After the initial excitement of learning that I was accepted to Temple in 2003 had subsided, I felt myself falling into a daily conversation regarding my future.
Once many of my neighbors, coaches and other acquaintances had found out where I was attending college, almost every one of them followed with a statement that sounded a little like this:
“Oh, so you’re going up to school with John Chaney, huh? That guy is crazy but you should have fun.”
I’m sure many of you had similar encounters when you first announced that you were going to be a Temple Owl.
While sitting at Chaney’s retirement press conference last week, however, those words my friends, coaches and the like had uttered were constantly ringing through my head. His departure is not only going to shorten these reoccurring discussions, but it also leaves the university without a face.
Although there is a host of famous individuals who call Philly home, the list of famous Temple alumnae is considerably shorter. Sure, there is longtime comedian Bill Cosby, but how often is he seen strolling through our campus or the grandstands of the Liacouras Center? Then there’s former America’s Funniest Home Video host and stand-up comedian Bob Saget, but has anyone seen him since the turn of the century?
With President David Adamany retiring in June, his name can be crossed off this list. Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw has built quite a name for himself within the city, but when is the last time fans actually backed an administrative type?
Current Mayor and Temple alumnus John Street has enough on his plate, as he tries to balance the city’s budget and curb violence.
On the court, Temple has fielded notable NBA players like Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie. But those two are in the twilight of their pro careers and are barely hanging on to their notoriety within the league.
With all those names crossed out, actor Tom Sizemore, Democratic Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Fumo and Jimmy Pop, lead singer of the band the Blood Hound Gang, are among those who remain.
Take your pick.
So as the men’s basketball team prepares to write the next chapter in its history, so must the university. The next coach will immediately be thrown into the spotlight, and looked upon to reverse the postseason trend that involves the National Invitational Tournament, which could also be affectionately known as the Not In the Tournament curse.
Much has been said regarding the several candidates in contention to be Chaney’s successor, which could be one of the scariest jobs on the planet.
Many see the job as only for those who understand its importance. Temple’s former coach (it sure is weird saying that) has done so much for the community. His role in the city of Philadelphia is one that any “out-of-towner” would have a difficult time doing. The next coach would have to come and win the hearts of the Philly and Temple faithful first.
But until that time comes, when Temple’s Athletic Department announces who will be it’s next men’s basketball coach, the face of Temple University may already be in someone else’s pocket.
Women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley has quickly built a coaching resume for herself. Only in her sixth season as head coach, Staley’s list of accomplishments stands on its own.
In today’s world, wins speak volumes and Staley is screaming to be Temple’s next face.
At Temple since the 2000-01 season, Staley, 35, has led the Owls to four NCAA Tournaments.
In 2002 Temple won its first women’s Atlantic Ten Conference tournament title. Two years later, Staley led the Owls to the top of the A-10 East standings with a 14-2 record and Temple’s second A-10 Tournament title.
Last season she led the Owls to a perfect 16-0 finish in the conference and a 28-4 overall record, en route to a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 28 wins were a program single-season record.
This season the women’s basketball team captured its third consecutive A-10 crown and yet another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
A dynasty could be unfolding before our eyes. It may very well be a second coming of Tennessee’s famed coach Pat Summitt.
The team is the brightest star in Temple’s cloudy athletic program that became even more overcast last week with Chaney’s announcement.
Regardless, this is a big decision that faces the powers that be. Maybe a committee of the city’s brightest minds needs to be comprised to ensure Temple’s return to its former status as the ‘it’ school in Philadelphia.
Or maybe an oracle needs to be consulted.
Whatever happens, this choice is a big decision. Maybe it’s not as big as paper or plastic, but it may have an effect on whether Temple will deliver itself back to Division I prominence or further into D-I obscurity.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.