Where will Temple football coach, Al Golden, coach next year?
Rutgers fans ask themselves, "Is it time to punch the 'Golden' Ticket?"
Maryland fans ponder if they waited a year too long to offer Al Golden.
Minnesota fans wonder if Al Golden is willing to restore a Big 10 program.
Penn State fans wonder if Al Golden is the man to replace Joe Paterno, or JoPa to those who love the Nittany Lions.
Al Golden took over a Temple football program that has long been considered the worst Division 1A (FBS) program in the nation. Temple football was so bad, and the athletic department so poorly run, that Temple is the only team to ever be kicked out of a BCS conference when the Big East asked the Owls to leave following the 2004 season.
Temple football has not won a bowl game since the 1970's and suffers from horrific student and alumni fan apathy. Temple failed to win 5 games in any season from 1990 through 2006, a stunning display of failure.
However, if you filled out a college football bowl pool last year, you may have been shocked to see the Temple Owls v. UCLA Bruins in the Eaglebank Bowl in Washington DC. That's right, Temple won some games last year. And many place the credit with Mr. Al Golden.
Al Golden is a 1991 graduate of Penn State who played one season for the New England Patriots (before they were good). He began his coaching career as an offensive coordinator at Red Bank Catholic, a New Jersey high school not too far from Rutgers. He entered the college ranks at the University of Virginia, had a brief stint at Boston College, returned to his alma mater for a season in 2000 before heading to Virginia for 5 years to act as the Wahoos' defensive coordinator.
Golden was named the head coach of Temple in December 2005, replacing Bobby Wallace and became the second youngest head coach in college football. Golden's record at Temple is an uninspiring 21-30, but one must realize that Temple was 3-31 the three years prior to Golden's arrival. Golden has been nothing short of a miracle worker at Temple, changing the losing culture and putting crooked numbers in the win column.
Al Golden was a hot name in the coaching carousel last spring. But apparently one good MAC season at Temple is not quite enough to earn a ticket out of North Philadelphia. Golden was rumored to have interviewed at every job opening that would have him, but was unable to land an offer from a BCS school.
One thing that Al Golden did establish last off-season: He was willing to leave, he just needed a school that wanted him. That should change this off-season, as Temple continues to win and establish themselves as more than just a fluke. Al Golden led Temple to its best win in ages two weeks ago when Temple defeated Big East power, UConn.
So if things are going so well for Temple, why would Golden want out? For starters, Temple is not in a BCS conference. And after their last stint in a BCS conference, the Big East from 1990-2004, no one can realistically expect Temple to be invited to another BCS conference any time soon. Temple was kicked out of the Big East due to poor attendance, non-competitiveness, and a lack of commitment to the football program by university officials. These problems still exist today.
While the competitiveness may be improving, the attendance issue still remains. Temple's only games where they draw respectable crowds are when opposing teams with strong local fan bases such as Penn State or Villanova pack Lincoln Financial Field.
One also must wonder how much support university officials can realistically provide to the program. As mentioned in a prior Bleacher Report article, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/482222-message-board-banter-turns-ugly-between-temple-and-army-football-fans, Temple University is a state funded school, receiving $189 mill from taxpayers every year. Temple then turns around and spends $10 mill in Direct Institutional Support on athletics, much of which goes to fund a football program that goes unsupported by fans and alumni. One has to question how much longer the taxpayers of Pennsylvania will tolerate this use of state funds.
While Al Golden may sincerely love Temple and appreciate the fans who support the program, the fact remains that Temple is not, nor will it ever be, a destination job. Al Golden will be moving on, and this journalist's money is on him moving on before the end of the 2011 school year.
- TJ Corbs, tackling the hard hitting issues of the Northeast Corridor.