Just where is Temple University football following Friday afternoon’s Military Bowl loss to North Carolina?
If you ask me, well … put it this way, if Manny Diaz got canned tomorrow by the University of Miami, and he wanted a do-over with the Owls, Temple athletic director Pat Kraft and Co. would be wise to open the door while politely pushing out Rod Carey through another one.
Kidding aside … not kidding.
Just not a fan of Carey as Temple’s head coach. The hire gave me the same tepid to sinking feeling that Fran Dunphy’s did as the men’s basketball coach at the school almost a decade and a half ago.
A nice guy who is going to lead a Temple program nowhere.
Dunphy supporters, apologists and rationalizers aside, the reality is, that’s exactly where the basketball program on North Broad went in his tenure – nowhere.
Temple, to me, will reach the same destination with Carey.
He is cut from the same cloth as Dunphy. Won’t ruffle administrative feathers. Won’t create any negative headlines with his actions or words. Won’t rock any boat whatsoever.
He also, like Dunphy, won’t recruit to the level Temple needs in order to be relevant. In the city of Philadelphia. Outside of it, too.
Just doesn’t have that kind of pedigree. Coming from Mid-American Conference middling Northern Illinois, Carey road the coattails of the players brought in by the man who preceded him, Dave Doeren, now at N.C. State, as the Huskies’ head man. Once those kids started to filter out of the program in Dekalb, Ill., so, too, did a large number of wins.
Point being, when Carey took over there, Northern Illinois was the cream of the MAC crop. By the time he signed with Temple a year ago now, the Huskies were fairly mediocre and headed toward being fully mediocre.
His first recruiting class for the Owls, which commenced before that eye-opening, 55-13 whipping at the hands of the Tar Heels, was, in a word, frightening.
Frightening for anyone harboring hope that Temple would not only maintain its current level of success, but improve on it.
As the litany of undersized projects that Carey and his staff signed, reality was a dish served ice cold. Much, much colder than anything the Owls themselves felt in Annapolis, Md., late last week.
To be fair, Carey has not whiffed with every decision he’s made since taking the Temple gig. Accepting a meeting with program prodigal son Jadan Blue, who wanted back on the squad after leaving due to personal reasons, the new coach heard out the youngster, put down attainable standards for Blue to reach and then welcomed him back with open arms … and was rewarded with a brilliant season from the redshirt sophomore, who became the first Temple player to ever record 1,000 receiving yards campaign.
Carey and his staff also were willing to try things, like inserting backup quarterback Todd Centeio on purpose as a change of pace from Anthony Russo, having no hesitation with making Re’Mahn Davis, a true freshman, the team’s featured running back and, even, maintaining the single-digit jersey recognition for the toughest Owls.
Temple also handed Memphis, the Group of Five’s top squad this season, its lone regular-season loss.
Then again, Russo appeared to regress, significantly at times, from his solid sophomore season, the Owls were clearly outcoached in several games, and they were embarrassed in four of their five defeats.
With at least three defensive linemen, including American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche, and the team’s top four linebackers considered NFL prospects, it’s mind-boggling to think the Owls ranked 43rd in the country in points allowed per game and 47th in yards allowed per game, especially when they’re not playing a Big Ten or Southeastern conference schedule.
With any coaching change, it stands to reason that there may be a step taken back. It’s even acceptable.
But don’t kid yourself. That 8-5 posted in Geoff Collins’ last season at the helm was far different than the 8-5 posted in Carey’s first. One was signaling a rise; the other exactly the opposite.