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New Temple coach Geoff Collins makes good first impression

Geoff Collins had a reputation for being enthusiastic, tough and likable and all three traits were displayed at his opening press conference as Temple's new head football coach.

Geoff Collins came across as the self-assured, confident, tough, but likable person he has been depicted as during his opening news conference as Temple's new football coach Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Collins is replacing his good friend, the immensely popular Matt Rhule, who agreed to become Baylor's head coach on Dec. 6.

This is the first head coaching job for Collins, 45, who has 23 years experience as a college coach, including the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Florida. According to a source, he signed a five-year deal at approximately $2 million per year.

Over the last six years, Collins had risen in the assistant coaching ranks, serving two seasons as co-defensive coordinator at Mississippi State, another two there as the defensive coordinator and then the last two at Florida.

Collins was asked after the news conference if he felt he might never get a head coaching shot.

"No, absolutely not," he replied. "I knew I was going to be a head coach."

He explained that he didn't want to be a head coach for the sake of running a program. Before jumping into the head coaching waters, Collins said he had to make sure it was the right fit.

"The big thing for me is that I wanted it to be the right one," he said. "The last four years, I have been offered, been approached, things like that, the last two weeks I have been approached, but the big thing is the right job and this is the right job for me."

Collins' enthusiasm was infectious when he addressed the team Wednesday, one player said.

"The meeting was good. He has a lot of energy, is really excited about what he is doing, where he is going, where he is coming from," said backup quarterback Logan Marchi, a redshirt freshman. "He knows Coach Rhule, so we have that correlation, so we are looking to see that carry over."

Collins said he loves one of the most difficult aspects of the job: recruiting. He said he can't wait to get on the recruiting trail.

He won't be coaching Florida when the Gators meet Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2. In the interim, he'll be watching Temple as the Owls prepare for the Military Bowl against Wake Forest on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md.

Acting head coach Ed Foley, who was praised by Temple president Richard Englert for keeping the team together during the coaching change, will guide the Owls in the bowl game.

It was too early for Collins to talk about the makeup of his coaching staff, but he will have plenty of options.

"When I entered the press conference, there were 463 text messages," he said. Collins estimated that many were not only well-wishers but potential job seekers.

Most if not all of Temple's defensive coaching staff is expected to join Rhule at Baylor. Two assistants, Francis Brown (defensive backs) and Mike Siravo (linebackers), have already gone to Baylor, although all Temple assistants are expected to coach in the Military Bowl.

Collins wouldn't say for sure whether he would relinquish calling the defensive plays, but it sounds as if he understands that would be difficult for a first-year coach.

"The big focus for me is to be the head coach," he said.

Throughout his stops, he has made a favorable impression on many, including Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who was with Collins at Mississippi State.

"Geoff will bring some juice. … He's going to be good for them. He's a good coach. … He's going to bring some swag."

There will be no shortage of juice.

"Coach Collins is excited all the time, lot of energy," Florida defensive back Marcus Maye said in an email. "Having a coach like that makes you want to do the same thing."

The entire hiring process took only a week. That will benefit Temple as the Owls still have time until high school players can sign letters of intent on Feb. 1.

"I wanted to make sure we got the right person," said Temple's director of athletics, Patrick Kraft. "I didn't know how long it would take."

In conducting interviews, Kraft said he was impressed by how much Collins cared about his players, very similar to his predecessor Rhule.

Rhule and Collins are the best of friends, having worked together on two staffs at Albright and Western Carolina. The two talked several times during the last week.

Collins also said he is excited about the prospect of an on-campus stadium that Temple is attempting to get done. He said he would do anything to aid the cause.

He sees many similarities between his new team and his style. "The things that have been built here, the way it has been built here, fit my personality and fit my coaching style," he said.

It's a style that can be described with one word: Boom!  He wasn't called the Minister of Mayhem at Mississippi State for having a timid approach.

He will try to take that hard-hat attitude and make it work in a blue-collar town.