had the questions back then. Now Temple is getting the guy with the answers.

3—He Knows The Program

When he was hired, Collins said he followed the Temple program closely over the last four years and actually participated in key philosophical changes in the program. Since the only key philosophical change in the program was going from a spread with multiple wide receivers to a pro-type play action using a fullback, Collins can theoretically be credited for curing the Owls’ anemic offense. He will come in and hit the ground running, literally.

2—Hit Home Run With Key Assistants

Both Dave Patenaude (pronounced Patton Nude, which is not a pretty picture) and Taver Johnson seem to know what the plan is to take Temple the next level. Patenaude is going to continue to use the fullback and two tight ends, but add slinging the ball deep to the formula. Johnson should continue the success on the defensive side of the ball and was a better  DC at Miami (Ohio) than Phil Snow was at the same level (Eastern Michigan).

1—Game Day Coaching

This was a weakness of Rhule’s first two years. We do not know for sure, but Collins’ understanding of the program and the offensive and defensive philosophies sets him up as a better game day coach that Rhule was, who fumbled and stumbled in his first two seasons.

Tuesday: What To Expect

5 Reasons Recruits Should Pick Temple

There is no place  you can feel the college spirit like Temple University.

When Raheem Blackshear flipped his commitment from Temple to Michigan State, the first thought to occur to me was wondering if he had a chance to sit down and talk with fellow Bucks County high school superstars Colin Thompson and Jake O’Donnell.

Both Thompson, who is from the same high school as Blackshear (Archbishop Wood) and O’Donnell, who is from nearby Central Bucks East, were blinded by the big-time program allure and committed to the University of Florida and the University of Miami, respectively.

highpoint

If Blackshear had a chance to speak with those two, they no doubt would have told them that, while their experiences at Florida and Miami were nice, looking for those Acres of Diamonds in far-away places proved to be elusive.

They found them in their own backyards at Temple, where they both went out as champions of the American Athletic Conference where ALL (and not just some) of their family members could see them play in person.

Both have prestigious Temple degrees and already are networking with Temple alumni which set them up for a great future in the town where they will conduct their business.

Those are just a couple of sensible reasons to look for Acres of Diamond in your own backyard. Here are five others:

ride

5—Great Education

Temple is the sixth-largest educator of professionals in the United States and its Fox Business School is ranked among the best in the nation. More than 90 percent of the players in all of college football never make it to the pros (that includes CFL and Arena Football), so having a respected sheepskin to fall back on is a big plus and Temple has that respect.

4—Championships

The football Owls have won the last two AAC East titles and capped that with an overall championship this year. They have had two consecutive 10-win seasons and appear poised for a nice run of more double-digit win seasons.

3—The League

Current Temple players in the NFL include Muhammad Wilkerson  and Robby Anderson of the Jets, Brandon McManus of the Broncos, Tahir Whitehead of the Lions, Rod Streeter of the 49ers, Tavon Young of the Ravens, Matt Ioannidis of the Redskins and Tyler Matakevich of the Steelers. Soon to be joining them are Dion Dawkins, Nate Hairston and Haason Reddick, among others. If you make an impact in a large television market like Philadelphia, you will get a chance to make millions in the league. That league is the ultimate goal, though, made possible because the AAC is a great league with wins over Oklahoma, Louisville, Penn State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State, among others, in the short span of the last two years. Temple is the champion of that great league.

templefans

2—Television

All of the Owls’ games are on national television so, while they are outside the Power 5, their status as the No. 1 team in the nation’s fourth-largest media market assures plenty of TV eyeballs for every game.

1—Family

Temple and Philadelphia is right in the center of a geographical area that includes 46 percent of the nation’s population, meaning a home game is within a manageable day’s drive for any recruit from Boston to the north to the North Carolina border. Family to Temple means more than geography, though. It means a strong bonding between the family of the players who are here and the family of fans who have been here. The players and coaches may come and go but the friendships remain forever.

I know I will always remain friends with the family of our last bowl-winning quarterback, Chris Coyer, and I cherish the friendships I have with the family of Adrian and Averee Robinson and so many other ex-Temple players.

That’s part of the reason why we call this Temple Football Forever.

If you have any other good reasons for recruits to pick Temple, please add them in the comments below.

Sunday: Five Reasons To Get Fired Up About Coach Collins

Tuesday: Bracing For Impact

Thursday: An Honest Evaluation of This Class

One Step Back Two Steps Forward for G5

lockherup

Hopefully, Temple gets a P5 commit or two aboard the flip train in a week.

If Melania Trump really wanted to make an impact with her anti-bullying policies, she would start not at the elementary school level but all the way into the colleges at the top of the bullying food chain.

Tell the Power 5 to stop bullying the G5.

From effectively banning G5 forever from the national Final Four to stealing G5 recruits with impunity on National Signing Day, the Power 5 has set the standard for bullying.

The latest result of the bullying was Michigan State swooping in and taking away Temple commit Raheem Blackshear today.

We doubt Mrs. Trump had anything to do with it, but the G5 scored the smallest possible and maybe its only victory against the P5 when the NCAA’s Division I Football Committee expressed support for moving the signing date backward to December from February.

How does this help the G5?

Well, considering that the middle of December is the time when the P5 schools are ostensibly pre-occupied with preparing for bowl games and the G5 schools are playing in lesser bowls, the G5 staffs can pound the pavements harder to keep their recruits. Usually, the P5 schools do not start poaching G5 commits until AFTER their bowl games, when they have more time to review the film.

Would Temple have lost Blackshear if the signing day was in mid-December, not at the start of February? Possibly, but the indisputable fact is that Michigan State did not get involved with Blackshear until late December, not mid-December.

This has hurt schools like Temple in particular because former coach Matt Rhule had such a good eye for grading film he developed a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough. The P5 would let coaches like Rhule do their grunt work for them, then sweep down to take one of his recruits they might like after their bowl games were completed.

Cutting the time down to mid-December only helps the G5 coaches hold onto their discoveries.

Now if Mrs. Trump can do something about getting the AAC champ an automatic bid in an eight-team playoff, then she can have something tangible to show for her anti-bullying initiative.

Friday: Five Ways to Say No To Bullies