Stadium: No News Is Bad News

Colorado State was able to get this done in less than half the time TU talked about it.

Way back in May, a post from an ardent Temple fan on one of the two message boards covering Owl sports, read: “When You Hear Nothing, it’s a good thing.”

To use a double-negative for literary effect, nobody knows nothing about anything when it comes to concrete and mortar movement on a new football stadium, err, “multi-use complex” for Temple University.

Colorado State University

It will be a long time before the construction workers show up at Temple

That’s not a good thing, unless you are against the idea of an on-campus stadium at Temple.

Our esteemed friend who posted that is an Owl fan from Virginia who knows a lot about many things but very little about Philadelphia politics. In the same thread, someone else posted “I’m hearing a shovel-in-the-ground date will be in August.”

Obviously, that guy, too, is from a place where the Government functions at a reasonable pace without the palms outstretched and greased. Philadelphia City government in the 21st Century is something that would make the Tamney Hall guys blush.

There will be no “shovel-in-the-ground” date this August simply because there are no scheduled meetings of Philadelphia City Council’s facilities committee—the one that would have to approve Temple’s plan for closing 15th Street—on the docket.

City Council’s  adjourns for the summer after meeting tomorrow (June 21) and does not return until September. So file away the “I’m hearing” guy under another piece of misinformation that has been disseminated about this project since the words “done deal” were uttered in March of 2012.

That was six years ago.

Six.

By contrast, the new stadium at Colorado State was proposed in 2014 and construction started in March of 2016 and there has been a full season of football played in it already. That’s Fort Collins, Colorado. This is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where there has been no progress with the neighbors and their representatives who oppose this plan and another key City Council period to get something done is about to expire.

No deal has been done and no news is definitely not good news.

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Only Birthday Wish: Stadium Closure

rendering

If this doesn’t work at 15th and Norris, Broad and Master should be an option.

Another year down, another foot closer to the grave.

That’s a harsh way to look at it but, when the years in the rear view mirror represent a long road and looming just ahead is a brick wall with failing brakes those are, err, the breaks.

Come Tuesday, I will smile at whatever “happy birthdays” come my way with the realization that there has been nothing happy about the day since, oh, about age 40 when I realized what the average life expectancy was for someone of my demographic.

Taking the optimistic view, at least I don’t ever have any intentions of exiting stage right like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade did last week.

There is too much to live for, like maybe another Temple football championship this year.

While that would be nice to get, the birthday present I would like most doesn’t involve a Stormy Daniels encounter or a lottery win as much as closure on this ongoing Temple Stadium issue.

One way or another. If it’s happening, I want to see a shovel-in-the-ground date in the next month. If not, I want to know that, too, in roughly the same time frame.

A good friend of mine ran into a member of Temple Board of Trustees in March, 2012—the day Fran Dunphy’s basketball team beat North Carolina State in the NCAA tournament—and the BOT member told him the stadium was a “done deal.”

Three years ago—in 2015—I was told by a BOT member on Cherry and White Day (not the same one) that the ACC wanted Temple to build a stadium first and, if the Owls did, an invitation to join that league would be forthcoming within a couple of years. The ACC did not know if Temple was committed to football and needed a concrete sign like a stadium before considering Temple.

Since 2012, all we’ve heard is a lot of talk and very little action other than drawings or renderings or an open meeting shouted down by the neighbors.

Some done deal.

To get things done in Philadelphia, you need the approval of the City Government and that hasn’t happened. I’ve vacillated on this stadium over the last five years but only a few months ago came to the conclusion I was for it for a simple practical reason. The BOT almost voted to eliminate Temple football in 2005 (the measure lost by a single vote) and no stadium and no additional Linc deal could regenerate the same kind of opposition. They might have to move the site from Broad and Norris to Broad and Master, but they should be willing to do it if that turns out to be the only option. Building a stadium means Temple Football Forever.

I know this blog won’t last forever, but I hope the program does and it would be nice to know what the deal is on that very soon.

This never-ending saga needs to conclude on way or another.

Wednesday: No News Is Bad News

Recruiting: Encouraging Signs in Early Returns

smiling

Not every recruit gets to experience this championship feeling like they do at Temple

College football recruiting ranking this early in the game are like exit polls in politics.

They don’t mean much except to a small core of addicts but do give some insight into where the process is headed.

For Temple football, that apparently is a good place because the Owls through their early camps—the places where the hard recruiting work is done—seem to be doing just fine with their AAC peers and, more importantly, the future regional P5 schools on the schedule.

Let’s take the Temple versus Rutgers and Temple vs. Georgia Tech  comparisons for instance. It’s important because Temple plays GT in 2019 and 2020 and RU in 2020 and 2021.

On Scout.com, which now encompasses the old 247.com site (with 50 full-time recruiting experts on the staff, Temple is ranked No. 63, while Rutgers is ranked 54. Both teams have six commitments with RU having five “three-stars” and Temple three of the same. Both teams are ahead of schools like Kansas State and Texas Tech.

On Rivals.com, Rutgers is No. 58 and Temple is No. 58—also ahead of Kansas State and Texas Tech. GT is 44 on Scout and 46 on Rivals. These numbers, of course, could change for the better or the worse but a lot of the groundwork has been laid by this charismatic coaching staff who connects well with the kids.

To use a political term, that is within the “margin of error” meaning that depending on how the respective staffs “coach up their player” could mean give one school or the other the overall talent advantage a couple of  years down the line.

Given Geoff Collins’ proven track record at places like Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia Tech, that’s a good sign for Temple.

Collins was the defensive coordinator at two of those schools and the recruiting coordinator at the two others so he knows the talent coming and going.

By this time, Collins should know what he’s doing in terms of what it takes to push the right buttons in the kids’ (and their parents’) minds to get them to commit. It certainly helps that he has a world-class university in a world-class city to sell.

Signing day will tell the rest of the story, but the exit polls are trending in a very good way.

Monday: Birthday Wishes

Wednesday: No News Is Bad News

Friday: Expanded Bowls

Monday (6/25): New Redshirt Rule

Wednesday (6/27): Under (Center) Pressure

Road Trips: Early Owl Gets The Worm

bcstadium

Temple fans deserve a stadium every bit as nice as this 45K stadium in Chestnut Hill.

You hear it all the time, usually at tailgates far away from the students who do not know any better.

“It’s not like the old days.”

Pretty much everything about Temple football these days is better than those days, though, except for one detail:

Road Trips.

oneleft

Gone are the days where you can hop in the car and be in Central Jersey by noon for a game against Rutgers (although those days come back in a couple) and hit the road for a trip at Delaware or make a 5-hour drive up the Northeast Extension for a game at Syracuse.

Now the road trips, should you go, are in far-flug places like Tulsa, Dallas and Orlando.

Not as easy to get to as the old days.

fireaddazio

Steve Addazio (and probably Matt Rhule and Al Golden) has to be thinking: “I left a lifetime job at Temple for THIS?”

Still, though, there are a couple of intriguing road trips on the schedule this year and to maximize enjoyment of them, the early bird—in this case, Owl—gets the worm.

Owl fans have been to the Washington, D.C., area at least four times over the last nine years—the Eagle Bank Bowl (2009), a 38-7 win at Maryland (2011), the Military Bowl (2015) and the 34-10 league championship win at Navy (2016).

So, while D.C. is a great town with many sites and sights to see, most Owl fans will approach that trip with a been/there/done/that attitude and drive down for the game.

Boston, though, is a completely different story.

It’s a great town with just as many venues as D.C. and it’s been a long time since Temple fans have been there. That’s a place screaming for more than a day trip and the lesson to be learned is preparation is key.

As can be seen in the illustration on this post, there is one room left on the night of Sept. 28th in a hotel nearby Boston College at the very reasonable price of $93 a night. It’s a significant jump to the next, err, cheapest room ($152).

One year, two great road trips and, if you are planning to stay in Boston, making the necessary hotel and car reservations now is probably the time to do it.

Maryland, that sounds like a fan bus to me but hopefully as much fun as the last fan bus there turned out to be, basking in a 38-7 road win while watching Caddyshack broadcast on the bus TVs on the way home. When it got to a topless scene, you could hear a couple of the older ladies in the back of the bus gasp.

An athletic department representative then took to the bus intercom:

“This is a Bill Bradshaw-approved video.”

Great line about his boss, the Temple (now LaSalle University) athletic director and a funny way to end a fun day.

Here’s hoping the road trips on the docket in a few months are just as fun.

Immediate Needs: RB, CB, FB

nitro

Geoff Collins checks the footwear to see if Nitro can fill Nick Sharga’s shoes.

There were at least a couple of times a first-year coaching staff was caught with its pants down a year ago at Temple University.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.

One of them came at East Carolina, running backs went down so fast that the Owls were down to moving their backup fullback—Nick Ritrovato—to tailback and he responded in a big way with 14 carries for 48 yards to close out a 34-10 win at ECU. Had the then walk-on not responded like a scholarship player, that game might have turned out differently. Nitro received his scholarship on Oct. 27th. The other time the Owls coaches got caught with their pants down was failing to identify that the gamer at quarterback was the backup, not the starter, for the first seven games.

In that instance, the season might have turned out differently.

For Temple to be successful this season, Nitro needs to move back to fullback and create holes for the tailbacks as a lead blocker to set up the play-action passing game for Frank Nutile. That’s Temple TUFF in a nutshell. Let’s hope Dave Patenaude can grasp that simple concept.

This year, the suspenders are tightened and the pants are mostly secure, but that does not mean the Owls have no immediate needs.

They can start with the areas they lost two players, a 6-foot-6 corner with speed in Derrick Thomas, who took his graduate transfer year and reunited with Matt Rhule at Baylor. The other was the unfortunate loss of David Hood at running back, who was told by the doctors that his last concussion was one too many. For what it’s worth, it would be useful as well to develop a backup plan at fullback should Nitro go down.


For Temple to be
successful this season,
Nitro needs to move back
to fullback and create holes
for the tailbacks as a lead
blocker to set up the
play-action passing game
for Frank Nutile.
That’s Temple TUFF in a nutshell

Thomas probably wasn’t going to beat out Linwood Crump Jr. at one corner position—he was behind him in the “above the line” area last year—and certainly wasn’t going to beat out FCS first-team All Big South corner Rock Ya-Sin at the other. Still, he would have provided a valuable insurance policy for the Owls at that position if attrition came into play.

At running back, Rock Armstead is primed for a Bernard Pierce-type season if he can stay healthy and Jager Gardner is back from his injury but the ranks are pretty thin behind that. Tyliek Raynor was a big-time recruit, and should be healthy but he is an unknown at this point. This looks like an area were one of the incoming true freshman, like Kyle Dobbins, will have an opportunity to make an impact.

The other areas—offensive and defensive lines—look like they are in good shape. Chris Wisehan, the offensive line coach, said the Owls interior three—two guards and center Matt Hennessey—were the best the team has had since he’s been here and he’s one of the few holdovers of the Rhule staff.

As loaded as the Owls are, cornerback and running back looks like the fastest way for the incoming freshmen to get on the field and it is vital for a couple of those to come through when their number is called.

Just like Nitro did.

 

Could Geoff Collins Be THE One?

kraft

Press conferences hiring FBS head coaches are elaborate and well-attended functions with both sides toasting the other with usually a few hundred glowing words.

Unlike another elaborate and well-attended function with similar toasts, the words “until death do us part” are never uttered.

veracity

That’s because these things usually end with that old business formula: Up or out.

For Temple recently, it’s been a lot of ups—Miami, Boston College and Baylor come to mind—and few outs (Bobby Wallace).

That’s a good thing.

The only scenario better for the Owls would be an “up and up” situation like the ones currently enjoyed by places like Ohio University and The Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Of the successful Group of Five coaches in the last decade, just about everyone other than Frank Solich (Ohio) and Ken Niumatalolo (Navy) have moved on to so-called greener pastures. So-called because the Temple coaches who left probably now are finding out that money does not buy the same type of happiness they had at 10th and Diamond.

After Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule did not, is head coach Geoff Collins The One to give Temple football a long-term commitment?

Temple fans have longed hoped that some coach looks into that history and figures out that $2 million-a-year is enough to live on and have a nice life without having one eye on the door.

Maybe we’re reading a little too much into this, but Geoff Collins gave an indication he’s only planning to go one place for any extended period NEXT offseason.

Rome.

Collins committed to taking a group of a dozen football Owls to Rome next season after a successful trip to Tokyo last month.

Rome, like Tokyo, hosts a satellite campus of Temple University and the Owls plan to go there next year.

If Collins can do something like winning a championship here this year and fixing the revolving door at the E-O and stay next year, he will be joining a pretty exclusive club.

For now, though, keeping that Rome trip commitment after any kind of positive success this season would be a good way to start.

Monday: Immediate Needs

Wednesday: Road Trips

Friday: Early Recruiting Rankings of Note

Monday (6/18): Birthday Wishes

Wednesday (6/20): When No News Equals Bad News

AAC Race Should Come Into Focus Early

intensity

Owls are the only AAC team to play two Power 5 foes on the road.

You can tell a lot about how the AAC football season will go by around midnight on the first Saturday of action.

That’s when many of you—at least me—will be home from the Temple at Villanova football and Cubs at Phillies baseball sports doubleheader and home on the couch as halftime approaches of the Navy at Hawaii football game.

By then, we should have a pretty good picture of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams.

Here’s a look:

      • Houston is playing its crosstown rival, Rice, at the same time (noon) the Owls are playing Villanova. If either Temple or Houston struggle against either team, it’s probably not going to be a good season. More likely, is the scenario that both AAC teams win those games in the area of 41-14, 35-21. At least that’s the hope.

 

      • Even if ECU is down this year, and the Pirates are, they should smoke North Carolina A&T in their 6 p.m. opener.
      • Don’t sleep on the Elon Phoenix, though, in another 6 p.m. game. Coached by former Temple assistant coach Curt Cignetti, Elon won both at No. 8 Richmond (featuring New York Giant draft choice and quarterback Kyle Lauletta) and beat Villanova by a wider margin than Temple did a year ago. The Phoenix travel to USF and, if Cignetti is able to beat Charley Strong before a sparse crowd in Tampa, he immediately gets mentioned for FBS head coaching jobs.
      • The marquee game of the night for the league is an hour later when Cincinnati travels to UCLA. The Bearcats have had the top two-rated recruiting classes the last two years and if they can beat UCLA (without Josh Rosen but still a good P5 team), they will immediately enter the conversation for the AAC East title with UCF and Temple.

On Thursday, Aug. 30, there are a couple of interesting games as Wake Forest travels to Tulane and UCF visits UConn. UCF will enter as the favorite to win the AAC East, but any team with an unproven first-year head coach is a crapshoot. The last time Wake Forest played Tulane, it won, 7-0. That was the same Wake Forest team that beat the Matt Rhule-less Owls, 34-26. (Temple beat Tulane that year with Rhule, 31-0, and that was probably the main reason the Owls entered the Military Bowl with as a 13.5 favorite.)

In ensuing weeks, Temple is the only team in the league to take on two Power 5 foes on the ROAD. Other AAC teams have dipped their toes into that water only once, as UCF travels to North Carolina, Houston is at Texas Tech, Tulsa at Texas, ECU at Virginia Tech, SMU is at Michigan and USF is at Illinois.

Some of those other AAC teams have a second P5 opponent, but those games are home games. So if Temple is able to pull off a couple of road P5 wins and take the league as well, it puts the Owls in the national conversation. Summer officially ends on Sept. 23.

By the end of it, we should be able to separate the pretenders from the contenders.

Friday: Is This The One?