For the second time in three seasons, Temple University will search for a new football coach before its bowl game.
Geoff Collins has returned to his home state after accepting the head coaching position at Georgia Tech on Friday.
“We have immediately launched a national search for a new head coach,” Athletic Director Patrick Kraft wrote in a release on Friday. “We will be exhaustive and deliberate in the process yet move as quickly as possible.”
Special teams and tight ends coach Ed Foley will serve as the interim coach when Temple plays Duke University at the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27, Kraft wrote.
The Owls are solely focused on “kicking Duke’s a–,” Foley told the Temple News on Friday.
The Owls are ready to handle the same situation they faced in December 2016 when former Temple coach Matt Rhule left for Baylor University before the Military Bowl against Wake Forest University.
The Owls lost to the Demon Deacons, 34-26, but Temple will be better prepared for its bowl this season because the entire staff staying in Philadelphia to prepare for the bowl game, Foley said.
When Rhule left in 2016, graduate assistants ran some of the bowl practices while members of the defensive staff, including former defensive coordinator Phil Snow, began transitioning to Baylor.
“There was like waves of assistant coaches that were in and out, which made it difficult for the continuity of practice and for the players.” Foley said.
Collins had the choice to immediately bring assistants to Georgia Tech, Foley said, but he opted to allow the entire staff to stay at Temple for early signing day on Dec. 19 and to prepare the Owls for Duke.
Collins could still add current Temple assistants to his staff. But for now, the assistants will stay in Philadelphia.
“I met with my staff first thing in the morning. …I was like, ‘Everybody in this room is going to coach in the bowl game. We are going to do right by these players,’” Collins said during his introductory press conference. “I am not going to have these players worry about this worry about who’s the next coach, where is this coach going. Everything that I want to do in this transition is for the players.”
Could the next coach have Temple ties?
Foley has elected to put his name in for consideration for the top job in his 11th season as a member of Temple’s coaching staff. He didn’t interview for the top spot when Rhule, Al Golden and Steve Addazio left for Power Five schools.
“I would expect I have the opportunity to interview for the head job,” Foley said. “I am going to go after it with the intention of getting it.”
Francis Brown, who is Baylor’s assistant head coach and defensive backs coach, is expected to be a candidate for the job, the Inquirer reported. Before following Rhule to Baylor, Brown coached at Temple from 2011-16.
On Monday, during festivities for the College Football Hall of Fame inductions in New York, Brown approached former Temple running back and current radio color analyst Paul Palmer to ask for his support, Palmer told The Temple News.
Palmer, who became the first former Temple player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, said Rhule made a similar request back in 2010 when Golden left for the University of Miami. Temple ended up hiring Addazio as Golden’s replacement.
On Twitter, former players have been advocating for Brown. Former Temple and current Tennessee Titans defensive end Sharif Finch tweeted that Temple should “bring him home.” Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young, who played for the Owls from 2012-15, and New York Jets wideout Robby Anderson, who led Temple in receiving in 2015, also tweeted in favor of Brown.
New York Giants safety Sean Chandler, who played for Temple from 2014-17, will donate $20,000 to the university if Brown is hired, he tweeted. San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Jullian Taylor, who recorded 11 tackles for loss in his final season at Temple in 2017, also pledged on Twitter to make a donation.
Current players who’ve tweeted support for Temple hiring Brown include graduate student wide receiver Ventell Bryant and redshirt-junior defensive end Dana Levine.
Foley has also received votes of confidence on Twitter from Derek Dennis, who played on the offensive line at Temple from 2007-11 and is now in the Canadian Football League, and Zamel Johnson, who played defensive back from 2010-13.
Players took to Twitter to voice support for potential coaching candidates when Rhule left for Baylor back in 2016, using #LetItSnow to advocate for the Owls’ former defensive coordinator to become the head coach.
An early list of possible outside candidates from ESPN includes University at Buffalo coach Lance Leipold, who beat Temple, 36-29, in September for one of the Bulls’ program-record 10 wins this season.
“I hope they seriously consider Fran Brown, really consider him,” Palmer said. “I hope they seriously consider Ed Foley. I think that they both are extremely familiar with the program and they both want to be here. …And to me, as an ex-ballplayer, as somebody who cares about Temple football, I hope that we get someone that wants to be here, not someone that wants to be here and cut their teeth and go somewhere else.”