Al Golden joined the Temple football program with the intention of not just building a house of cards, but a house of bricks.
The five-year Owls coach was inducted into Temple Athletics’ Hall of Fame on Friday night for his efforts in the turnaround of the football program from 2005-2010. Eleven other individuals that make up the 2020 Hall of Fame class and the 1992 NCAA Champion fencing team were also honored. Afia Brown (women’s track), Joe Morelli (football) and the late Mik Kilgore (men’s basketball) were included among the group.
Each member of the 2020 class will be honored during halftime of Temple’s homecoming matchup against Memphis on Saturday. Todd McNair (football) and Nicole Ross Burris (women’s lacrosse) both deferred their induction ceremonies to a later date.
“I remember just 10 minutes into the interview, I wrote on a legal pad, ‘This is our guy. Period,’” said former Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw, who hired Golden in 2005. “He wasn’t only trying to impress, he was saying, ‘I’m here to take this job.’”
Bradshaw, who was also inducted Friday evening, interviewed Golden for the position one day after Temple’s 51-3 road loss to Virginia at a little hotel room in Charlottesville. On Dec. 6, he was named the Owls’ 24th head coach.
He took over at a time when Temple football had been punted out of the Big East conference the year prior, moving to the Mid-American Conference East Division, and the university was on the verge of losing the program.
“If we have a legacy, it’s that we did something that’s really hard to do – that is to start from scratch,” Golden said. “Whether it’s a reduction of scholarships or the longest losing streak in the country…. We were dead last in Division I at that time.”
In Golden’s first three seasons at the helm, the Owls finished 1-11 in 2006, 4-8 in 2007 and 5-7 in 2008. Despite a losing record, Golden knew his plan would take time and patience to grow the program to his satisfaction.
“He absolutely didn’t take any shortcuts, and young coaches often you’ll see them wanting to win right away,” Bradshaw said. “The wins and losses —that’s so important— but Al said we’re gonna build it the right way. And we’re going to build it out of brick.”
In Golden’s fourth year at the helm, the Owls had their first winning season since 1990 with a 9-3 record, which was Temple’s best record since 1979.
Even though Golden received offers from UCLA and Cincinnati for head coaching positions, he wanted to stay in Temple’s program to watch the team he built come to fruition.
He was named Mid-American coach of the year in 2009 and finished his final season with the Owls in 2010 with an 8-4 record.
Under Golden, Temple had the largest number of players to receive national recognition. And his legacy can best be described, according to Bradshaw, as the man who “turned Temple football around.”
He left the Owls’ program in 2010 for the University of Miami, where he spent five years as head coach. Golden is now the Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker coach, with a stop in between as the tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions.
“[Being inducted] is a great honor and I’m humbled by it,” Golden said. “But I think it’s more a reflection of a group of young men who answered the call at a time when Temple needed them. If [the players, staff] and athletic administration aren’t in place and working together, then I’m definitely not here 15 years later.”
Golden was succeeded by the likes of Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins before Rod Carey took the reins. In the years that followed the recent Temple athletics Hall of Fame inductee, the program boasted six bowl games and a conference championship in 2016.
His mark on the program was paramount.
When Golden looks back at his time with the program, he hopes the core values of how the team developed will forever be remembered in the Temple community.