First, let’s get this out of the way.
Everyone involved in the Manny Diaz at Temple era has acted like it’s a big surprise move that Miami head coach Mark Richt left down there. Diaz, Richt’s defensive coordinator, is officially the new 'Canes coach, so the Manny Diaz at Temple era lasted 18 days.
But if Richt hadn’t left now, and if Miami had another sub-par season, Richt would have been gone next season. Did anyone at Temple ask Manny Diaz what he would do if Richt left Miami in the near future? If they didn’t, it was because they already knew what Diaz would do, and he’s done it.
Now, let’s get this out of the way: Anyone who signed a letter of intent with Temple in December, after being recruited by Geoff Collins and his staff -- remember Geoff Collins? He used to coach Temple, almost to the end of his second season -- and if those high school seniors chose to stick with their own “commitment” after Diaz came aboard, they have to be let out of their own letter of intent. If this doesn’t happen, it’s a scandal, period. Anyone who is against this shouldn’t be working in higher education.
Let’s also get this out of the way: Anyone who thought Temple players with proven pro futures should have ignored their own health and played for the glory of the Cherry and White in the (Insert Sponsor Here) Independence Bowl, you owe them an apology. Heck, the Owls weren’t even wearing their Cherry and White in the (Insert Sponsor Here) Independence Bowl. New spiffy gray uniforms were designed by (Insert Apparel Company) for the occasion. It could have been any team playing out there.
Let’s get this out of the way: Constant coaching turnover negatively impacts football teams. Who could believe it? Twice in the last three years, the head football coach departed for greener pastures, not coaching to the end of the season. Twice, Temple laid a bowl egg. To be clear, interim coach Ed Foley is 0.0000 responsible for those eggs. For starters, an offensive/special teams coach isn’t responsible for a second-half defensive breakdown. And you don’t blame the substitute teacher for the unruly class.
The fact is, Foley represented Temple so well, shining a massive positive national spotlight on the school, Temple owes him way more than he owes the school. But by making him interim twice, Temple may have eliminated Foley from the head-coaching candidate pool, since it’s hard to announce the guy who is 0-2 in bowls as the next big thing.
Speaking of owing, let’s get this out of the way: Diaz and Miami reportedly owe Temple $4 million for his 18 days of service. That’s the buyout. That’s college sports today. Just don’t act like that’s actual found money, since Temple loses millions at football.
Also, St. Joseph’s Prep coach Gabe Infante left his job to join the Diaz staff. Temple and Diaz both owe Infante a job. Both would be lucky to have him. Just a little sub-plot.
In his statement announcing the egg now on Temple’s face, Pat Kraft got two things wrong and one thing very right. Pay attention to the one thing very right.
Kraft got it a little wrong wishing Diaz the best as he returns home. The man just embarrassed Temple. Don’t wish him well. But that’s nit-picking. Kraft is a polite man. We get it.
Here’s what Kraft got really wrong: “We have already launched a national search …”
No, no, no. That’s the wrong message. Enough with the national searches. You should know your next man already. Delvon Randall, a Temple star who just finished up, did a great job of explaining the mind-set of Temple players when he tweeted Sunday night, “So who is Temple’s new head coach …” Randall then added a head-slap emoji. Then he wrote, “somebody coach my boys and stay loyal to them please …” Randall then added a 100 emoji, keeping it real.
The day Diaz was announced, I asked Diaz what kind of minimum time commitment he could offer Temple players.
“You offer them your best every day,’’ Diaz said. “Because everything else is out of your control, you know. My theory is, bloom where you’re planted.”
He said a little more, but that was the thought. Bloom where you’re planted. No guarantees. At least give the man points for honesty, if you can’t quite call it integrity.
I asked Kraft at that news conference for his thoughts on the same subject. He said, “Where we are right now, this is a wonderful problem to have. I will take that every single day … If I’m sitting there hugging Coach Diaz on the stage at the Fiesta Bowl and he tells me, ‘My dream job is open. I’m going to go.’ Go get it, and we’ll be right back here bringing the next best coach to Temple.”
So there was no Fiesta Bowl, no hug, just a bad loss in the (Insert Sponsor Here) Independence Bowl and a long-distance call from Miami.
As for the rest of it, about the next coach, now pay attention to what Kraft also said in his Sunday night statement. This is the part that matters.
“Our student-athletes deserve excellence and stability and we are searching for the coach who can deliver on both.”
That’s dead on. You can’t bring in the next Collins or Diaz and say he’s the best man for the job and it’s a great day for the university and (insert next coach’s bio and enthusiasm here). It’s no longer first down. It’s third-and-long and there is full-scale pressure on this decision.
Temple made a great move bringing former Owls assistant Fran Brown back from Baylor as a Diaz assistant. If the thought was that Brown, who apparently interviewed impressively for the head job himself, needed a little more seasoning but might be the coach in waiting, those thoughts still might all be true, but those were first-down thoughts. We’ve argued either Brown or Foley would be a fine hire on any down. Particularly now, on third-and-long.