LAST DEC. 17, Temple, with first-year coach Steve Addazio, was winning its first bowl game in 32 years, and second in program history. In 1 year, much has changed.
Addazio just left to go to Boston College. The Owls got back into the Big East, which now is no longer looking like a BCS conference. And on Monday, athletic director Bill Bradshaw will hold a press conference to introduce his next coach.
The process took a little less than 2 weeks. There was no shortage of interested possibilities.
Not shockingly, the candiate that emerged was Matt Rhule, who spent six seasons here as an offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator under Al Golden and Addazio before leaving last offseason to become an offensive line assistant with the New York Giants. He was very much in the mix when Addazio got hired. This time, Tom Coughlin reached out on his behalf. It will be a popular choice among many segments of the Temple family, most notably the players, some of whom are going to be playing for their third coach in 4 years.
Not only is Rhule well-liked, he's well-respected. His wife still works for the university. So he'll embrace everything Temple, much like basketball coach Fran Dunphy. Never a minor consideration.
Rhule was offered the job on Friday, and a deal was reached Saturday. The other finalist was Mark D'Onofrio, who was the defensive coordinator for Golden. He was offered the job 2 years ago but decided to follow his good friend to Miami.
Rhule was in Atlanta on Sunday, where the Giants lost to the Falcons, 34-0.
Sources have confirmed that he intends to finish out the season with the Giants while he also works at Temple to start piecing things together. Bill O'Brien did the same last year during the Patriots' run to the Super Bowl after he accepted the Penn State position. And North Jersey is way closer to North Broad than New England is to State College.
Next season the Owls, who went 4-7 while playing a ton of sophomores and freshmen, also will be entering a new era as far as the Big East goes. The conference is splitting into two divisions. Syracuse and Pitt will be gone, and Rutgers is leaving soon. The Owls, who open at Notre Dame, are in the West with Boise State, San Diego State, Memphis, SMU and Houston.
The Owls won 26 games from 2009-11, yet never got to a MAC title game or even beat a MAC team that finished with a winning record. This year it did win two Big East games after being picked to finish last. There's every reason to think the program can be competitive in the reconfigued landscape. Perhaps quickly.