It was a week ago that Al Golden decided to leave Temple for greener pastures, a day everybody who is connected to Owls football knew was coming.

He officially took over as head coach at Miami on Monday, but Golden left his mark on a Temple program that was at the very bottom of Division I when he took over in 2005.

The Owls went 8-4 this year after going 9-4 in '09 for the program's first winning season since 1990.

But the Owls dropped their last two games this season and fell short of the Mid-American Conference championship, which they were favored to win. Temple was then shut out of the postseason after playing in the EagleBank Bowl last year.

"When I hired Al, I remarked that there would be a year when seven wins would not be a good season," Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said recently. "A lot of people scoffed at that. And here we are with eight wins, and we're not necessarily overwhelmed with eight wins."

Bradshaw and his staff are on a national search for Golden's replacement. And Temple football is now a far cry from what Bradshaw had to offer Golden five years ago.

The program had just been given a reprieve after the university considered dropping the sport. The Owls were coming off an 0-11 season. The team grade-point average was low and the academic support staff needed beefing up. Golden had only 54 scholarships to work with - 85 is the maximum - heading into his first season in 2006 because of academic problems, dropouts, and other casualties.

But as Bradshaw searches for Golden's successor, Temple football is on solid ground on and off the field. The Owls will lose eight starters, and 16 seniors in all. And they are all graduating.

Golden, who met with the Temple players last Sunday night to inform them of his departure, had a 26-34 record as coach of the Owls. After going 4-16 in his first 20 games at Temple, Golden was 15-6 in his last 21.

Among those with interest in taking the baton from Golden is Matt Rhule, who served as the Owls' offensive coordinator the last three years. A favorite of the players, the 35-year-old Rhule is believed to have interviewed for the position. A source with knowledge of the situation said Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio also is being considered.

Other names to surface are Bill Cubit of Western Michigan and Sean McDonnell of New Hampshire.

Cubit, 57, has been at Western Michigan for six seasons. He signed a contract in 2008 to remain as Broncos coach through 2013. Cubit grew up in Sharon Hill, played quarterback and wide receiver at Delaware, and owns a master's degree from St. Joseph's.

Cubit, who has worked as an assistant at Stanford, Rutgers, Missouri, Swarthmore, Central Florida, Florida, and Akron, is 40-33 at Western Michigan. In 2007, he led the Broncos to their first bowl bid in 18 years. He had inherited a squad that went 1-10 in 2004, and he was named MAC coach of the year after guiding Western Michigan to a 7-4 finish in 2005.

As head coach at Widener between 1992 and '96, Cubit went 34-18-1 and was a two-time Middle Atlantic Conference coach of the year.

The 55-year-old McDonnell completed his 12th season at New Hampshire with an 88-57 record. His Wildcats have made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs seven straight years.

Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.