Fall coaches: Should they stay or go?

Some programs are fairing well, while others are not.

As we say goodbye to fall sports, it’s time to evaluate the effectiveness of some of the Owls’ leading men and women. Will they be back in 2009, or will they get the pink slip?

Al Golden,

You can’t complain too much about the guy who brought the Owls out of the football graveyard in 2007. Last year, the team went 4-8, a much-needed step forward from previous seasons. But 2008 has been filled with frustration. Five losses have been decided by less than a touchdown, and three times the Owls lost on the final play. The team has lacked discipline and a knockout blow in late-game situations, and that is a direct reflection on Golden. But he’s got plenty of job security and amost likely, a prosperous tenure left here on North Broad Street.
Verdict: Al’s got some work to do, but Temple football needs its passionate leader.

David Jones,
Women’s soccer

In six years of work, Jones has had subpar results. The Owls haven’t even sniffed the postseason, and for a program that began in 1991, there hasn’t been much progress to speak of at all. This year, the Cherry and White went 4-11-4 and were shutout nine times. Will a fresh face bring new life to the women’s soccer team? Probably not, but the players don’t appear to be responding to what Jones has to offer.
Verdict: Jones and coaches had ample time to mold the program into form, but they apparently aren’t much of sculptors.

David MacWilliams,
Men’s soccer

Last season, the Owls flopped to a 5-11-2 finish and lacked much of an offensive threat. This season has been sort of a fairy-tale story. The emergence of junior forward J.T. Noone and junior midfielder Mike Puppolo as scorers led to a trip back to the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament for the first time in four years. MacWilliams did a great job of coaching down the stretch, as he led the Owls to a 6-1-2 conference record. The combination of MacWilliams and the Owls could be perched atop the A-10 for the next few years.
Verdict: At least there is one successful D-Mac in Philadelphia. 2009 will be a big year for the men’s soccer team.

Bob Bertucci,

The 14-year veteran coach has been nothing short of exceptional for the Owls. He has engineered nine 20-plus win seasons and in 2002, reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Nothing surprises or fazes Bertucci, who has been described as an “architect of the game.” With that being said, it makes it harder to believe he can’t solve the riddle of the A-10 West. In the last three seasons, the Owls have gone 0-9 against the “Big 3” of Saint Louis, Dayton and Xavier. Are his tactics getting stale, or are the Cherry and White simply overmatched? He and his team have a shot at redemption in the A-10 Tournament this weekend.
Verdict: Bertucci is an immobile figure for the volleyball team and will surely be back in 2009.

Amanda Janney,
Field hockey

This is certainly an interesting examination. Janney has done a remarkable job getting her team in position for the playoffs the last four years. But, that’s where the problems began. The last two seasons, the Owls have been the higher seed in their opening round match-up and ultimately lost. She also hasn’t tasted the spoils of an elusive A-10 Championship, something that has avoided the Owls since 1994. She deserves credit for her superb winning percentage, but another postseason hiccup could be her last.
Verdict: Janney’s not going anywhere just yet. All these playoff losses have to add up at some point.

While some teams are coming off successful fall 2008 campaigns, others were not so fortunate. Those in the latter grouping may use this offseason to shop around for new coaches. As a whole, Temple Athletics has been impressive, with three of the above mentioned coaches reaching postseason play. For them, 2009 will be about taking that next step and bringing home some hardware.

Anthony Stipa can be reached at anthony.stipa@temple.edu.

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