Monday, January 31, 2011

Signing Day: One of the best in sports

WR Malcolm Eugene (8) is signed and enrolled at Temple now.

Phil Knight, the Nike CEO, will tell you National Football Signing Day (that's tomorrow) is his favorite sports day of the year.
He's a big Oregon football fan.
Knight will be glued to his television tomorrow for all-day coverage on ESPNU (9 a.m.-7 p.m) of signing day.
I'll probably pass on the coverage (unless it's on in my gym), but it's one of my favorite sports days, too, right there with opening day of baseball and the first Owl kickoff of the year and, yes, the first Thursday of the NCAA basketball tournament.
(I hear that's Rick Neuheisel's favorite day.)
Signing Day means more to me than Super Bowl Sunday because I have no rooting interest in either team on that day, but signing day I have rooting interest in just one team.
Signing Day gets me pretty pumped up because I get to see a good portion of the football talent coming to Temple for the first time.

ESPNU's coverage of signing day starts at 9 a.m.
I'll be the first to tell you I'm not a recruiting expert.
Having covered high school football for 35 years (since I was a 17-year-old kid who found out I couldn't play as well as I wanted to), I know one thing for sure.
I know the kind of player I like.
I like a kid who overachieves. (Give me a 6-1, 200-pound Dick Beck at center, who became captain of a 7-4 Temple team and pancaked everyone in sight over a 6-3, 240-pound guy who only plays when he feels like it.)
I like a kid who is tough.
I like a kid who makes plays. (I'm thinking Adam DiMichele with 38 seconds left in the Buffalo game, who scrambled and bought just enough time to hit Bruce Francis for what should have been the game-winning score.)
I like a kid who is a leader. (I'm thinking center Donny Klein in the 2002 Rutgers game who threw his helmet down and dropped 47 f-bombs in a halftime speech when down, 17-3, saying, "I never f-ing lost to f-ing Rutgers in my f-ing life and I'm not about to start f-ing now ..." All Klein did was clear the way for Tanardo Sharps to gain 215 yards on 43 carries in the mud in a 20-17 win.)
I like a kid who is a gamer.
I'm a hard marker.
There are very few Temple players who have all of those qualities.
In short, I like a kid like Henry Hynoski from the 70s, Dick Beck, Matty Baker and Tim Riordan from (mostly) the 80s, Tanardo Sharps, Donny Klein, Alex Derenthal, Adrian Robinson, and Adam DiMichele from the 00s.
There are more, certainly, that fit the mold and some of them will be joining the Temple Football Family today and tomorrow.
If you get enough of those kids, you can win.
Indications are that Steve Addazio grabbed a few of those kids with this class. This won't be the class we judge Addazio on because in college football today you need more than a month to get organized. There are a couple of names of kids who haven't yet committed, but whose names I'd really like to see on the dotted line tomorrow: Desmond Blue (a safety) and Jared Williams (a running back), both from Florida. Both would fill immediate needs at Temple. The other high school guys might be candidates for redshirts.
What he needs to find, right now, is some gamers and some overachievers because the one thing about this class is that there aren't a whole lot of five-star recruits knocking down Temple's door.
What we don't know, right now, is if he's got enough of those kids.
I like what I see in the film on a lot of these kids, especially quarterbacks Clinton Grainger and Jalen Fitzpatrick, but film can be deceiving.
What is it my friend, Sal, said a couple of years ago at one of Al Golden's signing parties?
"On signing day film, they all look like they should have gone to USC," Sal said.
He's right.
It's a day to get pumped up, but we will have to wait some time down the road to see if they are the kind of players you and I like.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Addazio trying to land last-minute recruits

Bruce Arians got a jem in his first recruiting class at TU.

When it comes to Temple football recruiting, I'm a lot like the guy who reserves the seat one  row behind the middle exit for the plane trip and trusts that I have a good pilot.
I kind of know where the Owls are going, but I trust the guy in charge to take us there safely.
Bruce Arians' First Recruiting Class included:
Paul Palmer, RB, Potomac (Md.)
Sheldon Morris, RB, Oxon Hills (Md.)
Steve Domonoski, LB, Jerwyn (Pa.).
Mike Swanson, DL, Mount Vernon (N.Y.)
Carl Holmes, OL, Philadelphia LaSalle
Mark Arcidiacono, DL, Philadelphia Father Judge
John Smith, RB, Philadelphia Penn Charter
Don Brown, DB, Pennsbury
Rodney Walker, DT, Philadelphia Cardinal Dougherty
James Thompson, QB, Tallahassee (Fla.) Leon High
For the past five years, all I did was look forward to the trip because Temple had the "Sully Sullenberger" of recruiting pilots in the meticulously organized, persistent and clean-cut Al Golden.
I (mostly) trusted Al because recruiting (except maybe for quarterbacks) was his strong point, he was organized and a good-looking, personable, guy who mothers (they are key in recruiting) welcomed into their homes.
If Al Golden was Sully Sullenberger, then Steve Addazio is Chuck Yeager.
He's not as good-looking (that doesn't mean anything to me, but it might to the Moms out there), but he's just as personable and he was named three-time national pilot, err, recruiter, of the year. So I should have reason to be confident.
Still, I must admit that it's less than a week to go before signing day and the turbulence on this flight appears rockier than usual.
The first recruit Addazio supposedly "locked down" was a Golden recruit, Cedric "The Entertainer" Walker who de-committed and chose Florida International instead.
Another DE recruit is said to be leaning that away.
For the last three years, Temple was routinely winnning the recruiting battles against the Pitts, Rutgers, BC's and Marylands.
I must admit losing two guys to FIU isn't sitting too well.
Maybe Addazio will surprise me and come up with a gem or two.
Geez, I hope so.
Harrisburg quarterback Jalen Fitzpatrick is in this weekend. Daz is also said to be recruiting Bradenton Southeast's Jared Williams, a blue-chip running back with Bernard Pierce size, speed and vision. I would be thrilled to get one or both.
Daz is also working hard to keep the early Golden commits and I hope he does that. I'm thrilled that Camden Catholic playmaking wide receiver Jerry Watters is finally coming to campus as a walk-on.
People say not to expect much from Addazio because he's been here only a month,  but Bruce Arians came up with a solid class in less than a month from the time he was hired away from Alabama in 1983. In Arians' first class was a fullback from Norcross (Ga.), Shelly Poole; an all-state lineman from Mount Vernon (N.Y.) in Mike Swanson; Carl Holmes, a 6-7, 300-pound offensive tackle from LaSalle; Sheldon Morris, a 6-foot, 198-pound back from Oxon Hills, Md., who led was county player of the year and led his team to the state title; Steve Domonoski, a linebacker from Jerwyn, Pa. and, oh yeah, a 5-10, 180-pound running back from Winston Churchill High in Potomac, Md., named Paul Palmer where the bio simply said "rushed for almost 2,000 yards his senior year."
What has been my recruiting mantra on this blog for years?
"The best indicator of future success is past success."
Paul Palmer is the embodiment of that statement. So is current Owen J. Roberts' back Ryan Brumfield, who is an inch taller and five pounds heavier.
If Golden had one Achilles' Heel in recruiting, it was trying to develop running backs and quarterbacks rather than recruit finished products at both positions. The one solid QB he had, Adam DiMichele, was a first-team all-state player and one of the greatest touchdown-producers in WPIAL history.
Bernard Pierce was a great running back recruit, a 2,000-yard back and state champion sprinter at Glen Mills, but where were the 2,000-yard backs and sprinters to back Pierce up?
You are not going to get it done with a 5-5, 150-pound backup.
Arians understood that so, in his first class, he recruited both Sheldon Morris and Paul Palmer.
A few years later, Temple's sports information department put out a comic book promoting Palmer for Heisman.
He finished second.
Arians' first recruiting class was the best of the first-year Temple coaches, but others have found gems, too. Jerry Berndt, who couldn't recruit a lick, got OT Tre Johnson in his first class. Ron Dickerson, who could recruit, got Easton's Juan Gaddy in his first class, along with WR Troy Kersey, QB Henry Burris and LB Al Singleton.
Dickerson, Arians and Berndt were all hired in late Dec., about the same time Daz was, so they had the same handicaps he's facing now.
If Daz can bring me a Paul Palmer (cough, cough, Ryan Brumfield or Jared Williams) in this class, I will do cartwheels.
For now, though, I'm just going to try to enjoy my first time flying with Captain Addazio.
They tell me he's a pretty good pilot.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Owl FB could use a $3 million contribution

The Robert G. Burton Practice Bubble at Temple University.

I've always wondered why Temple football never had a Robert G. Burton.
You know, the guy who contributed $3 million to UConn football and then asked for his money back when the Huskies did not hire Steve Addazio away from Temple.
Oh, sure there have been great benefactors in the past like Dr. Pete Chodoff who spearheaded the Edberg-Olson Complex and the $500,000 practice field.
Even Bill Cosby reportedly "bought out" Jerry Berndt's contract so the uni could hire Ron Dickerson. (That's like chump change to Cos because Fortune Magazine reported he has $368 million in his bank account. He could donate $61 mil for a new Temple football stadium and still have $307 million left over and I didn't even major in math at Temple.)
Yet there has been no single $3 million contribution to Temple football in my memory.
The Burton Football Complex at UConn
Not even from Cos.
Lord knows no one needs the money more than Temple football, yet Dennis Alter gave his $15 million for the new Fox Business School. A noble cause, yet the Temple football team still has to bus down to the Eagles' practice facility on bad weather days because they have no bubble.
If there was no new Alter School of Business, kids could still walk to school in the old building.
Yet it's the football team that has to board the bus for that dangerous four-mile ride down to NovaCare (not to mention the driving conditions, either).
Heck, I would be a Robert G. Burton for Temple football. The only thing that's keeping me from giving is that I have no money. I would not even demand that Steve Addazio recruit Ryan Brumfield or that Temple fire Steve Addazio and replace him with Bruce Arians after the Super Bowl.
I would just give unconditionally.
I have an idea, Mr. Burton. Turn some negative publicity you've been receiving in New England to some positive press down here.
You have a direct interest in Steve Addazio becoming a big-time success at Temple so you can prove to those UConn bozos that you were right and they were wrong.
So, when UConn gives you the $3 million back, you should forward that check to Temple University for the construction of the Robert G. Burton Practice Bubble.
Think of it as the best investment you ever will make in yourself.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Heater gives Owl fans the warm and fuzzies

Chuck Heater
Photo courtesy Univ. of Florida

Over the last four days, I expressed a couple of concerns about Steve Addazio's new staff.

One is hiring a grad assistant to coach the offensive line. The other is the possibility of rehiring Matt Rhule has offensive coordinator.

Justin Frye being hired as the new OL coach is bit concerning (I would have liked a proven line coach) and the possibility of Rhule being rehired gives me a major case Agata so I'm going to avoid that today.

Today is for the warm and fuzzies, which is about as good a day as any if you look at the temperature on the right side of this page. It was damn near zero yesterday and is trending upward today.

No name better than to supply the warmth than The (Chuck) Heater, Temple's new defensive coordinator, who is now officially listed in the Temple email directory.

Heater followed Urban Meyer to almost every stop along the Meyer road and Meyer gave him the ultimate compliment when he called Heater "Mother Teresa."

Mother Teresa as in Miracle Worker.

At age 57, (Heater has) served on coaching staffs that have won two SEC titles and two national titles at UF, a national title at Notre Dame, an undefeated season at Utah, a Rose Bowl and Pac 10 title at Washington, a Big Ten title at Ohio State, and an 11-1 record at Colorado.

He's a winner.

As one Georgia fan stated on his blog:

"As a recruiting coordinator for the Gators under Meyer, they built a recruiting machine with few peers. Also under Meyer and Heater, the Gators produced defensive back fields with devastating speed and toughness with kids who were coached well enough to begin contributing their freshmen year. He's a tough as nails coach with high expectations for his kids."

He will have those same high expectations at Temple. I smell shutout vs. Villanova (at least I hope so), a terrific kick-start to a wonderful season. I don't see being Temple DC as a step down for Heater because it will be his first sole DC gig (he shared the DC title with Teryl Austin last year at UF) and it will be at a school that has 16 returning starters from teams that went 9-3 and 8-4. If he creates a miracle at Temple, can 11-1 or 12-0 be out of the question?

I don't think so.

What would make the nation stand up and take notice of Heater, 11-1 at Colorado or 11-1 at Temple? There's plenty of kindling material here to light Heater's fire.

That gives me the warm and fuzzies today, on Jan. 25th, when warm and fuzzies are hard to come by.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Addazio's staff: Heater, McGowan, Fyre, Albert

"I've been telling the coaches to give you the rock and they look as smart as shit when they do," New England Patriots' lineman Steve Manieri seems to be telling The Franchise.
Photo by Ryan Porter
This much I do know.
Steve Addazio's football staff is beginning to come together.
Justin Frye (offensive line coach), Chuck Heater (defensive coordinator), Sean McGowan (defensive line) and, now, Ben Albert as linebackers' coach.
I've heard very good things about Heater, McGowan and Albert, not so good things about Frye (and I've got to wonder why a grad assistant would ever be promoted to line coach).
Of course, Marshall's Frank Piraino was named strength coach early but, while important, that's not an on-the-field job.

Ben Albert is Temple's new LB coach.
That gives me a sinking feeling that Matt Rhule will be named offensive coordinator soon.
Please God (and Steve Addazio), no.
Rhule and tight ends' coach Ed Foley have been seen around the E-O as recently as yesterday.
If that's true, I have reason to believe that Addazio has plans to keep both.
Logically, Foley could be slotted back into both of his old jobs _ as recruiting coordinator and tight ends' coach. Ed is a very personable and capable guy who did both jobs exceedingly well under Al Golden.
Matt is also a personable guy who was Golden's best linebackers' coach ever. Since the linebacker's job is now spoken for, I can't see a spot open for Rhule other than his old job.
He was also the worst Temple offensive coordinator I have ever seen and it's not even close.
(That's a strong statement considering I've seen some pretty bad offensive football over the last 30 years.)
The offense was a clusterfuck (excuse my language) from the first play of the Villanova game until the last play of the Miami game
Rhule's supporters (and there are one or two) keep telling me that it was all Al Golden's fault, the offense's lack of execution.
I'm buying a little of it, but not all of it.
The offense was a clusterfuck (excuse my language) from the first play of the Villanova game until the last play of the Miami game.
It never had to be that way.
We're talking about a team with offensive talent out the wahzoo, a 318-pound (average) offensive line, great receivers like Michael Campbell, Rod Streater, Evan Rodriguez and (if they let them play) Delano Green and Joey Jones, an NFL first-round pick in Bernard Pierce and an NFL third-down back in Matt Brown and a serviceable quarterback in Mike Gerardi.
Rhule never grasped the concept that Brown should have been a third-down back here, too. He never grasped the concept of establishing the run behind a massive offensive line and a great back and then using play-action to keep defenses on their heels.
Brown should have never been on the field when Bernard Pierce was healthy. Rotating those two in was a complete joke. It's like the Chicago Bears rotating Gale Sayers in on every other play with Rocky Bleier. It's like the Cleveland Browns taking Jim Brown out every other play for Leroy Kelly. It's like Bruce Arians taking out Paul Palmer on every other series for Shelley Poole.
It makes as much sense as the Eagles alternating between Michael Vick and Mike Kafka on every other play. (OK, I'm using the literary device called license and exaggerating for effect on that one, but you get the point.)
Some people tell me it was because Brown was a workout freak and that Pierce fell somewhat short in that department. Pierce hit the weight room in the off-season, too, and was praised by Golden for it. You don't need to bench press 375 to carry a 15-ounce ball. "We gave him the ball 43 times because, you know, he can handle it and it ain't that heavy," was Arians' old quote about Palmer. I don't think Paul ever hit the weight room like Matty did so, you know, it just is not that important (or important enough to lose the starting job).
Somewhere talent has to be factored into the equation.
It was either Rhule or Golden who never grasped the concept, but Golden's not here anymore and I don't want to find out it was Rhule all along
If Temple had given the rock early and often to Pierce, it would have opened the offense up so much for play-action. Owl foes would have been so concerned about stopping Pierce that even the simpliest play fake to Pierce would have been an easy six every time. Temple receivers would have been roaming so free through MAC secondaries, Gerardi's toughest decision would have been which one to pick out.
(And whose fault was it that it took half the season to find out Chester Stewart couldn't play quarterback worth a lick?)

Maybe Pierce would have still been hurt but, to me, he's the kind of back who is more likely to get hurt being jerked around like he was than by staying in there and developing a rhythm.
With that kind of game plan against, say, Villanova, the final score might have been 40-14 instead of 31-24. Might have? Probably would have.
It was either Rhule or Golden who never grasped the concept, but Golden's not here anymore and I don't want to find out it was Rhule all along.
I want no parts of Matt Rhule as offensive coordinator.
I'm sure 99 percent of my fellow Owl fans agree.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The OC: Temple's next biggest show

Generally speaking, the most popular guy, to fans, on a football team is the backup quarterback.
The most unpopular guy, to fans, is the offensive coordinator.
The offensive coordinator is like an umpire. If he's good, you don't know he's out there.
Still, even with that, I don't get all the vitriol directed at Steve Addazio when he had that job for half of his six years at Florida.

Give me an older guy type, like Ralph Friegden, as our next OC
 In all my years of following football, I have never heard of an offensive coordinator more disliked by fans that Steve Addazio.
I still don't get it.
Didn't Urban Meyer hire Addazio?
Didn't Urban Meyer take part in the offensive game plan?
Didn't Urban Meyer show full support for the way Addazio was doing things?
Yes, yes and yes.
Did Urban Meyer turn his back and look into the stands when Florida was on offense?
Yet Urban Meyer must have built up so much street cred that it was Addazio's fault, not his.
As a Temple fan, I can see where Florida fans were coming from, though.
We all blamed Matt Rhule's for Temple's underachieving offense this year, despite top-notch personnel.
Then someone said something insightful.
Isn't this really Al Golden's fault?
Doesn't Al Golden sign off on the offensive game plan?
So, by season's end, most Temple fans came to that way of thinking.
Golden was the program's CEO and, ultimately, he was responsible for an offense that failed to utilize more sophisticated weapons (Bernard Pierce, Matty Brown, Michael Campbell, Evan Rodriguez, Rod Streater, Delano Green, Joey Jones, etc.) than the Pentagon had in its arsenal.
That's why this next big hire, is the most important one.
Give me an older guy, a Ralph Friegden or a George DeLeone type who Addazio respects, over a younger guy that Addazio will want to mold. Now I don't know that Addazio can sweet talk either one into coming to Philadelphia. I've heard rumblings that DeLeone is bound for UConnn and Friegden could be bound for Virginia Tech. However, Philadelphia is a lot closer to Friegden's Maryland home than Blacksburg is so that could be a consideration for a 63-year-old man.
If not either, I'll take someone with a simliar long and proven record of turning scoreboards into adding machines.
That way, Addazio can hand over the keys to the tanks and artillery to someone who knows how to use them and he can concentrate on being a good CEO.
I want no parts of Matt Rhule in his old job, though.
DeLeone was so good when he was OC at Temple (also under Golden) I didn't know he was out there. I can't say the same for Matt Rhule, even though I blamed Golden for his shortcomings.
DeLeone or Friegden would not be the most popular Owls, but they would do their jobs with the kind of quiet efficiency that would make you think they were not even there.
That's the OC show I like the most.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Coach Daz: Meet Ryan Brumfield

Ryan Brumfield would be a great get for coach Daz.
When I went to Temple too many years ago to count, coach Wayne Hardin feasted on foes by getting under-recruited running backs, mostly from the Philadelphia area, who had a chip on their shoulders.
They were really too many to mention here, but I'll try:
"You hate to say the word 'unstoppable,' but that's what Ryan is. He likes the challenges. The more he gets challenged, the better he plays. But what you like most about Ryan is that he's a great kid. Here's a kid that has every right to have an ego, and he doesn't. He gets along with everyone. It's why his teammates don't only want to play with him — they want to play for him."
_ Tom Barr, head coach, Owen J. Roberts

Kevin Duckett (Northeast), Sherman Myers (Coatesville), Anthony Anderson, Jim Brown (Hardin: "I like that name"), Harold Harmon, Henry Hynoski (Mount Carmel), Zach Dixon, Mark Bright (William Tennent), etc., etc., etc.
It's funny. The schools who didn't want those guys could not stop those guys.
Myers scored five touchdowns in a 49-17 win over a Syracuse bowl-bound team (that included future NFLers Joe Morris and Art Monk).
Bright won the MVP in the Garden State bowl against a very good Cal team.
Anderson had a good career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dixon was a 1,000-yard rusher at Temple (and Raheem Brock's biological father).

All showed flashes of greatness at Temple.
Chip, meet shoulder.
Hardin had great running backs and great quarterbacks.
That's not the whole key to winning, but it's a good place to start.
Temple's got a great running back now in Bernard Pierce.
When he's on the field, he's the best Temple running back I've ever seen and that includes Paul Palmer, the 1986 Heisman Trophy runnerup (sorry, Boo-Boo).
When he's on the field, Temple can beat anybody. (I'm thinking Navy last year and Uconn this year.)
When he's NOT on the field, there aren't many teams Temple can beat (I'm thinking UCLA last year, Penn State, Ohio and Miami this year). I have no doubt, none, that Temple would have registered a damn historic win in State College on Sept. 25 had Pierce not snapped his ankle. Chester Stewart wouldn't have thrown those three God-awful picks if Pierce was in the game.
So Pierce hasn't been on the field enough for my taste and most of it has been bad luck, not Pierce's fault.
If I had my druthers, he's be on the field for every offensive snap in 2011. But I don't want to go through another year when I see him limp off the field too many times.
That's why Temple needs another Bernard Pierce.
I found him.
His name is Ryan Brumfield.
I've covered high school football in Southeastern Pennsylvania for 30 years and saw maybe five dominating running backs on the same level as Brumfield. Kevin Jones (Cardinal O'Hara, Virginia Tech, Detroit Lions) was one. Bill Foley (Father Judge, Southern Mississippi), Barry Compton (Central Bucks West, Pitt) and Pierce (Glen Mills, Temple) all put up staggering numbers.
Our current backup, while good, is 5-5, 150. He wore down last year. Even Stevie Wonder could see that
They were all special in their own way.
Trust me. Brumfield belongs with them and he might be the very best (and I'm partial to old-school guys).
Brumfield is the second all-time leading running back in the history of Pennsylvania. Defenses geared to stop him and they could not.
Yet he's seriously under-recruited, much like Hardin's stars were.
His only scholarship offer, so far, is Buffalo.
He is slightly smaller than Pierce (5-10 vs. 6-foot) and lighter (180 vs. 218) but he's got the same speed (4.4-40), vision and power. He has the talent to make us forget about Pierce (ouch, it hurt typing that because I'm the biggest Pierce fan there is) but AT THE VERY MINIMUM he provides an insurance policy for Pierce we don't currently have. Most of all, he is a character kid, a wonderful person and teammate.
Our current backup, while good, is 5-5, 150. He wore down last year. Even Stevie Wonder could see that.
This kid, Brumfield, does not wear down.
Unless we sign Bradenton Southeast's Jared Williams, I don't know if there is a guy out there who is that insurance policy.
Brumfield would be provide at least that.
Coach Daz, he's worth a look and a long, hard one at that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Addazio making Desmond Blue see Cherry

Bradenton Southeast's Desmond Blue (10) dislodges ball from Manatee's Quinton Bundrage (11).
"They want me to play safety up there, and that is fine with me."
_Desmond Blue
Ask any college football expert and they will tell you that the state of Florida is a gold mine.
Florida produces more Division I talent than the next two states (Texas and California) combined.
Must be all the fresh orange juice.
That's why it's important for almost any school to not only have a presence there but someone who is expert in the mining process.
Temple has that in Steve Addazio. You don't get named national recruiter of the year twice without a solid knowledge of the roads that lead to the gold.
Now Addazio appears to be building a pipeline from Florida to Philadelphia.
It's only a 22-hour train ride away, two hours by air.
It looks like the first passenger to punch his ticket on Addazio's underground railroad could be Desmond Blue.
Addazio, due to NCAA rules, can't talk about it but Desmond Blue can and he's already seeing Cherry. He looks about to become part of Temple's football family. (Addazio also locked up Gulliver Prep's Cedric Walker, but Walker was an Al Golden recruit who was waiting to commit.)
One of the interesting items in that story was that Addazio is already going up against Al Golden for two recruits, Quinton and Chris Pompey.
For his part, Blue appears talented enough to provide immediate help in a secondary that could be hurt by the graduation of senior Jacquain Jarrett.
With all the talent Temple has returning on both sides of the ball, there are only three major holes to fill as I see them: 1) Backup running back to Bernard Pierce (with Pierce ability); 2) Strong safety and 3) Impact defensive tackle to replace Mo Wilkerson.
Of course, I could always use a big-time JUCO All-American quarterback with this kind of talent but I think, with this past year of seasoning under their belts, both Chris Coyer and Mike Gerardi could be championship-level MAC quarterbacks and I don't think that need is as pressing as it was in past years.
Plus, the JUCO ranks don't produce a Cam Newton or a Walter Washington every year.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Addaziogate: Saying nothing says a lot

Now that Temple University, though a football spokeswoman, says it is not going to comment on a published report in the Hartford Courant that Steve Addazio's "representative" contacted UConn regarding its football opening, that leaves a lot of room for speculation.
Too much room.
My feeling, as stated earlier, was that Addazio had to come out and say the published report was a lie or he was tacitly saying it was the truth.
There's no wiggle room.
Making a public statement that the Hartford Courant was full of hogwash would have ended the matter once and for all.
Now it lingers and will linger and saying nothing is the worst thing Addazio, Bill Bradshaw and Temple University could have ever done.
Before Temple came out and said it was saying nothing, something had to be said privately between AD Bill Bradshaw and Addazio.
Since they aren't saying what, we can only guess as to what went down:

BB: Now, Steve, I called you into this meeting today for a reason.
SA: Anything for you Bill. I told you the day I signed here was that we are joined at the hip.
BB: Yeah, about that.. ..
SA: I couldn't be with a better man, Bill.
BB: Just wanted to ask you about that report in the Hartford Courant that your representative contacted UConn ....
SA: Yeah, I was meaning to tell you about that. Kind of slipped my mind.
BB: There's no truth to it, right?
SA: Bill, you are a good man so I'm going to come clean with you. Yeah, I did. I didn't know UConn was going to open up and, yeah, I thought I could maybe slip in the backdoor. It's my home state and all. Plus, the walk to 11th and Diamond every day looks pretty dangerous.
BB: But what about all that "Destination Temple" stuff you said two weeks ago?
SA: Yeah, pretty good speech, huh? Think I could use it when I get the job up there. I could just change "Destination Temple" to "Destination UConn."
BB: I heard Mark Whipple was going to get the job, though.
SA: Really? Damn, I must have been too late. I guess I'm stuck, I mean, committed, here.
BB: We should really say something, make a statement that you are committed to Temple and that you never applied for the UConn job.
SA: Now, Bill, why would I do that? You heard me talk about integrity a couple of weeks ago, didn't you? You wouldn't ask me to lie, would you?
BB: Yeah, I forgot about the integrity part.
SA: Bill, I got an idea. What if we just said nothing?
BB: You mean, bury our heads in the sand?
SA: Yeah, right, say nothing, bury our heads in the sand and hope this all blows over.
BB: I guess you are right, Steve.
SA: See, Bill, I told you we think alike. We're joined at the hip, buddy.
BB: I'll tell the press we're saying nothing then.
SA: That'a boy, Bill. Anything else?
BB: I guess not.

The Elephant in the Room: Part II

Steve Addazio needs to make a  strong statement  today or leave tomorrow.
Some time ago, I wrote a story about Al Golden's first dalliances for a new job.
It wasn't five minutes after he was hired, but too soon for my taste.
I called the post: The Elephant in the Room because a lot of Temple people just didn't want to talk about it.
Call this one The Elephant in the Room Part II.
A report out of the Hartford Courant newspaper, not some anonymous blogger, links current Temple head coach Steve Addazio's "representative" contacting the UConn search committee about the current football opening there.
Because this report was in an actual newspaper last night and supposedly confirmed today, I think it might have some legs.
I'm willing to give Addazio the benefit of the doubt, though.
For now and not for long.
If I was UConn, I'd avoid Steve Addazio like the plague. The PR hit the school would take for "stealing" a coach just hired by another school is just not worth it
I just can't fathom a guy who got up on the podium two weeks ago telling people how excited he was to be here could do such an about-face because another job comes open, even a job in his home state.
I can't picture how the guy who kept mentioning "Destination Temple" can change that speech to "Destination UConn" so quickly.
If I was UConn, I'd avoid Steve Addazio like the plague. The PR hit the school would take for "stealing" a coach just hired by another school is just not worth it. Plus, Addazio is no more the slam dunk hiring for UConn that he would be here. So far, his OL hiring is a grad assistant and his strength coach is a guy from Marshall, who supposedly made no real positive impact at Marshall. Also, Florida co-DC Chuck Heater, who was rumored to be coming here with Daz, is nowhere in sight nor are any big-time recruits from Florida (the state, not the school) that Daz might have been connected to prior to his hiring.
Something smells like dead fish out there.
Would a guy leave a job he was hired two weeks ago for a similar job 200 miles away?
I don't know.
Stranger things have happened, though.
This is one elephant that can't be ignored.
This is one time Temple people can't stick their heads in the sand and hope the Elephant finds its way out of the room on its own. This is too vital a time for recruiting both coaches and players. This doesn't need to float out there in cyberspace any more than the 18 hours it already has been out there.
If Bill Bradshaw doesn't get to the bottom of this today, then Ann Weaver Hart or Lew Katz need to get Addazio to address this right now.
If Steve Addazio doesn't come out and say this report is totally false and that he is totally 100 percent committed to Temple University, then he should be fired and Temple should feel free to pursue Bruce Arians (the best choice, IMHO) or Tom Bradley, outcome of the UConn search notwithstanding. Even if UConn hires, say, Mark Whipple later this week, this story will be out there and in the folder of every coach who recruits against us this year and next to question Addazio's commitment here. Addazio might not think he needs to reaffirm it, but he does. That's the way of life in the real world.
There's an Elephant in the Room today and the more people ignore it, the more damage it is likely to do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Daz sightings: Florida, Texas and North Philly

Steve Addazio would love to see Quenton Bundrage in a Temple uniform.

You could make one of those "Where's Waldo" maps, substitute Steve Addazio for Waldo and put push pins all over the place.
Today's confirmed sighting, via twitter, for coach Daz is Dallas, where the coaches convention is.
Makes sense in that is where most of the nation's coaches are and Daz needs some coaches, specifically coordinators.
Earlier this week, Daz was in Florida to watch new Temple commit Cedric Walker earn the MVP in the Dade/Broward County All-Star Football game.
That's important because old Temple coach Al Golden was also at the game.
Golden initially recruited Walker for Temple and Daz was in Florida to seal the deal.
After the game, Daz used his Florida connections to pursue Manatee (Fla.) WR Quenton Bundrage (not Brundage), who has an Iowa State visit coming up. If Daz lands Bundrage, that will be the first time a sole Daz target has made its way to Temple.
Also, Daz was in North Philadelphia earlier this week to make a couple of hires, including OL coach Justin Frye. Now if you do a google search on Justin Frye you will find a guy who made a sex tape with Kendra Baskett (before she was Kendra Baskett). That's NOT our Justin Frye, who has an, err, fuller face and wider frame.
Temple's coordinator search took a big hit when Chuck Heater decided to wait on Michigan and UCLA and the Miami Dolphins failed in their pursuit of Jim Harbaugh. If the Dolphins landed Harbaugh, that meant longtime Daz friend and current Dolphin TE coach George DeLeone would be free to take the OC job at Temple.
Now he's pretty secure on South Beach for another 12 months.
Hmm. South Beach or North Philly?
That's a tough one.
I'll have to get back to you on that.
If K.C. Keeler goes to UConn, as rumored, then Nick Rapone is out for a similar DC job at Temple. Believe me, Nick Rapone would have been a great DC at Temple as he was under Bruce Arians. His daughter currently is a student at Temple.
It's all a cluster bleep as far as coordinators right now.
Maybe Daz is setting up one of those tables with a "Help Wanted" sign in Dallas.
Don't laugh.
That's how Vince Hoch was hired by Wayne Hardin.
Hoch walked up to Hardin at a convention, introduced himself, took out a napkin and started drawing defensive schemes and formations and Hardin hired him on the spot. The two developed instant chemistry.
Hoch later became the greatest defensive coordinator in Temple history.
Back to recruiting, though.
Other recruiting targets for Daz, reportedly, include a first-team all-state linebacker from Roman Catholic (about a mile from Temple's main campus) and a running back from Texas named Dickerson, who is a JUCO and would provide immediate front-line insurance should Bernard Pierce go down next year.
I like running backs from Texas named Dickerson.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Gator With the Heater

The real Geator with the Heater, a TU football fan?

After Al Gore invented the internet (tongue firmly implanted in cheek here), newspapers followed, maybe,  five minutes behind.
It took about two years, though, before the best of the journalism followed that _ comments below the stories.
The Gator With the Hooter ....
... and the Heater
Comments, for me, are often better than the stories themselves.
So there it was after the Steve Addazio hiring story, when a guy who purported to be Philadelphia radio and TV icon Jerry Blavat said simply this:
"Welcome to Philadelphia, coach Daz. I know you are going to do a great job." _ Jerry Blavat.
Now I'm not naive enough to think that was actually Jerry Blavat. I have no way of knowing that. I'm also not cynical enough to think that it wasn't the real Jerry Blavat, you know, "The Geator With the Heater" and the "Boss with the Hot Sauce."
(For all of you people living outside Philly, Jerry Blavat and Dick Clark, fast friends to this day, were equally big in this town with the "yon teens" at about the same time. Clark left Philly to amass his fortune elsewhere. Blavat remained and amassed his here.)
Boss with the hot sauce didn't stick, but Geator with the Heater certainly did.
In a roundabout way, Geator With the Heater's comment stuck with me today because it's Wednesday and our new Gator head coach, Steve Addazio, still hasn't brought his Heater to Philadelphia. That's Chuck Heater, the Florida co-defensive coordinator, who was reported to be following Addazio on the same flight to Philadelphia to take the Czar of Temple Defense job.
The Gator Without The Heater in this case.
"Welcome to Philadelphia, coach Daz. I know you are going to do a great job." _ Jerry Blavat.

That had me a little concerned on Monday and I emailed one of the Florida newspaper guys who reported that Heater was likely headed for Temple.
He got back to me today.
"Coach wants to hear about another job first," he said.
I can't say I blame Chuck Heater, the current Florida defensive coordinator who might be up for that same job in places like Michigan and UCLA.
Michigan and UCLA pay more than Temple.
I want Chuck Heater to be Addazio's next hire, but more than that I want Chuck Heater to want to be here.
Heater would bring an impressive resume to Temple and I'm confident he would have this current defense in the right position to do as well or better than Mark D'Onofrio's defense did last year.
There's a comfort level with Addazio than can't be underestimated that might not exist, say, with Rick Neuheisel.
Imagine the publicity Addazio and Heater would get if they beat Penn State and Maryland, win the MAC and get the automatic qualifying non-BCS spot in next year's BCS bowl picture?
Nothing Heater can do at Michigan or UCLA next year can match the level of satisfaction that Temple accomplishment would bring him.
Yet if there is no Gator With the Heater, there are capable guys, like Delaware DC Nick Rapone, who would take the Temple job in a heartbeat.
It just doesn't have the same ring as The Gator With the Heater.
I'm crossing my fingers for that pairing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Addazio's staff starting to take shape

Frank Piraino
 There's this Planet Fitness commercial going around these days with a muscle-bound guy with a German accent getting a tour of the gym and repeating (apparently) the only English words he knows:
"I like to lift things up and put them down."
The tour guide then shows him the door.
I used to look at strength coaches pretty much the same way until I met Dr. Linc Gotschalk, Bruce Arians' guy at Temple.
Gotschalk had strength and the art of weightlifting down to a science long before his time. He could quote Shakespere and military history. A smart guy who had his Temple teams fit.
When Temple played Rutgers, for instance, Temple guys would hit the RU guys and they would routinely be carried off the field.
The same wouldn't happen to Temple guys, who bounced off similar hits.
Linc Gotschalk would just smile.
He was one of a kind and Bruce Arians' guy. Temple won 15 national powerlifting championships under Gotschalk, who is now at  Hawaii.
Strength coaches and football coaches have a similar bond.
Tony Decker was a good guy, but he wasn't Steve Addazio's guy.
Addazio has made two hires so far, Frank Piraino as his strength coach and Justin Frye as his offensive line coach. All I know about Frye is that he was a grad assistant at Florida. Geez, I'd like a guy with a little more than GA experience coaching my offensive line, but Addazio was the best offensive line coach Florida ever had so he might know a little more than I do about this.
I don't know Jack (or Frye or Piraino) about both, but I know they are both Addazio's guys and that's important.
I'm hoping for Chuck Heater to be my defensive coordinator and maybe Ralph Friedgen or George DeLeone as my OC so maybe I'll  have something to be more to be excited about in the next few days. But more than me being excited as a fan, they have got to be guys Addazio is comfortable with and loyal to him.
To succeed, you have to have your team in place.
It's OK to borrow a player or two from another guy's team (say Matt Rhule from Golden's team to be LB coach), but it's got to be largely your guys.
We'll be getting more Addazio guys in here over the next few days.
Then it's time to rock and roll.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Addazio Era Begins Today

Coach Daz takes his sunny disposition of positive attitude here today.

A sportswriter I know, who is the best at covering high school sports maybe in the country, has this habit of talking to himself.
Or at least I thought it was to himself.
He has one of those little machines, not quite a tape-recorder, but the functionality of which is to make those little mental notes to yourself permanent.
I haven't gone that far but, for the past few years at least, I've become a list-maker.
I carry a little book around in my pocket and, when I have to remember something, I write it down.
The Steve Addazio Era Begins today at Temple and I hope he's making his list and checking it twice.
Who knows what's on it?
One the plane ride up today, Addazio is probably making this list:
Chuck Heater: Just call him Mother (Teresa)

1) Hire an offensive and defensive coordinator _ Florida defensive coordinator Chuck Heater is available and would be a great get for Addazio and Temple. All indications are that he will get the job as early as Monday. Heater has been such a miracle worker with Urban Meyer defenses in several stops along the way that Meyer calls him "Mother Teresa." Ralph Friedgen of nearby Maryland is available for the OC job. He's getting paid by Maryland even if he takes the Temple job (via buyout) and can be sold on giving Maryland some serious payback in a game between the Owls and Terps in Sept. A guy who was fired after being named ACC coach of the year can't be too happy with Maryland right now. If he's not interested, former Addazio coaching mate George DeLeone probably would be. These guys (Addazio and Heater at least)  are national championship-caliber coaches. Imagine Temple being run by offensive and defensive coordinators with national championship experience at the highest level? It can't get any better than that.
2) Talk Muhammad Wilkerson out of going pro _ This could be tougher because it appears Big Mo had his heart set on going pro a few weeks ago. Bad move for Big Mo because his stock could go up significantly with another year at Temple and he's likely to be no higher than a third-round pick this year. That's not guaranteed money. In fact, there's no guarantee that there will even be an NFL next year due to the messy contract negotiations ahead and the possibility (probability?) of a walkout. Give Big Mo the Vitamin A and Destination Temple speech. Getting Big Mo to stay here would be like landing a five-star recruit.
3) Lock up the current Temple recruits. If a current Gator recruit is wavering, convince him to get on the plane for the Destination Temple ride up north.
4) Investigate getting a blue-chipper, like Quinton Alston, a linebacker from South Jersey, who has de-committed from Pitt and now is open. I talked to Alston's coach two years ago about a running back named Najeem Gibson. He told me to forget Gibson but that he had a "stud linebacker, a big-time linebacker" who "loves Temple." That big-time linebacker was Quinton Alston. Give him the Destination Temple speech. Shake the bushes for similar guys, guys with BCS-level talent. That's how to make Temple the TCU of the East. Get BCS-level talent.
5) Look into keeping a member or two of the current staff, like tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Ed Foley, to ease the transition. Foley is a good guy, a consummate professional, who is easy to get along with, the fans like and who would be a positive part of the new team. He knows the Temple ropes and the current Temple targets.
6) Keep the support staff, like video coordinator Fran Duffy (not to be confused with Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy) _ Al Golden said "there is no better video coordinator in the business" than Fran Duffy. I totally agree with Al Golden on this. In fact, anyone who has watched  the pre-game and the banquet videos produced and shot by Duffy has to agree.
That's just part of the list.
Crossing items off that list will be tasks for the days and weeks ahead.
TFF's winning Mega Millions numbers:
Tuesday's Mega Millions is an estimated $290 million.
If these numbers (11, 6, 30, 12, 13, megaplier No. 9) come up, I win, and Temple gets a fully-paid-for
no-frills, 46K-seat, football-only (meaning the fans are right on top of the field, no track surrounding it) stadium to be called, simply, Temple Stadium.
11 _Big East Player of the Year Walter Washington
for the 2004 Owls. Despite getting kicked out of the BE, the voters could not deny Temple had the best offensive player in the league.
6 _ Paul Palmer, 1986 Heisman Trophy runnerup. You finish second in the Heisman Trophy balloting playing for Temple and that's got to be a lucky number.
30_Bernard Pierce, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner (I hope). He's got that kind of talent. He's faster than Palmer, just as shifty, and can knock over D-backs and LBs better than Boo-Boo ever did. What he hasn't been able do to as well as Boo-Boo is stay on the field. All he has to do is that, get 20TDs and 2,000 yards and lead Temple to an 11-1 record or better and the Heisman is his. (Also a tribute to 1979 Garden State Bowl MVP Mark Bright, another No. 30.)
12_Brian Broomell, led the nation in passing efficiency in 1979.
13_Adam DiMichele, heck with the stats, the kid was tough as nails and a winner. Probably my favorite Temple quarterback of all time.
.... and the winning Megaplier goes to No. 9, Steve Joachim, the only Temple quarterback to win a major award as college football player of the year (Maxwell, 1974).
There you have it. If those numbers come up, I will walk away with $290 million. (Unless you play them and it'll be half that and the best I'll be able to do is a 23K stadium.)