In less than a week’s time, interim Temple football coach Ed Foley became an internet sensation, applied for the head coaching position, and began running practices for the Owls' Independence Bowl game with Duke on Dec. 27 in Shreveport, La.
Foley didn’t get the head coaching job that went to Manny Diaz, but the 51-year-old Cherry Hill East graduate hopes to stay at Temple and it’s very likely that he could remain and work under his fifth head coach.
Foley, who wears his emotion on his Temple sweatshirt, gave an indication Monday during a media availability after practice that he indeed could be staying put.
“We didn’t finalize anything, but things are headed in the right direction,,” said Foley, who was also named interim coach for the bowl game two years ago when Matt Rhule departed for Baylor and was replaced by Geoff Collins. “We talked about recruiting and the bowl game and agreed to talk about [his job] after we catch a breath.”
Right now there is no time for those breaths. The early signing period is Wednesday. Temple originally had 24 commitments and is attempting to keep as many as possible.
According to a person familiar with Temple’s recruiting, so far, about 12 of those players are expected to honor their commitments while several others are still in the picture and even more could sign in February if certain academic progress occurs for recruits.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking about recruits until after they have signed a letter of intent, but for Foley, between recruiting and preparing for the bowl, it has been a whirlwind.
There is one simple reason that Foley, who came to Temple in 2008, would like to stay.
“It’s about being around our guys,” he said. “... The culture here and the way they treat me and teach each other, you can be yourself and don’t have to worry about whether I can say something to the guys.”
Talking about his players made Foley an internet sensation last Monday during a news conference in Shreveport promoting the game.
He became animated while professing how much he enjoyed coaching the Temple players. Foley told the people of Shreveport how excited he was to be there and said Temple “is going to be one of the greatest teams you’ve ever had here; I’ll promise you that.” Several websites reposted the video.
Another theme for Foley is allowing the winningest senior class in Temple football history to go out with another W. Temple is 8-4 this season and the seniors have won 35 games. The last time he was interim coach, the Owls lost, 34-26, to Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27, 2016.
His goal is simple: “Getting [the seniors] out of here with that good taste in their mouth,” he said.
Foley is also Temple’s special-teams and tight ends coach, The special teams are ranked statistically among the best in the country. The Owls have blocked five kicks and have six special-teams touchdowns.
He has had options to leave Temple over the last decade. A few years ago, he turned down a job as an assistant coach at a Big Ten school.
Foley has inspired great loyalty among his players, including senior all-conference running back Ryquell Armstead, a graduate of Millville High.
“Our relationship has always been, well, just South Jersey guys, and Foley is a guy you want to play for,” Armstead said. “I would never leave him hanging out to dry and I can’t wait to play for that guy.”
Quarterback Anthony Russo, who missed Temple’s 57-7 win over UConn with a cast on his right hand, has been practicing and is ready for the bowl. ... Temple said that strength and conditioning coach David Feeley will return, which the Inquirer and Daily News reported last week. ... Francis Brown, who will rejoin Temple as an assistant after spending the last two years at Baylor, was at the Owls' practice facility Monday. He won’t coach in Baylor’s bowl game.