By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Unfortunately, it was inevitable.
It really was.
The moment Matt Rhule opted out of his program-building vocation with Temple University football weeks ago for the greener pastures provided by wide swaths of grass in central Texas and an association with a Power 5 school, the Owls’ hopes of registering a Cherry & White-record 11th win were dashed.
Didn’t matter that only a mediocre ACC squad stood as the obstacle in Tuesday’s Military Bowl.
Temple was cooked, lost, lacking the underrated soul and used-car salesmanship that had pumped life into anything with a grid connection to the North Broad campus like never before.
Yeah, it’s a way of life in college football these days. Success breads a bailout, and often a buyout, as the orchestrator cashes in for a better gig, at least theoretically.
But Rhule’s move was more devastating than most. There are few coaches who impact every aspect of a program the way he did. Frankly, he’ll never go down as one of the great game-day Xs and Os generals or possessing the “feel” to call just the right play at just the right time. But the guy had a magic touch with putting things in place.
With cultivating a winning atmosphere. With putting the program on the national map. With actually getting the Owls some attention in a pro sports-rabid city.
A team takes that kinda hit, all the gut-busting effort and rah-rah speeches in the world preparing for that shot at history, well, things ain’t gonna go too well usually … and they didn’t in this case.
If anything, new coach Geoff Collins was made aware of a glaring omission under Rhule. Wake Forest brought to light just how overmatched Temple was along the line of scrimmage in the Demon Deacons' 34-26 victory, particularly when the Owls had the ball.
That vaunted running attack, the one that had steamrolled eight straight opponents in yielding Temple an American Athletic Conference championship? It was nowhere to be found … unless you checked for burning embers in the dumpster postgame as the Owls’ net “gain” on 20 carries was minus-20 yards.
Sure, the line can thank senior quarterback Phillip Walker’s wayward wandering at times to make things look that bad statistically, but, c’mon, that performance was embarrassing.
Especially when you had two backs – Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas – just 82 yards each away from 1,000 for the season. Needless to say, neither had a grand time.
Nope. All Temple got in the last few weeks was Rhule’s grand exit.
Goodbye, national ranking. Good luck, Collins, with maintaining, never mind building on, what Rhule created.