Temple plays Wake Forest in the Military Bowl today at 3:30 on ESPN.
By Michael Donovan
The last time Temple came to Annapolis on Dec. 3, players were hoisting the American Athletic Conference championship trophy after pummeling Navy, 34-10, on the Midshipmen’s home field (above).
It was the Owls’ first conference title since 1967, pushing Temple to 10-2 to match a program single-season record for wins.
“We’re comfortable there. It’s like a home game,” said senior defensive tackle Hasson Reddick, the Owls’ leader in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (21.5). “Our fans aren’t more than two and a half hours away, so going out there knowing that we’ll have a good crowd, we’ll have support there, it’ll make it that much easier for us to play. We’re not going into a hostile area.”
Reddick and his teammates enjoyed the aftermath of their AAC triumph with then-coach Matt Rhule. Three days later, Rhule left for Baylor, and offensive coordinator Ed Foley became interim coach for the bowl game.
A week after Rhule’s departure, Temple officials introduced Geoff Collins as the new head coach. The former Florida defensive coordinator will take over full responsibilities immediately following the Military Bowl in which Temple also played in 2009 when it was known as the EagleBank Bowl and contested at RFK Stadium.
Collins has been around the team since accepting the job, mostly observing rather than in a coaching capacity.
“We’re going business as usual in terms of the game plan, the coaches who are here,” Foley said. “So to have Geoff, it’s been great. That’s only going to enhance the way the kids practice. He’s been great. He’s been nothing but a help in terms of not trying to interfere. He’s almost trying too hard not to interfere. I’m saying, ‘Geoff, c’mon out and get around us. Whatever you want to do has been good.’ ”
Foley has had a much more lengthy association with Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson. The close friends have known one another for nearly 30 years since both were graduate assistants at SUNY Albany in 1989. Foley was in charge of the offensive line and Clawson the quarterbacks and running backs.
When Clawson became head coach at Fordham in 1999, he hired Foley as offensive coordinator.
In his third season at Wake Forest (6-6), Clawson has doubled the Demon Deacons’ win total from last year. He also has Wake Forest, which finished tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division, in a bowl game for the third time in five seasons.
It’s Clawson’s second appearance in the Military Bowl after directing Bowling Green there in 2012.
“You’ve got to appreciate the opportunity,” Clawson said. “We want this to be something that happens every year. Historically it hasn’t been, and so going to bowl for this football team, that was a big goal this year. “
The Demon Deacons will be playing in their first game since the school released findings from an internal investigation implicating then radio play-by-play announcer Tommy Elrod for revealing details about the team’s upcoming game plans to opponents. Elrod subsequently was fired and banned from Wake Forest’s athletic facilities.
Among the programs cited for accepting leaked information were Virginia Tech and Louisville. The ACC since has fined both schools $25,000 for their involvement.