Well, this was bound to happen. The more games Al Golden would win for the Cherry and White, the more notoriety he would gain in the college football world and it would be only a matter of time before some school from a Bowl Championship Series conference would come calling with more money and fame than Temple can offer.
In this case, it was Miami from the Atlantic Coast Conference that came calling and what Temple is going through isn’t unique.
Some of Temple’s peers in the Mid-American Conference are experiencing the same thing. After going to the MAC Championship on Dec. 3, Northern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill resigned to become the head coach at Minnesota, a Big Ten school. In December of last year, Central Michigan’s Butch Jones resigned just after winning the MAC Championship to become the head coach at Cincinnati, a Big East school. See the trend? Once a coach does well in the MAC, he moves on to the next big gig.
College football is a world of haves and have-nots, and unfortunately Temple is a have-not. As a MAC school that isn’t affiliated with the BCS, Temple has no realistic shot at a national title and no MAC team has ever appeared in a BCS bowl game. The best the Owls can hope for is conference title and a win in a bowl game, be it one of the three bowls that automatically takes a MAC team or elsewhere.
I’m bringing this up because if Temple keeps on winning, there will be other Al Goldens that will bolt for better jobs once they become successful every few years. It’s on athletic director Bill Bradshaw to hire a new coach that can continue what Golden started, be it through an internal hire like defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio or for finding someone else outside the program.
I’m not angry at Golden for leaving. He has every right to move on to a high profile job like Miami after all he’s done. Temple football was a joke for nearly three decades until he showed up and did what four different coaches over a stretch of 23 seasons failed to do: have a winning season.
I’ve covered Temple football for two seasons and I recall meeting him at the team’s media day in August 2009. The first thing I noticed about him was how he would tower over reporters and when he spoke, he held your attention. Throughout my time with him and the team, it was always hard to walk away from an interview or press conference and not be impressed with what he had to say and judging from the results on the field, he knew what he was talking about.
He was always quick to provide an anecdote or an explanation to anything me or other reporters would ask him. One of my fondest memories of him will be when assistant sports editor Kyle Gauss and myself sat with him in his office at the team’s practice facility, where we spent close to 40 minutes discussing the team’s walk-on program. There we saw the inflatable mattress that he kept so he could stay late to game plan or do whatever it was he did to make his team tick. I also felt like we were only beginning to grasp just exactly how brilliant he was as a coach.
Anyone who cares about Temple football should be thankful for the time Golden spent rebuilding the program. For the students currently enrolled, be glad you’re enrolled here at a time where the football team is winning. If by some chance, the Owls and Hurricanes cross paths, don’t boo him.
To me, he’s one of the most important people to come work for Temple in the past 10 years. I appreciate everything he has done for this team and the university. I’m also grateful for how he has treated me and my predecessors at The Temple News. Even though it’s sad to see him leave, I honestly wish him the best.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.