Change of Philosophy

Change of Philosophy

When Temple football coach Matt Rhule announced his 2014 recruiting class last week, he broke the mold of what had been the Owls' footprint for most of the last decade. This year's class still has a strong local presence but they also picked players from Connecticut, Colorado, Florida and Mississippi and brought in a strong class from Western Pennsylvania.

When Temple football coach Matt Rhule announced his 2014 recruiting class last week, he broke the mold of what had been the Owls' footprint for most of the last decade.

When Al Golden took over in 2006 – with Rhule on his staff – he declared the Owls would focus their recruiting almost solely on the area within a couple hundred miles of campus. Using the philosophy, Temple turned around one of the worst programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision to win 26 games from 2009-2011.

This year's class still has a strong local presence – offensive lineman Aaron Ruff could be the best prospect in the class and he's a Philadelphia recruit, while the Owls continue to have a strong presence in South Jersey – but they also picked players from Connecticut, Colorado, Florida and Mississippi and brought in a strong class from Western Pennsylvania.

"The Temple T really travels well for us," said Rhule. "For the first time since I've been here, we took the Temple brand across the country and what we found is the University as a whole became a national brand, whether it's football, basketball or the University itself.

"Whether we went to Colorado or Florida, people recognize and respect Temple. We went to parents who didn't know much about Temple and went back to work and told their co-workers their son was being recruited by Temple, that feedback to us was outstanding. There's pride for our whole University the way people view our program."

The philosophy is partially related to the American Athletic Conference, which has schools in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee. The Owls left the Mid-American Conference and joined the league - then the Big East - in 2012, and since then the American has undergone a dramatic geographical shift.

"It's a little bit of a departure from the past and the model we had when Al we here," admitted Rhule. "We still stayed true to our roots, 13 players from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But with a new conference, new landscape and the ability to travel in conference. … So many people seeing us play, seeing (quarterback) P.J. Walker, (running back) Zaire Williams, Tyler Matakevich, we went a little more national, nine states, three time zones for the first time. For us, we had to do that to compete, while also continuing to serve our state and serve our city."

The class was ranked third in the AAC by scout.com, not too far behind South Florida and Central Florida. Recruiting coordinator Mike Siravo credited technology and the University's commitment to the new philosophy.

"We had support from the athletic department to go out and find kids where we had to find them, fly them in, No. 1," said Siravo, who was on Golden's 2006 staff before leaving for Boston College. "The internet has changed everything, geographical boundaries have been shattered. It's just can you get out and see a kid?

"We wanted to expand our pool of guys as far as we can go and not turn a blind eye to someone who had Temple ties from outside the area or had a connection and wanted to be looked at under the same scrutiny as someone else."

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