Friday, November 27, 2009

Owl Golden is going nowhere and here's why ...

By Mike Gibson
After Temple's 35-17 loss to Ohio in what was the MAC East Championship game, I've reached one inescapable conclusion:
Al Golden is going nowhere.
Or make that Owl Golden.
Let's get this out of the way first: Owl Golden did a fantastic job as head coach at Temple in 2009, the best job since Bruce Arians went 6-5 against the No. 10-ranked schedule in the country back in 1986.
Let's have a little perspective, though. Arians did it against the 10th-best schedule. Golden did it against the 112th best schedule (out of 119).
Golden's work was much more impressive than Jerry Berndt's seven-win season in 1990, but slightly short of Arians' two six-win seasons against a couple of suicide schedules.
From a pure football coaching standpoint, to me, six wins against the 10th-best schedule in the country is a little more impressive than nine wins against a No. 112 schedule.
No doubt, though, Golden has proven he is the best man for the job.
He's had a lot more to do than being a full-time football coach. He's had to be a full-time babysitter, a full-time disciplinarian and a full-time public relations' man. That's just for starters. He's done much more than his job description for the university and the institution can't thank him or compensate him enough.
From academics to community involvement to character issues, he righted a ship that was listing badly and about to go down.
It's a Herculean effort even Arians could not have mustered.
But there is much more to be done and my hunch is that Golden will stay to do it.
He sweat a lot of blood and tears building this program and now that it's built and all he has to do is coach, does he want to wear all those hats and sweat all that blood again for four more years?
I think not.
Golden won't leave for another reclamation project and, other than Cincinnati or Notre Dame, every single offer he gets will involve years of building again.
Nothing Owl Golden has said has convinced me he'll be around for the 2010 season.
It's what he's done.
Or not done in this case.
All season long, I've gotten multiple reports from reliable sources both inside and outside the program that Chris Coyer was ... by far ... the best quarterback on team.
He was making the most plays in practice every day.
He was turning the most heads.
Yet he wasn't on the field.
Think about it.
I've said for 12 months between the end of last season and now, the only thing that separated Temple from a contender and a champion was the lack of a playmaking quarterback.
I urged the Owls to go get one, even going as far as pleading for Al to sign a big-time JUCO quarterback in the mold of Adam DiMichele.
That the Owls have won nine games without a playmaking quarterback is a tribute to Owl Golden and Matt Rhule.
They got this far on two "game managers" in Vaughn Charlton and Chester Stewart.
Neither one of them can be describe as a playmaker, someone who can win the game on his own, ala Adam DiMichele vs. Eastern Michigan last season.
If Owl Golden cared about himself more than he cared about the program, he would have burned the Chris Coyer redshirt at about the time Chester Stewart succeeded Vaughn Charlton as the Owls' starting quarterback.
What would he have cared if Temple only had three Coyer years left?
He sent a very loud message that he cared very much by protecting the redshirt.
We've all seen the chasm between Stewart and Charlton since.
It is large and it is stark.
That's about the difference between Coyer and Stewart.
You don't need me to tell you about it.
Coyer will win the starting quarterback's job in a three-way battle in spring ball.
Remember, if it happens, you read it here first.
In between now and then, Temple will make it to a bowl game.
It's a lock not because of what I write here but because of the NCAA rule that states you cannot take an eight-win team ahead of a nine-win team for an at-large bowl berth.
That's why the Owls will report to practice on Monday knowing they have another game left to play. They will complement perhaps the best running back in the nation next year, Bernard Pierce, with a playmaking quarterback in Chris Coyer.
With a solid defense in place back, that's an impossible formula to beat.
That's why Owl Golden will report to work the offseason on North Broad Street, knowing that the Owls will be better equipped to shock the world next year, not this one.
Then he can have his choice of moves, should he chose to go anywhere.