Temple University introduced former Northern Illinois University coach Rod Carey as the new leader of its football program on Friday afternoon at the Liacouras Center.
Carey and the university agreed to a six-year deal at about $2 million per year with a buyout of $10 million in the first two years, Athletics Committee chair J. William Mills III told The Temple News.
“We wanted someone who truly understood North Philadelphia, truly understood who we were, someone who wanted to be here, someone who understood how special this institution is and how great this program really is,” athletic director Patrick Kraft said.
“I’ve said, ‘No,’ other times to other jobs when I was at NIU,” Carey said. “This is the right time and right place, and I am super excited about that.”
Carey replaces Manny Diaz, who spent 18 days as Temple’s coach after being hired last month. Diaz, the University of Miami’s former defensive coordinator, returned to the Hurricanes to become their head coach after Mark Richt retired.
Geoff Collins, Diaz’s predecessor, compiled a 15-10 record and led Temple to bowl appearances in each of his two seasons before moving on to Georgia Tech last month. In 2018, the Owls’ only American Athletic Conference loss came to Central Florida, which finished No. 11 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Unlike Diaz and Collins, who came to Temple as Power Five defensive coordinators, Carey has previous experience as a head coach, which was important during the search, Mills said.
“When you’re a coordinator, you’re responsible for your little world, and now all the sudden you’ve got to coordinate everything,” Mills said. “I think [Carey] is used to organizing a big staff.”
“He’s traditionally won eight or nine games a year, and I would imagine we’re on that kind of track again,” he added. “He’s got a good team in the locker room this year, too. So I think we’ll be very successful.”
In six full seasons from 2013-18, Carey only had a losing record once. The Huskies posted a 52-30 record and won four division championships under Carey. In 2018, Carey won his second Mid-American Conference title with NIU.
Carey started the 2012 season at NIU as its offensive line coach, then became the offensive coordinator after the first game of the season. He became the head coach before the Huskies’ Jan. 1, 2013, Orange Bowl loss to Florida State University.
Carey’s Huskies ranked as high as No. 16 in the AP poll during his first full season.
Bowl success eluded Carey, however, as NIU went 0-6 during his tenure. Kraft said bowl games are hard to judge, and he looked at Carey’s overall body of work and the consistency of NIU’s program.
“To be really honest, I think every bowl game situation is different,” Kraft said. “I look at, ‘Well, he got there.’ And he’s won the conference championship. He had a great game this year against Buffalo. So no, that didn’t really faze me. I’d rather you get in there. I look forward to him winning his first game with us and winning his first bowl game.”
Kraft received more interest in the coaching position during the second search than when Collins left, he said.
After Collins’ and Diaz’s departures, Temple received a combined $6.5 million in buyouts from Georgia Tech and Miami, according to reports from Yahoo’s Pete Thamel and Watch Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. The buyouts, however, did not influence the search, Mills said.
Between the two coaching searches, Temple interviewed 12-18 candidates, Mills said. Coaches who interviewed during the first cycle remained on Temple’s radar, but they didn’t interview a second time, Mills added.
Because MAC teams like NIU sometimes play on weekdays like Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Carey had the chance to watch other teams play on Saturdays. He often watched Temple’s teams under former coach Matt Rhule because the Owls’ staff had former NIU assistants like wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson.
“This is the team I wanted to watch, and it was so fun to watch how they played and what they did,” Carey said. “And that to me, when this opportunity came up, I was excited about it at the start…because it looked like how we play. And that got me really excited in a big-time way.”