Kyle Callahan, a drum major of Temple’s Diamond Marching Band, described the feelings of “chaos” he and other band members felt Tuesday morning when they heard that football coach Matt Rhule had left Temple for the same position at Baylor University.
To Callahan and others who actively participate in the gameday ritual, the news is a huge shock.
Rhule agreed to a six-year contract at the end of last year, and enjoyed another historic-in-wins season this year, capturing an American Athletic Conference championship on Saturday.
“He has turned us into a ranked team. He’s done back to back bowl games, done wonders for this school,” Callahan said, adding that everything he knows about football is thanks to Rhule. Callahan joined Temple’s band the same year Rhule took over as coach.
“Would it have been better if he told us? Probably not,” he added. “It does feel like a giant slap to the face, but there was no good way to tell us.”
Band Director Matthew Brunner said while previous football coaches respected and saw the value of the band, Rhule brought the programs together. Brunner came to Temple in 2008, while Al Golden headed the football program, and said while there was great respect from Golden, Rhule made sure the band was valued.
“There was such a respect for both organizations,” Brunner said, adding that Rhule made sure the band was solidified as part of the game day tradition.
He explained that Rhule asked the band to come to some of the football practices and made sure that recordings of the band would play at away games.
Callahan said band members are empathizing with the players’ feelings, noting that “they must be devastated.”
Cherry Crusade members also expressed shock on social mediums at Rhule’s departure. But many are still planning on supporting the team when the Owls play in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.
Josh Forman, a sophomore risk management and insurance major said he had an inkling Rhule would leave eventually, but didn’t think it would happen after another historic season this year.
Forman saw Rhule as a staple at the university, and recalled the way he would come talk to the crusade — especially those who painted themselves with “Temple Rhules” — before each game.
The coach even promised to a semester’s worth of textbooks for a few dedicated members.
“In the short term it sucks, and there’s a lot of emotions,” Forman said of Rhule’s departure. “But I think we’ll look back at these four years and realize they were really great.”
Paige Gross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @By_paigegross