At 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Al Golden walked into a meeting room at Edberg-Olson Hall to tell his Temple football players that he had accepted the coaching job at Miami.

The news was not a complete surprise to many of the Owls, who had heard the rumors and seen Internet postings about the possibility.

"They were silent," said a source who was at the meeting. "Al said his piece. He said, 'I love you guys, and I love this place. And I want to thank you.' "

Mark D'Onofrio, who is headed to Miami with Golden after serving as Temple's defensive coordinator, also spoke during the 10-minute meeting. D'Onofrio had the title of assistant head coach for the last three seasons.

"He said, 'Guys, I know there are a lot of emotions, but is there anybody here who thinks Al didn't give his all to the program?' " said the source. "If you feel like Al gave his everything, you will look him in the eye, shake his hand, and say thank you.' "

After Golden and D'Onofrio were finished, they left the room. Golden stood in the hallway as athletic director Bill Bradshaw talked to the team for about five minutes.

"Bill told them that they had lost a great coach, and that he was going to get another great coach," the source said. "He told them he was going to do it as fast as he could, and that a lot of great candidates would want to take the job."

As the players left the room, they walked by Golden. There were hugs and handshakes.

The source said the Owls had not been so composed a week earlier when they learned that they had not been invited to a bowl game after going 8-4.

Temple played in the EagleBank Bowl last year in Washington, losing to UCLA, 30-21, to finish 9-4.

The Owls didn't help themselves in a bid for a bowl this year, losing their last two games after taking control in the Mid-American Conference East Division.

Temple and fellow MAC squad Western Michigan (6-6) were the only bowl-eligible teams to miss out.

"The team was supposed to practice at noon, and there was to be a meeting about the bowl game before that," the source said. "The kids were all dressed for practice. Al came in and said, 'Guys, we're done.' The kids were like, 'No way!' They were in shock. Some of the seniors were crying. It's been a rough couple of weeks. When this happened with Al, it was like 'OK, what else can come now?' "

Among the candidates to succeed Golden is Matt Rhule, the Owls' offensive coordinator for the last three years. Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit, and Sean McDonnell of New Hampshire are also believed to be in the mix.

The latest name to surface is Frank Cignetti, the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh this season. Cignetti, 45, has been an assistant coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints, and the San Francisco 49ers.

Pitt has a new head coach, Michael Haywood, and Cignetti could be looking for a job.

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