Coaches using Temple football as stepping stone comes with program’s success

Coaches like Geoff Collins have left for Power Five schools after short stints with the Owls, but only because they had success at Temple.

Former Temple coach Geoff Collins speaks at a press conference on Aug. 2 at Edberg-Olson Hall. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Geoff Collins chose to leave Temple University to lead Georgia Tech last week. That makes him the fourth football coach to leave Temple since 2010.

In other words, he’s the fourth coach to use Temple as a short stop on their way to coaching a Power Five school.

At his introductory press conference, Collins called the Georgia Tech job his “dream job” and something he has desired for 22 years.

Temple is a stepping-stone school, where coaches dreaming of taking a stop before landing their dream, big-league jobs. While this can be frustrating for fans, it’s the cost of having a winning program. Temple’s coaches get offered jobs because other schools see the success they’re having here.

Since 2009, Temple has been bowl eligible in eight of the past 10 seasons. Four different coaches — Collins, Matt Rhule, Steve Addazio and Al Golden — have led Temple to bowl games in that span.

Because the American Athletic Conference isn’t in the Power Five, there is almost no opportunity for Temple or other schools in the conference to compete for a national championship, much less win one. Just ask Central Florida, which went undefeated in the 2017 and 2018 seasons but hasn’t received a spot in the College Football Playoff once.

When a coach leaves, it might seem like betrayal. But there is little to blame these coaches for. The money, better opportunity to win on a national level and in the case of Collins — a chance to return to past stomping grounds — are appealing.

In 2016, Temple made a good hire in Collins, a Southeastern Conference defensive coordinator who received nominations for the Broyles Award, an annual honor given to the nation’s top assistant coach, at three different schools.

A candidate without that national recognition might have stayed longer, but that is counterproductive to maintaining a winning program.

And nationally, coaches tend to have short tenures. The average Football Bowl Subdivision coach’s tenure is 3.8 years, Business Insider reported last year.

So the reality is, Temple might have to live with the fact coaches are not going to stay if the Owls hire strong candidates and continue their success.

“Coaching, at the end of the day, is a business,” redshirt-freshman cornerback Christian Braswell told the Temple News. “People are always trying to take their game to the next level and get better and better. At the end of the day, they gotta worry about their family, so you can’t get mad about things like that.”

As long as the culture and the institution of the football program stay the same, not too many are going to complain about the revolving door that Temple football has suddenly become.

It is better to have a coaching carousel and have a winning program, like Temple, than to keep a coach around for a long time with mixed results.

Group of Five schools have to get used to Power Five schools targeting their coaches. But a coaching change doesn’t necessarily mean a team can’t be successful in the following season.

UCF has won 25 straight games the past two seasons with two different coaches. Temple’s last losing season came in 2013, Rhule’s first year.

Paul Palmer, a former Temple running back who color commentates Temple’s radio broadcasts, believes the program has been used as a launching pad for Power Five coaching gigs, but he noted that Temple has been a winning program with each of the past four coaches.

“Whether people want to admit it or not, it’s a good program,” Palmer told The Temple News on Friday. “Now, it may not be financially what other places can offer, but those other places that are offering aren’t winning like we’re winning.”

“I feel good about the fact that we are winning and we continue to win,” he added. “And although you can look at all of the changes that have gone on with the coaches, we’ve still won.”

When Rhule left for Baylor, the Owls’ winning did not stop. They have been to four consecutive bowl games and went a total of 15-10 under Collins’ direction, hardly missing a beat.

In Collins’s first season, the Owls went 6-6 before defeating Florida International University in the Gasparilla Bowl. This season, the Owls won two more regular-season games and will play Duke University in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27.

Redshirt-sophomore defensive end Quincy Roche, who is awaiting the hiring of his third coach, said the coaching turnover has pros and cons.

“Is it a stepping-stone school? I guess you could say that, but as I said, the players, we don’t really worry about that,” he told The Temple News. “We just worry about playing, showing up every day and giving it all we got. At the end of the day, throughout all of the coaching changes, the culture doesn’t change. The players will make this school what it is.”

Instead of selling itself on a coach, Temple has to sell itself as a program that’s developing a culture and can win no matter who is leading the team.

“We had a good football team, even coming in, we were talented when coach Collins came,” junior linebacker Sam Franklin said. “So I feel like we shouldn’t have to transfer out. I feel like we should stick it out for the last year and really build this foundation because I feel like we can do something special next year.”

Evan Easterling contributed reporting.

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