Let’s try a little thought experiment: See if you can forget about the last month of Temple football history. See if you can let the new man in charge, Rod Carey, head coach of Northern Illinois University, take over as if the Owls had picked him in December.
It’s hard, admittedly. The Last Guy, Coach “Bloom Where You’re Planted,” Mr. “I’m Here Until I Get My Dream Job,” Mr. 18 Days, made an impression. Forget him, though. (Except he planted long enough to poach Temple’s strength coach — you should remember that.)
My opinion on the new guy? It’s all right not to have an opinion. If you wanted a current head coach, you got one. If you wanted a head coach who knows how to win a league title, you absolutely got one. If you wanted a coach with regional ties, you didn’t get your guy. If you wanted someone with ties to Temple, nope, not your guy. Just understand, whatever your opinion, you could turn out to be off.
Carey is a Midwesterner who did all his stations of the cross in the Midwest. He played center at Indiana, which happens to be the same football program that produced Temple athletic director Pat Kraft some years later. But this can’t be a buddy thing or Carey would have been here before. This is a “we need a solid guy who knows what he’s doing” hire.
In six seasons in charge at Northern Illinois, Carey won two Mid-American titles, four division titles. He lost all his bowl games, but bowl games are weird, the playing field not always even. We’re not putting too much into that.
We do think that if you can consistently win in DeKalb, Illinois, the challenges of Temple might not faze you. The MAC is legit football. Ask Temple, since Buffalo got past Temple last season but couldn’t get past Northern Illinois in the league title game.
So this is the right guy? Again, we have no idea. Carey will have time to prove himself. We had no idea if Matt Rhule was the right guy. He was, and then some. Geoff Collins was fine while he was here — he actually grew on me — but two years weren’t long enough, since that growth was required.
There’s no sizzle here? Fine. A guy such as John Beilein wasn’t sizzle as he moved up the basketball ladder. As it turned out, he is more than filet mignon. Vegetarians love him, too. Let’s wait and see.
Talking after his Temple introduction, Carey said he had a good conversation with Rhule about this job. Rhule’s advice for working in Philadelphia? Be yourself. No problem, Carey said Friday inside the Liacouras Center. He wouldn’t know how to be anyone else.
He comes off ... like a football coach.
"The people who are tough don’t talk about it,'' Carey said. “They just do it.”
Also: “You know what’s really fun, hitting other people hard and winning. That’s what’s really fun.”
If a condition of Carey’s taking the job was that he had to keep a number of Temple staffers, then he’s lucky to have them if they’re staying. You might have read that Rhule wasn’t interested in becoming the new Jets coach because he wasn’t going to have the final say on his staff. If that was the case, Rhule was right to walk away in recent days, even if the NFL is his ultimate destination.
This is different. If you don’t want Fran Brown, Ed Foley, Adam DiMichele and Gabe Infante on your staff, that would be a disqualifier to me, indicating that you’re too much of a control freak to realize these guys will get you players and know a thing or two about how to coach them. It sounds as if Carey easily passes that test. Whether they all stay might be up to them, but expect some or all to be around. Also, expect some Northern Illinois assistants to be here, too.