Ed Foley: Gone, but Not Forgotten

In my lifetime which  (unfortunately) is getting to be sadly very long, there have been very few Temple sports lifers.

Sports Information Director Al Shrier, for one. Baseball coach Skip Wilson, for another. Basketball coach Harry Litwack. Fencing coach Dr. Nikki Franke. Athletic director Gavin White.

That’s maybe it.

Even the great John Chaney started somewhere else.

There have been no Temple football lifers and the last possible one, Ed Foley, has just left the Edberg-Olson building for a job at Baylor. Not even the great Wayne Hardin, who stayed here 13 years, could be considered a lifer.


You don’t get rid
of one of the best
special teams coaches
in the country who is
admired and respected
at Temple by everyone,
alumni, fans, current
and ex-players,
without some pushback

Foley did not start at Temple, but I certainly thought he would finish here. After being a 7-15 head coach at Fordham, he arrived at Temple with Al Golden and helped resuscitate a brain dead program by breathing some CPR into it.

On April Fool’s Day, 2017, he filmed the video at the top of this post with Kevin Copp and said: “I don’t want to really be anywhere else.” I believed him then. I believe him now.

As a recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach for Golden, he helped recruit three of the top five MAC classes and that led to Temple getting a promotion to the Big East (now the AAC). As special teams coach for Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins, he had the Owls’ consistently rated in the top 10 in blocked punts and field goals.

This guy loved Temple. He loved Philadelphia. He wasn’t my choice to be head coach either time because a 7-15 record in his previous head coaching job does not represent the credentials needed to do the same job at Temple. He was not a great head coach as a 14.5-point favorite in an interim capacity against Wake Forest in 2016. Against Duke, he again proved my point that you can be the best assistant coach in the history of the world and a terrible game-day head coach. In fact, he proved that at Fordham when his 7-15 was sandwiched between two of the most successful head coaches in that school’s history, Dave Clawson and Joe Moorhead.

Still, he did everything that was asked of him at Temple and more. I know for a fact that he turned down an assistant coaching job at Purdue a couple of years ago to stay at Temple and he probably turned down other offers I did not know about.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

So that’s why it was so shocking to hear the news–first reported by Owlscoop.com–that Foley left to join Rhule in an off-the-field capacity at Baylor. He was already in an off-the-field capacity at Temple the last few months so it seemed odd to leave one job at a place he loved for another in a place he was unfamiliar with.

Maybe this quote in Saturday’s Marc Narducci story explained everything: “I don’t have an official title, but will be working with somebody I like and trust,” Foley said about Rhule.

Hmm. Translation: “I don’t like and trust Rod Carey.”

That seems to be abundantly clear. In the same story, Narducci said Carey was “unavailable for comment.” Unavailable for comment? Who is he, Howard Hughes?

Look, I LOVE the Rod Carey hire and I understand that he’s got to live and die with his own hires but this isn’t a good look. Foley has been able to get along with a divergent list of personalties, from Golden to Daz to Rhule to Collins and do it in a professional manner. You don’t get rid of one of the best special teams coaches in the country (face it, giving him a paper-pushing job is getting rid of him), a guy who is admired and respected at Temple by everyone, alumni, fans, current and ex-players, without some pushback. Especially when you bring in a guy from SMU whose special teams weren’t rated as highly as Foley’s. I have never run into a single person who said a negative word about Ed Foley the man. That is a truly rare individual.

Let’s hope Carey is able to explain this in a satisfactory manner sometime in the near future. Right now, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

In fact, it reeks.

Saturday: AAC Media Day

Monday: AAC Head-Scratchers

Advertisements

Open Letter to Pat Kraft: Honor TU’s Moon Landing

B5QtD2tCQAIXPq8

Dr. Patrick Kraft

Director of Athletics

Temple University

Broad Street and Montgomery Avenues

Philadelphia, PA 19122

 

Dear Pat,

In the next few days, you are going to be hearing a lot about the 50-year anniversary of the Moon Landing (July 20, 1969).

What you probably won’t be hearing about is Temple football’s Moon Landing, which came in 40 years ago on December 15, 1979, so we will fill you in here.

While it might have been technically harder for man to set foot on the moon, getting Temple to win a bowl game certainly is a feat that needs to be remembered and honored at some home game this season.

B5QtDwkCUAE6150

That’s because while, arguably, the quest for the Moon was really only talked about realistically after the Russians launched the satellite Sputnick (1957), Temple football had a similar quest to win a bowl game since they became a thing in the late 1920s.

Temple came close before, losing the first Sugar Bowl to Tulane (who could have figured that school would ever become a conference foe later?), 20-14, in 1934, the Owls did not even a chance for greatness until 49 years later.

So what took the United States less than a decade to accomplish as outlined in JFK’s 1961 Rice University commencement address, Temple football was looking to do really since 1934–an accomplishment that took about as long as the moon anniversary we are approaching.

belichick

“Even after Hardin landed at Temple, Belichick continued to pay close attention to the coach’s methods. In 1979, when the Owls took on heavily-favored Cal in the Garden State Bowl at Giants Stadium, Belichick was in attendance. The Giants special-teams coach at the time, Belichick sat with then Giants assistant Ernie Adams, who now works alongside Belichick as the football research director for the Patriots. “The pair of young and talented football minds were completely baffled as they watched Hardin toy with Cal’s linebackers, who were taught to read the guards in front of them.” _ Phil Perry, NBC Sports

The Owls did not get a sniff of a bowl after the Sugar until 1979, when they dismantled California, 28-17, before 40,207 fans at the Garden State Bowl. One of those in attendance that day was Bill Belichick, who took copiously detailed notes about how Wayne Hardin outcoached Cal’s Roger Theder.

Yet, as far at least a half-dozen members of that team we’ve contacted know, nothing is planned to commemorate that team this fall.

So far.

Plenty of time to rectify that and plenty of representatives of that team are available, tailgating in the far corner opposite the K Lot and across the main entrance.

By all metrics, the 1979 team has proven to be Temple’s best team ever. The 10-2 Owls finished 17th in both final polls (UPI and AP) and lost only to Pitt (10-2) and Penn State (22-7). Pitt was in the top 10 when it needed a late field goal to beat Temple. Imagine if the Owls were able to scrounge up 17 more points that year and finish 12-0? It would have meant a likely national title.

Temple.

In football.

National champions.

That’s pretty heady stuff and getting some of these guys together again in front of the fans–at least at halftime of the Oct. 12 Homecoming game against Memphis–should be on your end of the summer to-do list. Just roll out the guys at halftime, give them a plaque, and roll the 1979 highlights on the Jumbotron.

It’s the least they deserve.

Monday: Ed Foley is Gone But Not Forgotten

Some July 4 Recruiting Fireworks

carey

Coach Carey’s football camps served as a catalyst for an impressive recruiting haul so far.

One of the Temple assistant coaches tweeted out a message indicating that July 4 was a big day for Temple football.

He wasn’t kidding.

The Owls got these two graphic commitments below PLUS Willingboro (N.J.) wide receiver Chris Long.

Screenshot 2019-07-07 at 10.59.22 AM

As one Chris Long leaves his locker room at Lincoln Financial Field, another gets his locker there.  Maybe they can just move the nameplate to the Owls’ permanent lockerroom there.

Two very good players, one for the Eagles, one for the Owls.  Plus, Dyshier Clary and Alex Odom verbaled officially on July 4. It seems that Rod Carey’s football camps have left such a positive impact on a talented group of campers that offers are being accepted at a pretty fast clip.

Something good is happening this recruiting cycle and it appears that the talent is being upgraded–maybe significantly upgraded–over the last two Geoff Collins’ recruiting cycles.

There is always a caveat with recruiting these days because verbals are just that, a promise. Yet, looking over the last 10 classes, it’s a very rare instance that someone who made a promise to Temple flips and goes elsewhere. A couple of the biggest de-commits recently were Harrison Hand and Rob Saulin who Matt Rhule poached for Baylor but at least one of them came back (Hand, who has been approved to play this fall). Another who fits that bill was tight end Tyler Sear, who first committed to Temple only to flip to Pitt and now is back at Temple. Arkum Wadley committed to Temple and became a solid Big 10 running back for Iowa. Temple has benefited from the process as well as Karamo Dioubate committed first to Penn State, but changed his mind before signing day to Temple.

Right now, the Owls have 15 hard commitments, including Long, who turned down numerous Power 5 offers and is just the latest product of the hard work of recruiters extraordinaire Fran Brown. Between Brown and the NIU hires, including defensive line coach Walter Stewart. The Northern Illinois hires were able to bring in a top defensive lineman from Chicago that they were pursuing from a long time ago and Brown has been able to get his top targets.

So far, Scout.com lists Temple as second in the conference in recruiting.

You can say with a bullet because, when others were barbecuing and hitting the shore, the Temple coaches were hard at work. With roughly 10 more scholarships (given variables like attrition), the best might be yet to come.

Saturday: Temple’s Moon Landing

Monday (7/15): Who’s Here and Who’s Not

Saturday (7/21): GT Looks at Temple

(Due to a change in my work schedule at my primary job, posts will be Saturdays and Mondays through the Bucknell game, then we will resume a three-day schedule–Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays after the opener)

Best of TFF: There are no words

Editor’s Note: Bill Maher takes the entire month of July off. We only take the first week. Our July 4th Best of TFF story is the most-viewed story in the 15-year history of this blog. Thanks to a big boost of traffic from Deadspin redirecting readers here, we had 388,569 unique readers to this story, the most-viewed story in a single day in the history of TFF. Monday, we resume the regular blog.

The morning after arguably the greatest win in Temple football history, there are no words.

Literally no words are coming out of my mouth, at least in the sense of being able to talk this morning.

The throaty and hoarse condition is more than OK because it was the result of cheering for the Owls at beautiful Navy-Marine Corps Stadium as they captured what really is their first-ever major football championship. The 1967 MAC title was admirable, but that was a day when the school played to a level of football that was beneath their status even then as one of America’s great public universities.

So this was it.

ride

Walking out of the stadium and into the concourse, I let out a very loud primal: “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!”

Fortunately, I got a few high fives and smiles from my fellow Temple fans and not fitted for a straightjacket. It also put the voice out for 24 hours, maybe more.

When it comes to Temple football today at least, you cannot think in terms of a national championship—the deck is stacked against G5 teams in an unfair system—so what happened yesterday was the pinnacle of Temple football success. Thousands of Temple fans, easily in excess of 10,000 Temple fans, made Navy’s 15-game home winning streak a moot point by turning that stadium into a Temple home field advantage and to get to that mountaintop and look down from it is incredibly satisfying.

Hey, it’s a pretty spectacular pinnacle. The only thing that would have made it better was a G5 slot in a New Year’s Six bowl against Penn State, but that’s not happening for a number of reasons that are not important today. (Objectively, would you take a team for the Cotton Bowl that has won seven straight against this schedule and beat a Navy team, 34-10, over a Western Michigan team that struggled to beat a four-loss Ohio team? I would but I don’t expect the bowl committee to be that objective. I can also grudingly see the WMU argument.)

What is important is that the Owls have gone from being a perennial Bottom 10 team and laughed at nationally to being ranked in the Top 25 for two straight years and going to a title game one year and winning it the next. When you think of the success P.J. Walker and Jahad Thomas have had here, there is a Twilight Zone quality to the parallel between this success and their success at Elizabeth (N.J.). In their freshman year at Elizabeth, they won one game; in their freshman year at Temple they won two games. In their sophomore year at both schools, they won six games. In their junior year at both schools, they reached the title game and lost and, in their senior year at both schools, they lifted the ultimate hardware together.

Truly amazing and I will miss both of those guys.

Back on Cherry and White Day, I wrote that this team will be better than last year’s team while people on other websites—notably, Rutgers and Penn State fan boards—insisted that Temple would take a step back. I was consistent in my belief that this was the STEP FORWARD year, not the step back one, and that belief was rooted in knowledge that both the defense and offense were significantly upgraded despite graduation losses. Only a Temple fan who follows the team closely would know that, not the know-it-alls who make assumptions on subjects they have no idea what they are talking about.

Today at noon, the Owls will know where they will go for a bowl game. They can finish the season in the top 25 and set the record for most wins in Temple football history.

It won’t be the cake because we saw that yesterday, but it will be the Cherry on top of that white cake and it will be delicious even going down past what promises to be a future sore throat.

Latest hit piece: Keep Temple’s name out of your mouth

Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 4.14.41 PM

No big fan of Donovan McNabb here, but his take on a controversy with Terrell Owens in 2005 applies to David Jones’ latest hit piece on Temple football almost 15 years later.

“Keep my name out of your mouth.”

Instead of “my” substitute “Temple’s” and it becomes a perfect retort.

Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 4.25.27 PM

Jones, who writes for Penn Live, had a strange take on UConn’s exit to the Big East (and apparent de-emphasis of football). He lumped UConn and Temple together, saying Temple should also de-emphasize football and insinuated that it should rejoin the A-10 at the expense of a football affiliation with the AAC.

That is a weak take on so many levels we’ll just concentrate on some here:

  • One, UConn is coming off a decade of failure in football while Temple has enjoyed a decade of sustained success.
  • Two, Temple is not trying to get into the P5. Sure, it would love a P5 invite but I think even the most optimistic Temple fans are not expecting one in the next decade. G5 football is a significant upgrade over FCS, though, and a proven spot where Temple can thrive. If Dave is saying the entire G5 should give up and drop to FCS, that’s one thing but I don’t think he’s saying that.
  • Three, Temple earned in addition to the millions off its AAC football contract, $6 million with the Manny Diaz buyout and $2.6 million with the Geoff Collins’ buyout. Rod Carey’s buyout is $10 million. Owls are not going to leave that money on the table by dropping to FCS.
  • Four, the AAC as currently constituted, is a better basketball conference than the A10 as currently constituted.

Why would Temple, which enjoys terrific football TV ratings and a steady uptick in football attendance, jeopardize any part of its football franchise to ostensibly prop up its basketball one?

I don’t know what his point was. Should Temple drop out of the G5 and the AAC even though it has the most regular-season league football wins since 2015? (More than UCF, Houston, Memphis and USF). That’s a little like the Dems asking Joe Biden to drop out before the first debate (although maybe he should drop out now after it). G5 is not big-time football but it’s certainly better for Temple than an A10 basketball/FCS football combo. (Good luck drawing flies in FCS football to the Linc.)

Plus, there is absolutely no assurance that investing in basketball at the expense of football would improve that product. Why not pursue excellence in the two marquee sports?

In college athletics, you can both walk and chew gum at the same time.

Temple can and should do both and ignore the haters who keep putting the Owls’ name in their mouths.

Monday: Our one week of vacation a year (and five best-of-TFF columns M-F)

July 8: A partnership that works

July 11: Roll call

 

 

UConn: Bye, Felicia!

bye

My reaction over the weekend when it was leaked that the University of Connecticut would be leaving the AAC for the Big East was not unlike that Ice Cube gif (left).

Bye, Felicia!

Because no matter how much UConn huffed and puffed and tried to resuscitate its failing football program, the patient died as a result of some pretty bad administrative decisions. (Hiring a hot assistant doesn’t always work as Bob Diaco the assistant coach of the year for Notre Dame turned into a nightmare as a head coach for UConn.)

Really, what was the difference between what happened to Temple in 2003 and UConn now? The Big East then kicked Temple out for what it perceived to be (their words) “non-competitiveness” when, in reality, Temple was regularly beating some teams that the Big East decided to keep.

UConn was beating really nobody last year in football and its once dynamite men’s basketball program was in the middle of the league’s pack. (Hell, it’s now hard to pick out Geoff Collins’ worst loss: 2018 Villanova or 2017 UConn. Both times he played arguably the second-best quarterback on the team so it might be a toss-up.)

The AAC probably didn’t have the stones to kick out UConn like the Big East did to Temple back then so, in effect, what the UConn leaders did this week a favor to the AAC. There is no chance the league allows UConn to take out both of its good programs (men’s and women’s basketball) and leave its one crappy program (football).

Good riddance.

Temple, in my mind, belongs in the Power 5 but that doesn’t appear on the horizon soon and, failing that, we have to accept where we are now and UConn leaving the league improves our lot at least a little bit.

Now the American can add a team like BYU (not likely) or Buffalo/Army (more likely). They would have to figure out a way to flip the Army/Navy week and the league championship weeks and that might be an insurmountable hurdle. If so, then the league turns to Buffalo, which more fits the AAC profile of larger TV markets and has a program that is immediately ready to compete in the two highest-profile sports. AAC would have the top G5 market (Philadelphia, 4) plus Dallas-Ft. Worth (5), Washington D.C. (Navy, 9th), Tampa-St. Pete (USF, 13th), Orlando (UCF, 19th), Cincinnati (34th), Memphis (48th) and Buffalo (51) and New Orleans (Tulane, 53). That’s a lot of eyeballs.

Buffalo would be the logical choice, about the same distance away as UConn for Temple fans, and a current upgrade in both sports.

That should and will probably be the successful Northeast school that replaces the unsuccessful departed one.

Saturday: The Latest Hit Piece on Temple football

Monday: A Week of Best of TFFs

 

 

Magazine Season: Follow The Money

athlon

Sadly, not a single Owl in sight

About this time every year (maybe for the last 40 or so), the routine is simple.

Go shopping, pick up milk, bread, some cheap suburban soda and check out the magazine aisle before leaving.

This is the time of year where the college football magazines come out and the sports fantasy has always been to see the Temple Owls if not prominently featured on the cover at least in one of those flaps in the corner.

Maybe one day, but that day wasn’t last week.

It never happens because money talks loudly in cases like this.

Penn State could have the worst team in history coming back and Temple could be favored to win the AAC and it will be PSU on the cover and not our beloved TU. That’s because the magazine editors see the 100,000 average fans the Nittany Lions pull in and contrast that with last season’s 28,167 Temple average and figure out who gets the press.

Journalistic integrity?

Preseason magazines clueless about Owls

That went out the window a long time ago.

Still, it’s worth mentioning here how Athlon–considered by some the leader in college sports magazines–rates the Owls. Temple is ranked as No. 78 overall and, in a landscape that has the top 80 teams going bowling, that translates to a 6-6 record.

If so, I’m headed out to Parx Casino to put money on the over.

Interestingly enough, UCF is No. 22 nationally, Cincinnati No. 39 and Memphis No. 49.  Houston comes in at No. 53 but at least the Owls have ranked ahead of No. 80 Tulane and No. 102 Navy. (Houston is a team the Owls scored 59 points on in a road game last year.)

Both P5 Temple opponents have ranked ahead of the Owls as Maryland comes in at 65 and Georgia Tech at 75.

Other than the financial incentive of ranking these teams, the other factor is research. There’s so little interest in Temple from the editorial standpoint of these publications that they don’t put enough weight on factors that include Temple hiring a complete FBS professional staff, while Georgia Tech and Maryland enter the season with staffs that have largely underachieved elsewhere. Mix in both of them are home games for Temple and it is more than reasonable to assume the Owls will be able to duplicate their win over Maryland and beat an “easier” foe in Georgia Tech.

We might know that but they certainly don’t or don’t even care. Gotta think that they have those down as two losses for the Owls and why Temple is a 6-6 team from their perspective.

If Vegas agrees, then a trip to the local gambling establishment would be following the money from another angle.

There is nothing more satisfying than proving these magazines wrong and I that’s just what this Owls’ team is primed to do.

Tuesday: Bye, Felicia (UConn)

Saturday: A Stadium Partnership That Worked

Sunday (June 30): Our One-Week Annual Vacation=5 Straight Days of Best of TFF