So the new guy at Temple is a salesman. Geoff Collins, next head football coach, Temple University, brought up his childhood love of the Broad Street Bullies and his father's love of John Chaney during Wednesday's official strike-up-the-band Owls introduction. Collins was charming and self-deprecating, said all the smart things, didn't overpromise.
Once this guy starts talking, you'll keep listening.
He has the resumé. Collins was defensive coordinator at Florida the last couple of years, and the Gators produced. Same at Mississippi State before then, when Collins picked up his "Minister of Mayhem" nickname. Some more interesting lines on the resumé: a 2006 season as recruiting coordinator at Georgia Tech and 2007 as director of player personnel at Alabama. A guy who understands the ins and outs of recruiting is a huge plus at Temple.
Within his profession, Collins has a reputation for that. He sold his Can of Swag to recruits at Mississippi State, and produced to some an artist's rendering of one. Collins was the artist. Nothing fancy. He's not the high and mighty type.
As for recruiting new territory, Collins said he's prepared for that. He told a story about how he went to Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary back when he was a graduate assistant asking to be involved in recruiting. O'Leary mostly ignored him. Collins persisted. O'Leary told him they concentrated on six states. "You have the other 44," Collins said O'Leary told him. "I took that and I ran with it. We signed five kids from those 44 states. I think relationships, being a good person, being relentless, knowing the university, knowing what you're selling, is everything in recruiting."
"Very, very high energy, does a great job of motivating players," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said over the phone. "He's always got his swag points and juice points, all the different motivational ways of getting guys to play hard. They have fun playing hard."
The transition from coordinator to head coach is never automatic, but Mullen, a Drexel Hill native and Ursinus grad himself, said that transition "will be easy" for Collins, saying also that Collins instinctively understood how Mississippi State was different from Florida and that how you win at Temple is different from that.
Collins met his players Wednesday morning before the news conference.
"It was a sacred meeting, I don't want to say too much," Collins said.
What's the difference between a good coordinator and a good head coach?
"I just think the belief system," Collins said. "It's never been about scheme for me. It's always been about culture, it's been about philosophy, it's been about how you play the game, and your approach to it on a weekly basis."
He also said, "I've been trained for this my whole life."
How much different was the defensive scheme he used at Florida from the one he used at Mississippi State?
"Almost a 180," Collins said. "You go in there, you see the situation, you watch the tape, you get to know the kids, what they do good, what they could do better, and put them in a position to be successful. I think a lot of coaches get caught up in systems, they get caught up in schemes. That's the downfall."
As Collins talks, he can occasionally get going a little much, by the way. I can completely believe Collins' father, a middle school basketball coach, loved John Chaney. Let's guess, however, that dad probably wasn't inserting Chaney into a pivotal conversation with his seventh-grade son, since Chaney was just a few years into his own Owls tenure at the time. But it was a good personal tale, the rest of it ringing all true, and good for this man, now 45 years old, to fully understand the importance of Chaney to the school's athletic history. (Chaney himself never let the facts get in the way of a good tale.)
Like most football coaches, Collins, who grew up in Atlanta, has lived a nomadic professional existence. He's never spent more than four years at any of his 10 collegiate stops. He's clearly gotten the "how long will you stay" question before, and his answer is, he's all about right now.
That's the business, in case you hadn't noticed. Matt Rhule didn't just leave for Baylor. He reportedly could have gone to Oregon. Steve Addazio didn't just bolt after two seasons to Boston College. He went to Boston College after a 4-7 season. Al Golden before him left for Miami. Right now, Temple is the opposite of a coaching dead end. It's been an on ramp.
This salesmanship by the new man obviously has to be backed up, leadership proven and then translated to the field, but if Temple gets four uptick years out of Geoff Collins, the school can't complain. Call it Rhule's rule.