Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary for Geoff Collins as Temple football coach, and no time has been as hectic as the last few weeks.
With the new recruiting rules allowing for an early signing period from Dec. 20-22, Collins and his staff have been juggling recruiting work with preparing for the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 21 against Florida International. The game will be played at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Collins looked as if he was seriously short on some sleep when addressing the media Wednesday after practice. What he lacked in shut-eye, he made up for with his trademark enthusiasm.
"It's been a crazy 2 to 2 1/2 weeks since we became bowl-eligible," said Collins, referring to Temple's 43-22 win at Tulsa on Nov. 25.
He said that since then, he has been in several states recruiting, flying around the country before returning to practice last week. He also has continued mixing practices and game planning with recruiting. In fact, after Wednesday's news conference, he was making another home visit.
Collins said that Temple has 26 commitments. NCAA rules prohibit schools from talking about a player until he signs a letter of intent. History suggests that all 26 won't sign, but a person close to the situation said Temple is optimistic about signing most of the players in the early signing period.
The offensive line has been a priority in recruiting, and the Owls are in the running for a number of junior-college linemen.
While recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, a great recruiting tool would be winning the bowl game over an 8-4 FIU team coached by Butch Davis, former head coach of North Carolina, Miami, and the Cleveland Browns.
Collins says there has been no problem concentrating on bowl preparation and recruiting at the same time, although he hasn't been getting as much sleep. The noted early riser was up at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and had a 6:15 a.m. staff meeting. Collins estimated that, by the time the meeting began, he had sent 800 text messages to staff and others, relating to recruiting and bowl-game plans.
"This excites and energizes me," he said. The team seems energized, as well.
Running back Ryquell Armstead, who hasn't been at 100 percent all season but has appeared in all 12 games, looks strong after the rest, Collins said. In addition, the team toughened up by practicing last week in the snow, which players said was a blast.
"We were throwing snowballs, and I hit Coach Collins a few times — I am not going to lie," said Delvon Randall, a first-team all-American Athletic Conference safety.
Randall said Collins returned fire but never hit his target.
Clearly, this is a loose team, one heading to a bowl game for the third consecutive season. And that is a first in Temple history.