Let’s state this up front: New Temple head football coach Rod Carey has the full right to name his own coaching staff. That’s the way it has to work, any sport.
We all have the full right to judge it, day one.
Not having Ed Foley on his staff? This is a mistake. If the Rod Carey era were a football game, the other team just ran back the opening kickoff. Plenty of time to recover, but an obvious error right off the bat.
Whatever else Foley meant to Temple, he was a fine special-teams coach. So Carey’s decision to remove him from that role, offering only a non-staff role, to bring in his own guy -- we’ll all judge the X and O merits of it later.
Right now, we’ll say Ed Foley had been more than a special-teams coach at Temple.
After the news came out on Owlscoop.com that Foley was heading to Baylor for a non-coaching job on Matt Rhule’s staff, former Temple kicker Brandon McManus, now with the Denver Broncos, tweeted, “Ed Foley was everything [Temple football] embodied. He is the true heart and soul of 10th and Diamond.”
You saw that when Foley, acting as interim head coach after Geoff Collins left for Georgia Tech, talked before the Independence Bowl.
“I hope that we play well, but I know that we’ll play hard," Foley said several days before the game at a podium, in a little speech that went pretty viral. “... I hope that you see the finest group of young men that’s ever been through Shreveport. Guys, I love this team, I love these players, and I think you will, too.”
Of course, speeches don’t win football games, and Temple didn’t win that Independence Bowl. Twice, Foley was interim coach for bowl games and Temple lost each time, after Rhule left and after Collins left.
My argument, then and now: Foley didn’t lose those games; Rhule and Collins did. The system is broken, allowing and even demanding that head coaches leave before their seasons are over. It’s ridiculous, but that’s a different subject.
Since Al Golden left for Miami, name a coach other than Rhule who had a bigger impact on Temple football. I can’t.
When I posed that question this weekend on Twitter, some Temple fans had a legitimate response: Fran Brown. Maybe that’s right, except Brown was gone in recent years, with Rhule at Baylor. Still, Brown was very impactful, a crucial recruiter for so many recent Temple greats. It’s a big, big deal that Brown is back on the staff.
Temple did the right thing after Collins left, ensuring that Brown was coming back, that Foley and a couple of others would have jobs. Again, it makes sense that Carey can choose his own coaches. If he doesn’t win enough football games, nothing else matters.
But Temple also is a different place. Putting fannies in the seats is difficult under the best of circumstances. We’re not arguing that Foley put fannies in the seats. Just that he established a connection with Temple fans, the diehards, who are as diehard as fans anywhere else. They care. They saw he cared.
More important, as new coaches came in without ties to this area, one reason high school coaches gave them the benefit of the doubt was because Ed Foley vouched for them. Collins saw this, saw the value in Foley -- to the point, according to a source, that Foley was contacted about a possible opening on the Georgia Tech staff when Collins left for there.
Now, Foley will be at Baylor with Rhule. If he’d wanted to be in Waco, he could have gone there immediately with Rhule. He wanted to be at Temple, though.
“I really didn’t want to leave," Foley told The Inquirer’s Marc Narducci on Saturday in an interview. “I was going to be something like director of player personnel.”
That wasn’t coaching. He won’t be coaching right now at Baylor, either. He’ll be an analyst, Rhule’s coaching staff was full.
“I don’t have an official title but will be working with somebody I like and trust," Foley said.
Foley had been a coach under Golden, had been taken off the field for an operations role under Steve Addazio, then returned to the field under Rhule. He’d also coached tight ends and the offensive line.