Monday, December 31, 2012

The Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever is... Wang!

Yes, it's official - after seven weeks of rigorous voting and contentious debate, The Football Attic is proud to proclaim Wang as the Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever!

The former American computer giant, whose name was once emblazoned on the shirts of Oxford United, beat off stiff opposition throughout, culminating in a titanic battle in the Final against Newcastle Brown Ale. Yet when Big Ben rang out to signal the end of our colossal vote-off (and the arrival of 2013), it was Wang who had undoubtedly gained the upper hand.

During the week-long Final itself we received a whopping 379 votes, and though the split was around 45%-55% in favour of Wang for most of the time, a last-day surge changed that share to 37%-63% by close of play.

It was the cherry on the cake of a fine campaign played out by fans of Wang and, to a considerable extent, Oxford United. Receiving a bye to the Second Round, they proceeded to bulldoze their way past Rank Xerox (70%-30%) and NEC (63%-37%) before encountering their toughest contest in Round Four against Crown Paints which they duly won by 56% to 44%.

After that, it was plain sailing all the way to the Final with wins over Carlsberg (Wimbledon) in the Quarter Finals (69%-31%) and Guinness in the Semi Finals (71%-29%). As an early fancied entrant, Wang showed their promise throughout and rarely looked a doubt to be our eventual champions.

Over seven weeks, we received 8,426 votes - an enormous amount and one that we're truly staggered by. For that, we'd like to send a huge thank you to all of you that took part in the voting at one time or another as we clearly had no idea that so many of you would be keen to take part. Obviously the title of Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever is one that many of you wanted to see bestowed upon your own team!

Before we draw a close to this momentous event, we'd finally like to send our warm and sincere thanks to John Devlin, a man who knows more about football shirt design than many of us would ever dream of. As the designer and creative genius behind the True Colours project, we were naturally honoured when John allowed us to illuminate our vote-offs by using his beautiful illustrations. Without his help and support, our competition would surely not have been so popular.

And with that, we say congratulations once again to Wang for becoming The Football Attic's Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever. An outstanding winner and a great champion.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Football Attic Podcast Episode 3 - Retro Football Kit Design

What do you get if you cross someone with chronic insomnia, a bloke on the other side of the world and a geektastic level of enthusiasm for football kits?

The answer lies within the next 50 minutes of your listening time, good friends, for we at The Attic have produced (at loooooong last) another episode of The Football Attic podcast!

We still haven't managed to get iTunes working (curse you Apple!!!) so to download it, it's the rather retro method of 'Right-click and Save As' from the link below:

Football Attic Podcast Episode 3

Have a listen, enjoy, and as usual please do let us know what you think... :)

Matt Rhule becomes TU's full-time coach today

A hybrid helmet between the old (left) and the new would be the best in college football.

Matt Rhule
Head Football Coach
Temple University

Dear Matt,
Let me officially be among the first to welcome you to the job full-time as Temple football coach now that the Giants have been eliminated.
I know you've been working hard for Temple since being hired, but it's nice to get your full attention now.
I wish you nothing but the best. These players deserve a coach who will stay here and win for a long time.
First, thanks for bringing back the forward pass and Nick Rolovich to Temple. We've missed aspect of the game since the New Mexico Bowl.
You weren't around at the end of the first half versus Maryland when the fans chanted in unison "Throw ... The .. Ball."
 It's just as well.
Worst. Helmet. Ever. (Sorry, Chonn.)
You've come a long way since the last time we crossed paths and exchanged pleasantries while jogging at Mondak Commons in Upper Dublin Township a few years ago.
In the year since you've been gone, a few things changed that you might or might not know about. I'm sure you know coach Addazio changed the helmets. That was not a popular move to former players, who preferred the TEMPLE spelled out, as do most Temple fans (the results of a poll overwhelmingly favored the old Temple helmet).
Yet I realize branding the '][' is important, too. To me, the perfect compromise would be just that, a compromise, splitting the helmet down the middle with TEMPLE on one side and the T on the other side. To me, that would be the most distinctive and best helmet in college football today.
Nothing would please Dynamo Hyno more than a return to the TEMPLE helmet.

I know it's not important in the overall scheme of things, but I hope you consider at least going in the direction of changing the helmets back to the Golden Era variety since that call was on Golden and Daz in the past.
It is now your call.
No biggie, since we survived the awful Owl helmet era and the attitude inside the helmet is more important than the lettering on the outside of it.
Also, you might have noticed in the Army game, we have an abundance of BCS-level linebackers and a dearth of depth at DE. Hopefully, some serious consideration is given to switching at least temporarily to the 3-4 until some big-time Adrian Robinson-type pass rushers can be recruited at the DE position.
I think Temple football will be the most exciting sports ticket in Philadelphia soon due to the changes you have already implemented.
I know the best is yet to come.
Good luck and Go Owls!

Mike Gibson
Editor and Publisher
Temple Football Forever

Friday, December 28, 2012

Panini: Football 80

I’m a big fan of the ‘white album’. Some say it epitomised the peak of popular culture around the time of its release but I have a more balanced point of view. For me, It was experimental in certain areas but also rested heavily on its obvious strengths to provide a combination that’s rarely been bettered. Perhaps we’ll talk about The Beatles later, but for now, let’s stick with Panini.

Football 80 was their third domestic sticker album for the UK and was the first one I ever owned. It had many familiar aspects retained from previous collections, but you could sense a notable intent to try out the occasional new idea and tweak a few things here and there too.

Take the stickers, for instance. Compared to Football 79, they were squarer in shape once again and had a simpler design. Now, below the main picture, there was only the player’s details and a triangular pennant framing the club badge.

Speaking of badges, the silky, silvery fabric that had been so innovative the year before had been replaced for this edition by the now traditional shiny foil. It was a shame in many ways, but fabric was never really going to be able to convey the special status of silver on those wonderful club badge stickers.

As far as the album was concerned, the opening page was allocated to England manager Ron Greenwood’s introduction where he discussed his hopes for the coming season. England were on the verge of qualifying for the 1980 European Championships, and Greenwood reflected on the achievement of getting the national team to its first major tournament in ten years. An interesting way to get the album off and running, but an altogether more sober approach than the sticker-based map of the UK we’d had the previous year.

On the team pages, however, it was business as usual with every First Division team enjoying a two-page spread containing 17 stickers and among the sights to see were Brighton and Hove Albion appearing in Division One for the first time. Alan Mullery had taken over from Clough and Taylor at the Goldstone Ground and moulded together a squad featuring such luminaries as Mark Lawrenson and Brian Horton. They’d finish a commendable 16th out of 22 in the 1979-80 season that followed and would become something of a fixture in the top flight during the following seasons.

Then there was Coventry City who, with their six moustaches and two beards, were the hairiest of all the First Division teams featured in the album. Granted, Les Sealey’s beard was still a work in progress and Mick Ferguson probably had more hair than the rest of the team put together, but nonetheless this was a terrific display of hirsuteness.

A change of tack was applied for the Second Division pages. Previously, Panini collectors would have been looking to get the team picture and team badge for each of the twenty-two clubs, but for Football 80 it was possible to collect pictures for 11 players, plus the manager. Admittedly they all appeared in pairs on each sticker, but this was an excellent opportunity to get to know some of the players plying their trade outside the English top flight - especially in conjunction with the page of Second Division badges that preceded them in the album.

It could be said that Division Two was a land of sleeping giants. There was Birmingham City, led by Jim Smith and full of great players like Archie Gemmill, Alan Curbishley and Keith Bertschin. Chelsea, managed by Geoff Hurst, were trying to get back to the First Division with the likes of Ron Harris, Micky Droy and Clive Walker. Luton Town were on the rise with eye-catching talent such as Ricky Hill, Mal Donaghy and Brian Stein while FA Cup holders West Ham still had an eclectic mix of youth and experience managed by John Lyall - and that’s without mentioning teams like Newcastle United, Watford, QPR and Sunderland.

Anyone suggesting Division Two was equally as good as the Scottish Premier Division might have had a case, judging by the Football 80 album. That’s because for the first time, Panini had reduced the space allocated to each team from two pages to just half a page. To do this, they adopted the same approach as for the Second Division teams, i.e. putting a pair of players on each sticker and have all the badges on one page.

Almost certainly it wouldn’t have gone down well with fans north of the border, but luckily we weren’t to be totally denied the sight of a tracksuited Alec Ferguson, the Bukta sponsored Hibernian team or the reassuringly Dad-like Jimmy Bone of St. Mirren.

With a full-colour picture of the ‘Football League Official Ball’ on the back cover, this was the 66-page Panini album for the 1979-80 season. Unlike other albums, it lacked the occasional set-piece flash of brilliance but it made up for it with a consistently high standard from beginning to end. A good collection and one worth owning if occasional eBay purchases are your thing.

See also:

Rhule's complete staff is ...

BREAKING NEWS: Nick Rolovich accepts position as Temple offensive coordinator as of 6:30 p.m. Saturday night ... as Tyler Haddock-Jones might say ... #geniuses ..
The Wisconsin football website "Bucky's 5th Quarter" has high praise for Rolovich.

Nick Rolovich
The most agonizing thing out of Matt Rhule's first few days as Temple head coach has to be the delay in the staff hiring announcements, which has to be expected.
The fans want to hear who now and that's just not happening.
After all, Rhule's got a job to finish at New York first.
Yet, if we are to believe the recruits, they seem to know who the assistants will be and they are not telling.
One of them, Tyler Haddock-Jones, used the hashtag #geniuses to describe the staff Rhule is assembling (see post below). He tweeted that he got off the phone with Rhule at 1:23 on Sunday afternoon and that Rhule told him what the staff would be then.
Haddock-Jones must have been impressed or maybe he's just easily impressed.
We should find out one or the other in the next few days.
So far, two assistants have been named and while both appear to be solid hires, I wouldn't use the hashtag #geniuses next to either one. Brandon Noble is going to be defensive line coach, while Rhule hired a guy from Tennessee Chattanoga, Marcus Satterfield,  to be an offensive coach in some capacity.
Of course, there are more announcements forthcoming and I would use the hashtag #geniuses next to these two:
Genius, miracle-worker, same thing.

Heater, for obvious reasons well-documented here. He's been an outstanding defensive coach everywhere he's been and his 2011 Temple defense might have been one of the school's best ever. It's not his fault two of his starting defensive linemen were suspended or that his defensive ends lacked closing speed on the quarterback. A 3-4 defense utilizing linebackers as pass rushers would fix that problem until the Owls can recruit some stud sackers. Love to see Heater retained.
Rolovich's pistol offense would work well at Temple. Chris Coyer was not the same quarterback in 2012 as he was in 2011 simply because Scot Loeffler wasn't around to utilize he talents.
If Coyer can get out of a pass rush and throw on the run, that makes him a more effective dual-threat. The same can be said for Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome, who have similar skill sets.
I'll believe Rolovich comes when I see him on North Broad Street. It might be a culture shock for someone who has worked in Hawaii and near Vegas the last two years to work at 10th and Diamond. Still, it can't be too different from the Gainesville to Philly trip Heater enjoyed and, from all accounts, is apparently enjoying.
We don't know yet if Rolovich and Heater are in the fold or will be in the fold, but if they join Rhule the staff IQ goes up exponentially and Haddock-Jones can use that hashtag without fear of contradiction.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Puma ads (Manchester United), circa 1978

What do Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen, Allan Simonsen, Jimmy Greenhoff, Brian Greenhoff, Andy Gray, Johan Cruyff, Chelsea FC, the Austrian national team and the Argentinian national team have in common?

No, they haven't all been signed by Roman Abramovich at one time or another. The correct answer is they all wore Puma football boots in the late 1970's, and to prove the point, here are a couple of ads showing the first two on the list doing just that.

"Puma make fourteen different soccer boots. One of them will help you play better" said the ads. Had you taken the plunge and bought two, however, you'd have really seen your overall standard improve...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever - The Final

Newcastle Brown & Wang! 

No, not a night out on Tyneside... well, maybe it is for some, but no, not here my fellows, for this is the Final of the Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever!!!

After starting out with 96 sponsors from the annals of English and Scottish football, we're down to the final two. And what a journey... Stone cold classics such as Crown Paints, Sharp, JVC and Granada Bingo (shut up!) have all fallen by the wayside and it's the mid-80s stars of Oxford United (remember them?) with Wang Computers against the north east stalwarts Newcastle Brown Ale... for Newcastle United, obviously.

Once again, our thanks and gratitude go out to John Devlin for kindly allowing us to use his fantastic illustrations. John's work can be found at the True Colours site and he is also on Twitter so pay him a visit and give him a follow.


Ah sod the rules, it's the Final!

Voting closes at 23:59 GMT on Monday 31st December - so we will all get to start 2013 safe in the knowledge that the Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever will have been decided!

Right... Off you go!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Five things I want under the E-O Tree

According to at least one recruit, Matt Rhule is putting together an all-star staff.

Hate to make rash judgments, but I saw enough of Nick Foles over the last few weeks to know one thing: The guy would make a good NFL backup, but he's not a starting quarterback in this league.
Nick Foles can't play.
He reminds me of a more polished Vaughn Charlton.
Owls need a DE with a game to
match a game face.
 Saw enough of him that I was jumping around on the TV at the gym yesterday and settled on the movie "Lord of the Rings: Helms Deep."
Then I saw exactly what the Temple defense needs: An Aragorn. The guy chopped off more heads than King Henry VIII and that was just with one swing.
That's just the type of defensive end Temple football needs right now, a Warrior who doesn't use excuses like "getting injured" or "lack of foot speed" for not getting to the quarterback.
If I had a dollar for the "almost" sacks of John Youboty, I'd be a rich man. Youboty was a split-second late on a lot of would-be sacks that became touchdown passes (Matt McGloin's long one in the PSU game immediately comes to mind).

 Temple needs a DE, preferably two, who routinely chops off quarterback's heads, at least figuratively.
Mum is the word with Tyler Haddock-Jones, but
he's excited about the new staff after talking with
Matt Rhule  at 1:22 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
I'm starting to warm up to the idea of Matt Rhule as Temple's head coach because the recruits and other coaches like him so much and because he's so connected to the available talent out there. If Rhule has to dip into the JUCO ranks to get a guy with an Aragorn motor, so be it.
 I don't think the kid currently is on the roster.
 Four other things I want to see under the Edberg-Olson Football Complex tree soon:
2) A practice bubble
 It's ridiculous that Temple has to travel to the Nova Care Center to practice in inclement weather. Here's hoping a temporary structure at least can be put up immediately until funds for a more permanent one can be located. The week before the Louisville game, the Owls missed a whole day of practice time due to Hurricane Sandy and that certainly didn't help.
 3) Chuck Heater wrapped up as DC
 I know a lot of people were down on him at the end of the season, but he had absolutely no pass rush and, without a pass rush, you can't have a pass defense. When you look at his body of work wherever he's been, if he's not the best defensive coordinator in the country he's right up there. Indications, though, are that Heater will be around. One of the Temple recruits tweeted that he "talked to coach Rhule about the staff" and he's stoked about Rhule's impeding announcements, calling the group "geniuses." Genius is always the first word that comes up in my mind when I think of Chuck Heater.
 4) Size on the lines 
Steve Addazio did a lot of things half-hazardly as Temple's head coach, but none more than recruiting. He would recruit an inordinate amount of small guys and that really took its toll on the field of play this year with bigger lines pushing the Owls around. It's nice to get smaller-size guys with heart, but it's even nice to get larger-size guys with heart. Something tells me Rhule will restore some sanity to the overall recruiting model.
5) Another quarterback 
Right now the Owls are down to one recruit, P.J. Walker. P.J., I think, is going to be a great one but consider this: He's the only true QB in the entire program after the 2013 season. The Owls need to sign another big-time arm now.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas everyone and wouldn't it be great if the football team could do to Notre Dame what the basketball team did to Syracuse?
(Nah, I haven't been dipping into the egg nog early, if that's what you are thinking.)

Exchange between Idaho fans on board:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dead period: We're still alive


"What are you doing here?" Coughlin asked Rhule. "Go home."
"Well, coach I have a lot of things I have to do yet."
"No, go home. Your family comes first."
Is it the end of the world if there is no Temple football news?
No, thank God.
Fortunately, as we learned this morning, the abacus used by the Mayans for their calculations was just a little, hopefully a lot, off.
On Monday, Temple head coach Matt Rhule said this would be a "dead period" but he was referring to the recruiting world. No contact with recruits is allowed until the end of the holiday period.
I love reading the gossip column by Dan Gross in the Philadelphia Daily News but his last column of the calendar year was Dec. 15. Since Tom Cushman, Mark Whicker, Gary Smith, Ray Didinger and Stan Hochman left the DN, Gross' column is the first thing I turn to in my DN.
There's nothing grabs my attention in that sports section anymore.
If they were on top of things, and they aren't, they'd interrupt eight pages of their non-stop ad naseum Philadelphia Eagles' coverage for a story on Rhule's developing staff.
In the absence of hard news, substantive rumors will have to suffice.
The latest "Gross-like" gossip is defensive coordinator Chuck Heater stays in his current position and adds the title "assistant head coach" to the job description. I think that's quite likely and Heater's retention would be welcome news. The first sign that was going to happen was that Chuck remained at Temple to both interview for the head coaching position and keep the recruits together.
Like most things he does, Heater performed those duties flawlessly.
Bill Cubit made it to the semifinals in 2010, not the finals.

The second sign was that Steve Addazio hired Don Brown as his defensive coordinator. Hopefully, Heater told Daz he was planning to stay at Temple before that.
When Temple beat UConn, 17-14, and shut out the Huskies in the second half, I found myself standing next to Chuck by one of the buses post-game.
"I don't know what you did or said at halftime, but you are a genius," I told him.
"No, it wasn't me, it was the boys," Heater said. (Yes, Chuck did use the word boys.)
In my mind, Heater was the best defensive coordinator in the country in the 2011 season. Temple finished third in the nation in scoring defense, behind only Alabama and LSU. Temple did not have Alabama and LSU talent.
I saw a lot of Temple's defensive problems in 2012 as being Daz-oriented.
A nonsensical run-first, second and third approach resulted in a lot of three-and-outs and a tired defense. Two suspensions to linemen gutted front five depth. Daz kept the team's potentially best defensive player (in my mind, at least) on the bench as a Scout team quarterback.
Bringing Heater back and giving him Kevin Newsome and allowing him to work out the X's and O's of a 3-4 defense would be a big plus for Temple.
Future Owl kicker Jim Cooper, Jr. in this week's SI.

Another lively development in the dead period was future Owl kicker Jim Cooper, Jr. featured in this week's Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd. He's the first  future Temple football player featured there since Kevin Harvey played at Paulsboro. You are not likely to read about that development in the Daily News, either.
The latest offensive coordinator rumor has former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit, the former OC at Rutgers, coming home to Sharon Hill and helping Rhule out. I like that move, if it happens.
Cubit is an offensive mastermind and would allow Rhule to concentrate on being team CEO, which is really a full-time job.
Speaking of that, hate to say it, Matt, but I'm rooting against the Giants the next two weeks.
In the presser Monday, Rhule told a story about his wife getting sick and Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin telling him to leave and go home.
"What are you doing here?" Coughlin asked Rhule. "Go home."
"Well, coach I have a lot of things I have to do yet."
"No, go home. Your family comes first."
Well, Temple is his family now.
Somehow, I think the Giants can get along for the final two games without an assistant offensive line coach. Heck, the Eagles fired almost their entire staff over the last few weeks and they seem to be doing just fine.
Err, maybe that's a bad example but you get my drift.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pelé's Soccer, 1980

At what point does the human brain reject the hopelessly inadequate images of our youth and demand something with more detail and clarity?

This question is most apposite when discussing classic video games. Take Pelé's Soccer, for example. Here was an arcade football game created for the Atari 2600 which should have proved that technology had moved on from the days of ‘pong football’. The reality, however, saw you moving players around on your screen that looked like pixelated blobs. Quite honestly, they could have been anything.

Yet back in 1980 when this game was released, your brain would have probably overlayed a thick veneer of imagination to make your three outfield players look like a top-down version of the real thing. It would have also ignored the fact that your players were locked in an invisible triangular force field, never able to break free of their 1-3-0 formation. Wherever the ball was kicked, you could be sure there was someone from your team nearby to pick it up.

And what about that ball? It was a rectangle, for heaven’s sake, but did anyone ever question it?  No, because if Pelé played with a ball that wasn't round, it was good enough for us too.

How easily impressed we must have been back then, but here’s the rub. Those blocky players actually appeared to move as they ran. Their feet poked out with every stride, and when one kicked the ball, a big rectangular foot protruded to make contact with it. These players were ANIMATED. We weren't deluded - we were ENTHRALLED.

Oh sure, the teams could only play in orange or blue, but think of the plus points. There was no need to waste time when the ball went out of play, because it couldn't go out of play. You were effectively playing on a walled five-a-side pitch. And when you scored a goal, an impromptu firework display went off. You don't get that in FIFA 13.

By now, the cynics amongst you might be asking whether Pelé actually appeared in the game in any way. The short and rather disappointing answer is 'No', but he did at least make an appearance on a Brazilian TV advert for the game. If you're not impressed by that, the UK TV equivalent featured Morecambe and Wise partnering Trevor Brooking. You wouldn't get Ant and Dec advertising a video game system.

All in all, then, Pelé's Soccer did that thing that all classic computer games do, namely use very limited resources and simple execution to create the sort of addictive gameplay that would occupy you for hours. Add a little of your own imagination, and you had the perfect video football game.

Shame about that ball, though.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever - Semi Finals

So we're down to the final four, and despite it looking like the Final was to be a re-run of the 1986 Milk Cup Final between Oxford and QPR, fate has intervened and made it a semi final encounter instead.

In the other semi, that there London meets Oop North so expect bare-chested barrel-shaped supporters and plenty of apples and pears... or something...

So, will it be an all-London final? Or will you all go for some full on Wang action (honestly, this stuff writes itself)? Or will we all be gannin' doon tha' toon for a bottle o' Newky Broon?  Ant n Dec... Spuggy...

Once again, our thanks and gratitude go out to John Devlin for kindly allowing us to use his fantastic illustrations. John's work can be found at the True Colours site and he is also on Twitter so pay him a visit and give him a follow.


1) You are voting for the SPONSOR, not the team that it adorned.

2) Voting for Round 2 closes at 23:59 GMT on Sunday 24th December - what a lovely present for the finalists on Christmas day!

3) This is a bit of fun... if you don't like the results, take a deep breath, smile and accept that democracy is flawed... ;-)

NB Again, the polls will no longer show the results after you've voted. Results will only be revealed at the end of the round.

Gor Blimey... Pet...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rhule: Substance, credibility over talk

Comcast's feed was better than the one broadcast on Temple's YouTube channel.

The last thing Steve Addazio said a  couple of days before walking out the door was that this off-season "would not be a box of chocolates" and "would be a rough deal" for the players and that "they would work harder than any team in the history of Temple University."
The last two weeks have more like a box of chocolates than a rough deal.
Life is like a box of chocolates for BC fans now.
They have no idea of what kind of run play they are
going to get.
The comment about working harder than any team in the history of the school was an insult to Al Golden and Matt Rhule and every one of the guys who played for them and practiced outside in a couple feet of snow those first few years. It was an insult to guys who practiced on a rock-strewn field for Bruce Arians (now the Student Pavilion). It was an insult to Wayne Hardin's guys who had their chin straps stolen by neighborhood thugs in the 1970s when practicing at 16th and Norris. Addazio didn't know what went on then. He couldn't have.
Yet he talked. He liked talking.
By now, though, we know that Addazio was mostly talk, little substance.
On this day two years ago, Daz said "make Temple a destination school" and "don't be passing through" yet he passed through quicker than any of his players and rented a home.
Yesterday was Matt Rhule's day and he was a little talk, but heavy on substance.
The new head football coach at Temple University did not drop any "box of chocolates" line on his first day, but you knew from listening to him that he didn't have to.
That box of chocolates is all eaten now and the Owls will get back to work, Rhule-style.
My guess if it ever snows again the players will be out there working out in it.
Rhule still owns the home he will move right back into soon.

'Twelve of those said Temple was their dream job and seven of them were interviewing for other jobs at the time and couldn't make it to our scheduled interview'
_Bill Bradshaw
Actions speak louder than words, yet Rhule had his say after Bill Bradshaw dropped the funniest line of the day: "The interest in our head-coaching position was overwhelming, diverse and national in scope. We had 119 serious applicants and narrowed it down to 36 potential candidates, 12 of those said Temple was their dream job and seven of them were interviewing for other jobs at the time and couldn't make it to our scheduled interview. Four of those needed a GPS or an on-star to get from the airport to campus, so we eliminated them as well."
Bradshaw then said Rhule "was an Acre of Diamond in our own backyard."
Good Russell Conwell stuff, but there was more.
Just as Al Golden did seven years ago, Rhule referenced Russell Conwell in his remarks.
As far as I  know, Addazio still doesn't know who Russell Conwell is because I was not able to remember a single quote  from Daz about the founder of Temple University and his unique story.
Rhule did not address who his assistants will be or what kind of offense he will be running. Hopefully, TEMPLE will go back on at least half the helmet because that kind of branding was important to Golden. We'll find out that nuts and bolts stuff soon enough. More importantly, he addressed larger issues like trust and commitment.
For a group of kids who have been abandoned twice in three years, that's what they needed to hear.
If the larger university community came away with a sense that this was a young man who said what he believed and believed what he said, the first day was a big success.
The empty box of chocolates has been shipped to Boston.

Great Tracksuits of Our Time: No.6

The sixth installment in our 'Great Tracksuits' series comes courtesy of Sam Swaffield, co-editor of The Seagull Love Review. A devout Brighton fan, Sam's keen to draw our attention to the apparel worn by his team during one of the high points of their history...

"As a kid growing up in the 90's, all I'd known was Albion kits manufactured by highly suspicious brands. The likes of Ribiero, Super League and Sports Express all had a shot at the stripes, and none of them are in business today.

The 80's though, as we all know, was a golden era. Our Adidas days, between '79 and '86, are viewed by my generation as some sort of kit utopia, where the historic stripes were dropped for an all royal blue dream, the West Germans no doubt unequivical over the phone to Hove; "For you Brighton und Hove Albion, ze stripes are over".

Pictures of the kits are easy to find. The British Caledonian emblazoned sheen of the '80 shirt is a classic, and the red Nobo away shirt of '86 is definitely worth a look. For what I like to call 'Leisure Wear' though, it is a different story.

Official team snaps from '82 show a classic Adidas 2-piece tracky; coaching staff in royal blue trousers and body with white sleeves and customary box fresh Copa Mundials.

For the FA Cup Final in '83 however, Adidas went into overdrive. First a new kit just for the Final (a cotton number with red and white pinstripes, danke schön), and then a new tracksuit for the journey to the team hotel and subsequent round of golf. This classic Albion apparel, a set of which I've never seen apart from in the video below, scrapped the white sleeves for dashing white and red go-faster stripes across the chest and embroidered FA Cup Finallist detail under the badge.

As Albion kit goes, this is the pinnacle. If I had one, I, too, would wear it with royal blue suede Sambas, and saunter around Brighton, king of sports casual, seagull savant, pride of Sussex.

It's worth noting in the video Chris Ramsey looking like Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Case rejecting Adidias and dressing like a crap Scouse Bruce Springsteen, and David Icke, dodging the lizard people, to actually present the piece. Happy days indeed."

Our grateful thanks go to Sam Swaffield for telling us about his 'Great Tracksuit', and don't forget, we'd love you to do the same by dropping us a line. Email us at admin [at] thefootballadmin [dot] com with all your details, and you, too, could see your words appearing in a future 'Great Tracksuits of Our Time' article!

Five Rhule changes

"You know, coach Rhule, the thing I like most about here is our TEMPLE helmets."

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.
There are exceptions and rainy days and Mondays when Temple replaces a 4-7 coach stubbornly stuck in his losing ways with hope and change is definitely one of them.
I wrote this on the first Sunday in December:

Never in my wildest dreams did I think Daz would concoct a harebrained, one-dimensional, offensive scheme that would lead to so many three-and-outs and put Temple's defense in an impossible position. The question then becomes, "Do you see him as a reasonable person open to change or a stubborn former offensive lineman who wants to run the ball all the time?"

In my heart, I knew what the answer to that question was and I thought Temple would be stuck with that guy, Temple Football Forever as it were.
Now, through some miracle, Steve Addazio is gone.
Matt Rhule represents that hope and change and he will be introduced today at a 2 p.m. press conference (Howard Gittis Room, Liacouras Center).
Rhule wasn't my first choice, but he is Bill Bradshaw's and I hope he's the best one.
I can see him making five "Rhule Changes" that could both work and be popular with Temple Nation, as Al Golden used to call it:

2011's best DC in the country.
1) Four and three minus 3 and 4
No, that's not some mathematical formula. Somehow, due to a couple of suspensions and over-recruiting at a position, Temple has about eight linebackers who are able to play at a high level of FBS football and about half of that number of quality defensive linemen. Go from the 5-2s and the 4-3s of the past to, at least temporarily, a 3-4 defense. That gets a lot of playmakers on the field and gives the DC an option to blitz a couple of LBs and keep a couple more in pass coverage. I'd love to see Chuck Heater, who I called the best defensive coordinator in the country a year ago, stay and work out those Xs and Os. If not, former Temple DC Nick Rapone, who is Delaware's defensive coordinator and three-time National DC of the year in FCS football, is available (and his daughter goes to Temple).

2) Binder of men
Mitt Romney had "Binders of Women." Al Golden had his binder of men. I asked Golden what was in his binder once and he said he had how to run a program, down from hiring the grad assistants to how to recruit. Golden always believed in recruiting a "team" of 25 guys, one for each position, including specialists, every year. I always thought that was sound thinking. Steve Addazio flew from the seat of his pants on a lot of things and one of them was recruiting, which explains why Temple had eight good linebackers and not enough good linemen this year. Somehow, I think Rhule will adopt Golden's binder philosophy.

3) Best athletes on the field
Since Matt last left us, Temple was able to recruit one of the best athletes in FBS football, former Penn State quarterback Kevin Newsome. For reasons known only to Addazio, Newsome was kept holding a clipboard on the sideline and running the scout team offense. Meanwhile, the back line of the Temple defense was dreadful. Newsome was only a first-team All-State defensive back in Virginia, along with his national top 5 quarterbacking skills. If Newsome is going to be third-team QB again, he deserves a chance to play defense. He's only 6-3, 215, runs a 4.5 40 and has a 37-inch vertical leap and good ball skills. Somehow, call me crazy, I think the back line of the defense improves with a talent like that.
Hands off my helmet, baldy

4) The King Solomon Solution
After Addazio ditched the most distinctive and, in my mind best, helmet in college football history, I ran a poll  on this site. Overwhelmingly, Temple fans wanted the TEMPLE helmet back but there was a minority who liked the T and had good reasons, too. I'm in favor of splitting this baby right down the middle and the beauty of this solution is that nobody gets hurt. TEMPLE on one side. T on the other side. That way, you get the Temple University brand out there (T) and the Temple football brand (TEMPLE) on the field together.

5) Elephant in the Room
I think the issue of stability and depending on a coach long-term should and will be addressed today and I hope Matt does just that. I grew up as a Temple fan watching Harry Litwack, who was here for decades, Skip Wilson who was here for decades and John Chaney and Wayne Hardin who had double-digit-year runs as Temple coaches. All of those coaches loved Temple enough to make long-term commitments. They "got" Temple, as does current hoop coach Fran Dunphy. If there's are two common threads there those are loyalty and success. All those coaches as successful as they were loyal. Only lately, and only in football, has the position of head coach become a revolving door. That Elephant needs to addressed and I'm confident it will.
If Matt Rhule becomes as successful and as loyal as Litwack, Wilson, Chaney, Hardin and Dunphy, today will be one of the great days in Temple sports history.

Tomorrow: Complete coverage of the Matt Rhule Press Conference

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Matt Rhule Story resumes at Chapter 3

When and if Hollywood ever makes the Matt Rhule Story, another Matt (Damon) might be playing the title role and whatever happens on Monday, December 17, will be somewhere in the middle of the motion picture.
That's because, at Temple University, the first couple chapters of the script have already been written. Young, dynamic, assistant coach helps friend lift a football program off the scrap heap of Division I football and into respectability. Then he's passed over as head coach only to replace the guy who was picked instead of him.
Instead of sulking about being passed over the first time, he stays to keep a recruiting class together and helps the new coach win the school's first bowl in 30 years.
After that achievement, he goes off to the big city and the bright lights of the NFL, only to be beckoned home by a crisis.
He becomes the school's third coach in five years and restores the shaken players' faith in humanity. Not quite Friday Night Lights, but at least Saturday Afternoon Heights.
Good stuff so far.
Whether or not it's good enough for the silver screen will be determined in how the story develops moving forward.
The next scene is an important one because there will be an Elephant in the Room. The Elephant this time is stability and how long Rhule commits to staying at Temple.
If I were Rhule, I wouldn't do what the last guy, Steve Addazio, did on the same day, saying he would tell recruits "to make Temple a destination school" and "don't be passing through."
Steve Addazio poses with the greatest helmet in the
history of college football the day he was introduced as coach.
Two months later, he got rid of it.

I would say, "I'm not going to ask the kids to do what I wouldn't do. I'm staying for the duration. I'm not leaving unless I get kicked out of here and I don't intend on getting kicked out of here. My solemn vow is that I won't consider another job while I'm under contract to Temple. The people here have made a commitment to me and I will do the same for them. That's only fair."
In a world when money talks and BS walks, that statement alone would make national news. He would be the first coach hired in this day and age of musical chairs to ever say something like that.
"After all I did to change the helmets to TEMPLE,
Addazio is doing WHAT? That stubborn 3-yards-
in-a-cloud-of-dust rat bastard is going to get fired
and Matt Rhule is going to change the helmets back."
It would be a powerful scene in the movie, too.
Another nice touch would be changing the Temple helmets back to  the popular TEMPLE era version (maybe with the school's distinctive T on one side as a King Solomon-like Compromise) but that's not a pressing need for Monday.
Cut to the final scene a few years later where a quarterback named P.J. Walker scrambles around and connects with a receiver named Khalif Herbin on a "Hail Mary" play in the end zone to win a BCS bowl game against Miami (Fla.).
Everybody goes crazy and Rhule, after a midfield handshake with old buddy Al Golden,  puts it in perspective.
"It's just like the Doug Flutie play that beat Miami many years ago," Rhule said. "Except we're Boston College this time and our school gets put on the map and Boston College is pretty much in obscurity now, right?"
Chuckle, chuckle.
Fade to black.
Cut and print.
That's a wrap.
Only in the movies?
Maybe, maybe not.

Tomorrow: Five things Rhule might change right away

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rhule to be named head coach

BREAKING NEWS: As of Saturday night, Matt Rhule officially accepts offer to become Temple's 26th head football coach ... press conference on Monday ... I already updated Temple football Wikipedia page ...
Matt Rhule motions to his PSU teammates to get a good look at the worst
helmet in the history of college football after a sack of a Temple QB.

Some people dream about Jessica Cristobal, I dream of Matt Rhule.
(Hey, I can't pick my dreams, they just happen.)
In this latest one (true dream, not a made-up one), Rhule is addressing a group of Temple supporters and members of the press at his "introductory" press conference in the Howard Gittis Room at the Liacouras Center.
The team is going wild in the background and all during the conference nobody can hear what Rhule is saying because of the noise the group is making amongst themselves.
Jessica, we hardly knew ye
The newspaper and TV guys along the first row are shrugging their shoulders and pointing to their ears.
Suddenly, Bill Bradshaw goes to the podium, takes the microphone from Matt and says: "Guys, I know you are excited but please give Matt a chance to talk. This is his day. It's rude to be talking while he's talking. OK, Matt."
Then Bradshaw hands the microphone back to Rhule and a spitball flies by Bradshaw's ear.
Then I wake up.
Unless Temple re-opens its coaching search, something like this will happen on Monday around noontime, with or without the noise or the spitballs.
This just  in: Temple won't be re-opening the coaching search and Matt Rhule will be named head coach on Monday. Rhule is the current assistant offensive line coach of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Just as there were red flags surrounding past hirings (like Jerry Berndt going 0-11 before he was hired and DC Ron Dickerson giving up 55 points in his last game), a coach this well-liked being hired is a huge red flag to me.
I would like someone to ask Bradshaw why Temple didn't reach out to Ball State coach Pete Lembo (it didn't), but I doubt that question is going to come up or be answered on Monday.
"The biggest thing I would say: I am blessed to be at Temple and I love Temple"
_ Matt Rhule
I'd rather have an ass-kicking Bill Belichick-type than a "players' friend" Andy Reid-type any day of the week.
People tell me Matt can be quite the disciplinarian but I will have to see that for myself in the next few months.
I keep hoping something good comes out of this. Maybe Matt brings in Adam DiMichele to be his QB coach. Maybe he brings back Bruce Francis to show the wide receivers how it is done. Maybe he can convince DC Chuck Heater and Heater's son-in-law, Sean Cronin, to stay. Give Heater Kevin Newsome to play free safety and Heater becomes the best DC in the country again and Temple gets another first-round NFL draft pick.
Still, it all comes down to winning. To me, that's all that matters.
I felt even in Steve Addazio's final days that nothing short of seven wins in 2013 was acceptable.
I'm holding Matt Rhule to those same standards. I hope he holds himself to that standard.
I hope he holds the players to those standards.
To me, the success or failure of Matt Rhule's selection as next Temple coach rests on that record. Nothing else.
Until then, when it comes to Matt Rhule, I've moved from Northeast Philly to Missouri: Show me.
Jessica Cristobal, we hardly knew ye.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our picks: Lembo, Bowles, Rhule (in that order)

BREAKING NEWS: CBS Sports and are now reporting as of Thursday night it's down to Rhule or D'Onofrio ... God help Temple if it's D'Onofrio, whose Miami defense was ranked No. 118 of 120 FBS teams in 2012 ...

Todd Bowles, because he represents the diversity this university  is all about and  proudly rocks the Temple colors and has a winning head-coaching record in the NFL, should be named the next Temple coach if it's between him and Rhule. I think it might go to Matt Rhule , though.

Lembo and Cristobal have "home run" power while Bowles and Rhule, at best, are gap hitters and it's more likely that Bowles or Rhule will strike out or pop up than the other two guys
Getting information from inside the walls of Temple athletics is almost impossible.
Bill Bradshaw runs a tight ship and that approach has navigated Temple through some troubled waters in the big-time college football world.
I'm OK with that because of the nice ports this trip has taken Temple fans of their major sports.
He hired "the most underrated head coach in college basketball" in his old baseball infield mate at LaSalle, Fran Dunphy.
He hired a program-builder without peer in Al Golden who lifted the Temple football program off the scrap heap and into respectability.
Love him or leave him (cough, leave him), Steve Addazio was able to talk his way into two high-profile jobs after Florida and was able to take Golden's talent and win Temple its first bowl game in 30 years.
Addazio might have done Temple a huge favor by leaving after this  4-7 disaster.
That's 3 for 3 and the best Bradshaw hit at LaSalle was .312, so I've got to like him better as an AD than a lead-off hitter.
Bradshaw's track record is good, so I'm OK with his stealth methods.
The latest news is that Temple fans may have to wait until next week to learn of a new coach.
In the meantime, all we can do is read between the scraps of information we're able to get out of Broad Street.
Reading the tea leaves, as it were.
We've learned that early last week Bradshaw called a current NFL and former Temple player and asked him who he would chose between Matt Rhule and Mark D'Onofrio, two former Temple coaches.
The player said without a doubt Rhule.
That was before Eagles' defensive coordinator Todd Bowles entered the picture and I'm told Bowles is now considered a very serious candidate.
Former Florida International University coach Mario Cristobal already interviewed, as did current Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. No confirmed status on two great head coaches already available, Dave Clawson of Bowling Green or Pete Lembo of Ball State.
My choices are Lembo first, Clawson second and Cristobal third simply because they have taken FBS teams to bowls as head coaches. They would remove all the guesswork about how they will do at Temple simply because they've done it as a head coach before.
I'm thinking, though, that Temple will hire someone like Rhule or Bowles because this delay speaks more to Rhule and Bowles finishing their NFL games this week. If you are into conspiracy theories, and I'm not, you might guess the delay might have something to do with new Temple president Dr. Neil D. Theobald, an Indiana guy, flying out to the Hoosier state to try to convince either Colts' head coach Bruce Arians or Lembo to take the job. Arians might win the Super Bowl, so that's not happening but I would gladly take Lembo instead.
Borrowing a phrase from Facebook friend Chris "Mad Dog" Russo "gun to my head" Bowles gets the job. (I wrote this Thursday afternoon and still believe Todd should get the job over Matt Rhule or Mark D'Onofrio for a multitude of reasons.) The reasoning will be that Temple is looking for stability in the position above all and Bowles will beat out Rhule based on his small sampling (2-1 record) as an NFL head coach. Plus, he has OWL in the middle of his name and the marketing people love that kind of stuff.
That said, I'd rather see either Lembo or Cristobal sitting there at the presser on Monday. To use a baseball phrase Bradshaw might understand, Lembo and Cristobal have "home run" power while Bowles and Rhule, at best, are gap hitters and it's more likely that Bowles or Rhule will strike out or pop up than the other two guys.
That would make it 3 for 4 for Bradshaw.
Good enough?
Yes, in baseball, but maybe not athletic administration.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Subbuteo poster, 1983

Nothing could be more guaranteed to brighten up a young child’s bedroom wall than a Subbuteo poster. It’s been proven scientifically, probably. By the time this masterpiece came out in 1983, the masters of the flick-to-kick revolution had been annually publishing posters and catalogues for decades, each with its own distinctive graphics and identity.

The premise, as ever, was a simple one: to show off the myriad teams and accessories available to buy for the avid collector. Here, those same teams could be seen surrounding the big football motif; row upon row of colourful sporting soldiers, marching (as best they could when their feet were glued to a hemisphere) across this parade of printed perfection.

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As is always the case, it’s the vast array of team strips that captivate the idle dreamer. Chances are you wouldn’t end up buying many of them, but that’s neither here nor there. This was a chance to wonder at the well-established kit designs we all knew and their exotic-looking counterparts. Who in their right minds, for instance, wore the pink-purple strip with a white chevroned shoulder panel on the shirt, numbered 341? What sort of team wore the white shirts with a big black plus sign, numbered 91? And just who was it that prescribed the increased medication for the designer of kit 83, probably the only one featuring two parallel slanted stripes on only one side of the shirt?

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These questions and many more were prompted by the endless gawping and gazing on the part of the Subbuteo fan, yet this wasn’t a confusing landscape to find oneself in back in the day. This was an entertaining education in the art of football kit design. Look carefully and you’ll find Coventry’s ‘Talbot’ kit (378) – banned from being shown on TV, remember – and a series of funky NASL outfits (540 – 560). Then there were the teams from Brazil, Argentina, Europe and South Africa.

But that was just the front of the poster. Turn it over and there you’d find two full listings (one alphabetic, the other numeric) to help you identify which team wore which kit. This time, instead of the designs being exotic, it was the names of the teams that sent the mind racing. The West German clubs alone sound bizarre in a modern-day perspective; who knows how strange they sounded then. Has anyone ever heard of Wormatia Worms, Kickers Offenbach or SpVgg Bayreuth? Thought not…

As for the big football on the front, there were all the usual bits and pieces on show to make your Subbuteo collection that little bit more special. The two stand-out items for me, however, are the Skills Trainer and the Team Carrying Case. I wanted the former SO badly when I was a kid. The very thought of practicing my shooting by flicking the ball through those obviously-way-too-small holes seemed like Subbuteo nirvana to me, let alone dribbling around the miniature plastic cones.

As for the beautifully designed carry case, even my juvenile self saw through the initial allure of this one. The clear cover on a green plastic tray capable of housing two teams for transportation looked amazing when I was 12, but how would I carry my other 16 teams with me? I had the answer in the form of an old carry case designed for holding LP’s. It was far bigger and could contain my scoreboard, TV Tower and lots more besides. It even had a handle.

All of which goes to prove that where Subbuteo was concerned, it was best to suspend your awareness of practicality, even if you were at such a young age. Design was the thing to appreciate, whether you were dealing with a brightly painted team of players, or a poster showing you all the things your heart desired.

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Click for larger version