Temple football coach Steve Addazio shocked the Owls faithful and left at least one recruit confused and angry Tuesday by accepting the head coaching position at Boston College after just two seasons on Broad Street.
Although many concerns will surface due to his abrupt departure, the most immediate one to the team, its fans and its surprised recruits is who will succeed Addazio? And will he be able to convince those recruits, angry or not, to stay committed to Temple?
Addazio, who just months ago said he would be at Temple for the long haul, was not available for comment and did not return repeated phone calls.
"Everybody knows," Temple senior running back Matt Brown said, "that coaching is a business."
New York Giants assistant offensive line coach Matt Rhule and former longtime Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley could be among the top candidates. In a statement, the university said it will begin a national search immediately.
Both Rhule and Bradley interviewed for Temple's top job in 2010 when Addazio won the coaching position vacated by Al Golden, who left for Miami. Rhule was the co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach at Temple before joining the Tom Coughlin's Giants NFL staff in March. He had various coaching positions during his six seasons as an Owls assistant, five of which he served under Golden.
According to multiple sources, Rhule is interested in the job. And there are many former Owls who want him to get it.
"I think he will be their best bet for continuity," said Derek Dennis, a former Temple offensive lineman and now a practice squad player with the Chicago Bears. "I think a lot of former players want him. Coach Rhule has a good rapport with a lot of players. He's a great coach. I think he deserves an opportunity."
Owls athletic director Bill Bradshaw declined to name candidates for the position and said he remained optimistic about the football program despite Addazio's departure. Addazio went 13-11, 4-7 this season, in two seasons with the Owls.
Specifically, Bradshaw lauded Temple's $10 million renovation of its football practice facility, Edberg-Olson Hall, and its return to the Big East Conference this past season. The Owls were ejected from the Big East after the 2004 season due to failures on the field and at the ticket office.
"We were in a far different place when Steve Addazio came in, and we are in a farther place now since he's been there," Bradshaw said. "So we are optimistic. I've already been contacted by between 16 and 20 candidates [or their representatives], which is an all-time record in my career for any position this soon."
Bradshaw said the candidates range from Division I college head coaches to NFL offensive and defensive coordinators. He did not offer a time frame for hiring a new coach.
"The No. 1 goal is getting the best fit for Temple," Bradshaw said. "Someone who wants to be at Temple, believes in the mission, understands the position and the Big East, that can recruit in the Northeast."
The first job for that coach will be to keep the 16 commitments for the Class of 2013 already on board. On Tuesday evening, Montour High School defensive tackle Tyler Haddock said the news left him unsure about his college future. He said he backed out of a commitment to Kent State in June to give his pledge to Temple.
In an odd twist, Haddock said he was spending time with Owls defensive line coach Sean Cronin at his high school Tuesday afternoon, and everything seemed fine. But five minutes after Cronin left, Haddock's world was rocked when he heard rumors that Addazio had accepted the Boston College job.
"He probably didn't even know," Haddock said, referring to Cronin. "I don't know what I am supposed do right now. I left Kent State for [Addazio] because I knew he was that guy that could change the program. And now, he left.
"Like, come on!"
Addazio met with the Temple players at 5 p.m. to inform them of the news. Multiple sources said that Addazio told the team he accepted the position as a way to better take care of his family. They said the meeting lasted just five minutes. Shortly afterward, Addazio packed up his belongings and left Edberg-Olson Hall.
At least one of the players seemed to think that Addazio has betrayed them.
"Coaches n females r the two things you can't trust in life," Owls junior cornerback Abdul Smith tweeted.