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Temple Welcomes Back Rhule

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Temple regressed in 2012, its first season back in the Big East, but new head coach Matt Rhule still benefits from perhaps its most successful run in program history under Steve Addazio and Al Golden. Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images.
Temple regressed in 2012, its first season back in the Big East, but new head coach Matt Rhule still benefits from perhaps its most successful run in program history under Steve Addazio and Al Golden. Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images.

Steve Addazio, in just two seasons as Temple University’s head football coach, did something that only one other leader in program history accomplished: win a bowl game.

His 2011 Owls defeated the University of Wyoming, 37-15, in the New Mexico Bowl for the school’s first bowl victory in 32 years. Wayne Hardin, who guided the program to a 1979 victory in the Garden State Bowl, is the other.

Addazio’s predecessor, Al Golden, also took Temple to a bowl game during the ’09 season, but lost to UCLA, 31-20, in the ’09 Eagle Bank Bowl. Addazio (Boston College) and Golden (University of Miami) have since moved on to the bigger spotlight of the Atlantic Coast Conference. These two coaches will forever be part of an elite club of Temple coaches who took the team to a bowl game, as the Owls have only made four appearances in school history. Pop Warner took the team to the 1935 Sugar Bowl against Tulane.

With back-to-back coaches making rare bowl appearances, and Temple once again being members of the Big East Conference (soon to be the American Athletic Conference), the program is back on the national map. New head coach Matt Rhule inherits the challenge of building the program’s national image. He brings 15 seasons of coaching experience to the sidelines, including a 2012 stint as the assistant offensive line coach of the NFL's New York Giants.

But Rhule is no stranger to the Owls program as he previously served as an assistant under Golden (joining the staff as defensive line coach in ’06) before moving over to the offensive side of the ball. Two seasons ago, the 15-year coaching veteran held multiple titles on Addazio’s staff, including assistant offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. 

The multi-dimensional coaching résumé will be an asset as Temple prepares for its second season in the new-look conference.

His program opens the season with a nationally-televised Aug. 31 game at Notre Dame. This year, the biggest adjustment will be getting acclimated with unfamiliar foes such as Houston and Southern Methodist. Temple isn’t going to be mentioned in the same conversation as the nation’s top echelon Division-I football programs like Alabama, LSU, USC and others as it doesn’t have the same draw. However, the Owls have finally returned to respectability, earning a return invitation to the same Big East Conference from which they were expelled after the ’04 season. A 14-80 record against conference foes didn’t make for very exciting football. The two recently departed coaches deserve a lot of credit for making Temple football matter again. Golden and Addazio were rewarded for their efforts with jobs at more prominent institutions.

Rhule now has the task of maintaining Temple’s bowl-eligible image that both of his predecessors have recreated. Last season may not have gone according to Addazio’s plan as Temple finished 4-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play, but it was the first year back playing with the big boys. Rhule, a former Penn State University linebacker, knows a little something about playing in bowl games as a player and coach. The former Penn State University linebacker was on the 1995 winning Rose Bowl team that defeated Oregon, 38-20. Penn State earned a bowl invite all four years he was on campus, winning three of them. Add the two rare postseason appearances with the Owls and there is little doubt that Rhule is equipped with that winning instinct needed to keep Temple on the postseason track.  

The multi-dimensional coaching résumé will be an asset as Temple prepares for its second season in the new-look conference.