A look at the top candidates for football head coach

Temple University needs to hire a new head football coach after firing Rod Carey.

Alex Odom, a sophomore safety, guards an offensive player during the Owls' game against the United State Naval Academy at Lincoln Financial Stadium on Nov. 27. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Athletic director and vice president Arthur Johnson is leading Temple University football’s search for a new head coach after firing Rod Carey on Nov. 29. 

Carey posted a 12-20 record during his tenure and coached the team to a 3-9 record during the 2021 season.

The next coach will take over a young squad, with redshirt-freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis under center and other prospects with potential across the roster. But, there will have to be a stark culture change to turn the program around.

Here are the potential candidates for Temple football’s head coaching vacancy. 

Stan Drayton:

Drayton, the running backs coach at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of the best coaches for the position in the nation. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, Drayton has coached for 27 years, with experience in the NFL and for premier NCAA FBS teams.

He has some Pennsylvania ties, having coached at Villanova University from 1996-2000 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He also played at Allegheny College in 1993, as a running back. 

Drayton was the running backs coach at the University of Florida in 2006 when they won the BCS National Championship, while averaging 160 rushing yards per game. During tenures at Ohio State University and Texas, he recruited and coached current and future NFL running backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Carlos Hyde and Bijan Robinson. 

Robinson was Drayton’s latest commit in 2020, and became Texas’ second-highest running back commit ever. In 2020, Robinson broke the school record for yards-per-carry average with 8.2 yards per carry. 

Drayton coached for the Chicago Bears from 2015-16, where as running backs coach he helped  Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford have successful rookie seasons. 

Drayton’s recruiting branch is extensive, with connections throughout the nation. 

Drayton has direct ties to Johnson, a former Texas assistant athletic director, and with connections to the area as well, he makes a good candidate for the Owls. 

Elijah Robinson:

Robinson, the defensive line coach at Texas A&M University, coached at Temple from 2014-16 under former head coach Matt Rhule. He is from Camden, New Jersey. 

Robinson joined the Aggies staff in 2018 and had an immediate impact on the defensive line as they finished second in the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards allowed.

In 2020, Robinson helped the Aggies finish with a top-10 ranking in the nation for total yards allowed, and the defense finished second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. 

As a coach for Temple in 2016, his defense allowed the second fewest rushing yards in the American Athletic Conference and was ranked No. 25 in the country. He also catalyzed Temple’s staple win over Penn State University that season, where the Owls recorded 10.0 sacks.

Robinson was the college coach for NFL players like Haason Reddick and Matt Ioannidis from Temple, and Justin Madubuike and Daylon Mack at Texas A&M. He also coached four more All-AAC selections at Temple. 

Robinson is strictly a defensive-minded coach, so finding offensive coordinators to act as play callers may be a key component of his success.

Coaching during Temple’s best years alongside Rhule may give Robinson the motivation to help Temple return to its glory days from 2016. 

Robinson’s ties to the area, and his wealth of experience coaching for some of the country’s biggest teams, make him a viable candidate for the position. 

Sean Desai:

Desai, the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, coached Temple for five seasons from 2006-10. He also received his doctorate in higher education from Temple in 2008.

Desai joined the Bears in 2012 as a special teams assistant and quality control assistant for the defensive backs and linebackers, roles he held through 2018. 

As the safeties coach from 2019-20, Desai can be credited for the success of safeties Eddie Jackson and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, spearheading a group that finished second in the NFC in pass defense in 2019.

Desai has more than nine seasons of experience at the NFL level, and also served as an assistant coach for Temple, Boston College and the University of Miami during his career as a college coach.

Every group Desai has coached has seen success so far, including this season’s Bears’ defense, which ranks among the league-leaders in sacks, pass defense and yards given up per game.

Desai is the NFL’s first defensive coordinator of Indian-American descent. His ties to the area, having received his doctoral degree from Temple while serving as a graduate assistant, makes him a potential candidate. 

Like the other candidates, Desai has never served as a collegiate head coach, but he has the best resume for Johnson’s team to look at. 

Chris Wiesehan:

Wiesehan, Georgia Tech’s tight ends coach and offensive special teams coordinator, coached at Temple for five seasons, including two under Geoff Collins. 

Wiesehan followed Collins to Georgia Tech in 2019 and went on to coach Tyler Davis, the program’s highest drafted tight end ever. The 2021 season was his third with Georgia Tech, and his 27th year coaching college football.

At Temple in 2018, Wiesehan was nominated for the Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach after his fourth stint as the team’s offensive line coach. He also coached running backs for a season under Matt Rhule.

He has experience coaching almost every offensive group, with multiple players drafted from each position under his tutelage. Coaching for more than 11 college football programs and a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wiesehan is well-versed in offensive styles and playbooks.

During his sole season as Temple’s running backs coach, Wiesehan saw two players — Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead — eclipse 900 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, the only team in the country to have more than one player do so. 

He saw some of his best years at Temple, with more than eight of his players drafted, and several of the linemen he coached earning All-Conference honors, including second-round NFL pick of the Buffalo Bills, Dion Dawkins. 

As another candidate with ties to Temple and knowledge on the offensive side of the ball, Wiesehan provides a strong case for the job, even though he has never served as an offensive coordinator in its entirety.

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