Temple Owls: Is it Time for Temple to move on from Fran Dunphy?
The Temple Owls are coming off one the more disappointing seasons in program history. The team started off the season on a high note, defeating Clemson, Auburn, and Wisconsin in non-conference play. However, the team struggled mightily during conference play finishing the regular season with a 16-14 record. The Owls then proceeded to lose in the first round of the NIT to in-state rival Penn State. This has no doubt led many of Temple’s faithful to question if Fran Dunphy, one of the winningest coaches in the school’s history, is still the right man for the job.
Fran Dunphy took over the head coaching job at Temple back in 2006 replacing Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. Before taking over the Temple Owls, Dunphy was an established coach at Penn. Winning over 300 games along with 10 Ivy League titles. Regarded as “Mr. Big 5” Fran Dunphy is the winningest coach in Big 5 history with over 500 wins. The Big 5 is the collection of Philadelphia schools which includes Temple, Penn, Villanova, La Salle, and St. Joseph’s.
During his tenure at Temple, Fran has had quite a list of accomplishments. Along with a record of 247-152, Dunphy led the Owls to two Atlantic-10 regular-season titles, three Atlantic-10 conference tournament championships, and 1 American Athletic Conference regular-season title. He also won AAC coach of the year in 2015 and 2016. In his 12 years at the helm, he has led the school to 7 NCAA tournament appearances. However, the last few years haven’t been so kind to the Philadelphia basketball legend.
The Owls have failed to make the NCAA tournament the last 4 of 5 years. Which has garnered a few murmurs from the Temple faithful about a potential changing of the guard. Temple has had some of its most talented rosters these last few years and only have an appearance in the NIT semi-finals and a 1st round NCAA tournament loss to show for it.
There were some comparisons on twitter comparing Fran Dunphy to NFL coach Marvin Lewis due to the fact that both get to the playoffs (NCAA tournament) however they’re just about always one and done. Dunphy only has 2 tournament wins in his time with the Temple Owls. There is no denying that he is one of the more consistent coaches around and is respected for his ability to make in-game adjustments. However, those adjustments just haven’t seemed to be there the last few seasons. Blown leads, 2nd half collapses, and bad losses have plagued the Owls lately.
It also doesn’t help that Villanova’s recent success has all but pushed Temple into the background of Philadelphia basketball. Villanova isn’t even in Philadelphia, however, they are associated with Philly’s college team. On top of that Dunphy is losing the recruitment battle in his own city. There is a lot of talent coming out of all parts of Philadelphia and South Jersey. However, this talent doesn’t seem to be attracted to the Temple Owls. The players would rather go cross-country to Power 5 schools than stay home and play in the AAC. Penn State alone has 8 players from Philadelphia. With all the great talent that comes out of the city, it is hard to imagine how the 5th winningest program in NCAA history can’t recruit them.
The landscape of the AAC is changing in more ways than one. The conference, as a whole, has gotten much more competitive, especially with the inclusion of Wichita State from the Missouri Valley Conference. Along with the change in competition it’s also seeing changes with some of its head coaches. Memphis recently replaced Tubby Smith with Memphis basketball legend Penny Hardaway. Even though Smith had a plus .500 record in two seasons at the school. UConn also replaced Kevin Ollie as the head man after 6 seasons. He led UConn to a national championship back in 2014. It seems as if just winning in the regular season isn’t going to cut it in a league that is growing at an exurbanite rate. And just being one and done in the tournament may not be enough for Fran Dunphy to save his job in the long run.