Temple Football: A College Coach’s Ticket to a Power 5 Conference
Although they aren’t the most popular college team in Pennsylvania when it comes to football, the Temple Owls are currently experiencing their best period as a program. The university has had 4 coaches in the past decade which would lead one to think there is instability within the program. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth and in fact, the head coaching position has acted as a springboard for multiple coaches’ career advancement.
Al Golden/Steve Addazio
Al Golden became the Temple head coach in December of 2005. Golden and the Owls went 10-26 in his first 3 seasons. However, in 2009 the Owls finished the season with a 9-3 record which was their first winning season since 1990. It was also the first time they had been to a Bowl game since the 1979 season. Temple would lose to the UCLA Bruins in the EagleBank Bowl. In 2010 Golden would coach his final season at Temple before taking the head coaching job at the University of Miami. A school in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Golden experienced fairly good success at Miami although his first two years were marred by the ongoing booster scandal investigations centered-around Nevin Shapiro. In 5 seasons at Miami Golden had a 32-25 record.
Steve Addazio took over the head coaching duties after Al Golden in December of 2010. Addazio had previously been an assistant coach under Urban Meyer at the University of Florida. In his first season at Temple, Addazio coached the Owls to a 9-4 record and a second-place finish in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The Owls, who were also the 3rd ranked scoring defense in all of college football that season went on to win the New Mexico Bowl that season defeating Wyoming. The second season wasn’t as kind as the first one. The Owls struggled through a 4-7 season. Addazio then accepted the head coaching position at Boston College, another ACC school. So far Addazio has a record of 38-38 at Boston College, with a Bowl record of 1-3.
After the Addazio era, the Owls brought in Matt Rhule to be the new coach in 2013. Rhule had previously coached at Temple as a defensive line coach 2006. He then moved up to offensive coordinator in 2008 and after a few years joined the New York Giants. The first year for Rhule as head coach of Temple was a rough one. He had inherited Addazio’s recruits and the team went 2-10 on the year. After that Temple improved just about every year. The next season the team went 6-6 and was bowl eligible. His third season as coach was one for the history books and will likely go down as one of the best seasons in program history.
Rhule and the Owls went 10-2 including an upset over Penn State, a team they had not beaten in 74 years. College Gameday also came to Philadelphia that season for the Owls primetime game against Notre Dame. The Owls won their division that year but lost to Houston in the Conference Championship game. However, the next season Rhule and the Owls finally got over the hump. And after a 9-3 year, Temple defeated Navy in the Conference Championship game. Rhule’s success at turning around the program garnered a lot of attention around the country.
So it was no surprise that Rhule accepted a head coaching position with Big XII Baylor University. Rhule inherited a tough situation at Baylor which was going through a sexual assault scandal as well as multiple Title IX lawsuits. Rhule went 1-11 in his first season but had a nice turnaround this past year going 6-6. The team will play in the Texas Bowl this year.
Now the latest coach to have gone on to bigger and better things after coaching the Owls is Geoff Collins. The former University of Florida defensive coordinator came to Temple and immediately brought about a culture which had a slogan: “Mayhem is Coming”. His demeanor and attitude came off as a very player friendly coach. He instituted calling 3rd down the “Money Down”. The student section even had dollar bills with Collins’ face on it which they threw in the air whenever the team made a 3rd down stop. The team did struggle throughout Collins’ first season but won 3 of their last 4 games to become bowl eligible. The team then went on to play in the Gasparilla Bowl where they defeated FIU. The program’s first bowl win since 2011.
This past season started off very poorly for the Owls. They lost their first 2 games of the season at home including a loss in the season opener to FCS Villanova. Collins would rally his team and the team would go 8-2 over their next 10 games. The team had big wins over Maryland, a ranked Cincinnati team, as well as beating Houston on the road. The Owls also pushed UCF to the brink in a shootout in Florida.
Collins and the Owls finished the season 8-4 and will play in the Independence Bowl. However, Collins will not be coaching the team as he just recently accepted the head coaching position at Georgia Tech who is in the ACC. This now makes 2 times in 3 bowl appearances where the head coach won’t coach the team. This also means two former Temple head coaches will now be coaching in the ACC.
It is worth noting that more coaches have gone on to power 5 schools from Temple than any other school in the conference over the past few years. This could also lead to another discussion about the American Athletic Conference as a whole. From Matt Rhule to Willie Taggart to Scott Frost, the league’s success is being noticed by the power 5 schools. And if the coaches are getting this kind of respect, it’s only a matter of time before the teams do.