The words poured out in a torrent. Temple's new football coach began his introductory news conference not by talking about his playbook but quoting Temple's founder: He who would be great anywhere, must first be great in his own Philadelphia.
The new man said he wasn't ready to be Temple's coach two years ago when he first interviewed for the Owls head-coaching job. "I'm ready now," said Matt Rhule, 37.
He talked some about his six years at Temple under Al Golden and Steve Addazio, before he got his Ph.D in football working this season for the New York Giants. He talked about first showing up at 10th and Diamond after a 10-hour drive, asking Golden for a job.
"I knew I was going to fight for it," Rhule said about the head job at Temple, which opened two weeks ago. "Not just apply for it - fight for it."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin called on his behalf, but really, that couldn't have been the difference-maker. The decision-makers at Temple knew Rhule better than Coughlin did. His wife, a nutritionist, still works at the school. She wouldn't let him sell their house in Philadelphia, Rhule said.
"We were driving down the [Jersey] Turnpike today, and my wife is saying, "I love Philadelphia, I can't wait to get to Philadelphia,' " Rhule said. "We hit Girard [Avenue] and everyone was double-parked and she was turning and cars were all over and she was cussing every Philadelphia driver there is."
His pregnant wife, Julie, shook her head. Her husband was on a roll in a full room. He told about John Chaney talking to the Owls football team. "I'm going to give you the PG version," he said.
There were a lot of Temple alumni in the room, including board members. A school or team can't really win a news conference with a hire. That's an overrated cliché. But Rhule certainly won the news conference in that he owned it. He eventually got around to football.
"At the end of the day, you believe in running the football, and everyone wants to run the football - but you win at the end, you win championships, you win in crunch time with your ability to throw the football," Rhule said.
A man in the crowd said, "Amen." An Owls player sitting at the news conference smiled at the man's comment.
In some ways, Rhule is Nick Foles. He's got skills and smarts, but he's a third-round pick, not a first-rounder. Can third-rounders make the Pro Bowl? They can and they do. But who knows?
Did anybody know if Al Golden was the right guy when Temple hired a Virginia assistant? He was another third-rounder. For these jobs, you're not just hiring an X-and-O man but the head of a little corporate enterprise. Rhule sounds well-equipped for that part of it.
The new man also wanted to make it clear that just because players went to bat for him, it wasn't because he was soft, that discipline is part of the job as an assistant or head coach.
Asked about the uncertainty that Temple now faces with all the realigning conferences, and how much the school would be spending going forward, Rhule said, "They talked about it in great detail, from the president on down. . . . I would say the level of commitment to our future was overwhelming."
Compared to when he first showed up in Golden's first year, Rhule said, there is no comparison.
"It's just a different era," Rhule said. "Everything we need is right there."
So what if the Big East is unrecognizable? Rhule remembers when the Owls were cobbling together a schedule as an independent, grabbing guaranteed losses for the paycheck, hoping to get into the Mid-American Conference.
Of course, you're not hiring a guy because he has realistic expectations, and it's great that everybody likes Rhule. This only works if he wins football games. Given the current uncertainties, a lot depends on that if Temple wants to even dream of someday winning the realignment lottery.
"I'm going to push you like crazy," Rhule told the football players in the room, familiar faces, "and we're going to win together."