The 2006 Temple football team was awful. The Owls, operating as a Division I-A independent after the Big East kicked them out for being too bad at football (true story; look it up, kids), went 1-11, which was actually a one game improvement from their 0-11 season in 2005. They scored three points, total, in their first three games, and 10 in their first four. They were shutout in regulation four times in 12 games, and allowed 40 or more nine times, including back-to-back 62-0 losses to Louisville and Minnesota.
But while the team was awful, the coaching staff was stacked. Under first-year head coach Al Golden were longtime FBS defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, current Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, a 27-year-old wide receivers coach named Ryan Day and a little-known defensive line coach named Matt Rhule.
Yahoo‘s Pete Thamel wrote a fabulous story explaining how Day and Rhule went from assistants on a 1-11 team to head coaches that are a combined 18-0 to date this season and while I strongly encourage you to read the entire piece, I thought I’d share this story from 2008. After the Owls rushed for just 72 yards in a 41-38 loss to Kent State. Here’s how Rhule, by then Temple’s offensive coordinator, greeted his offensive line the next week.
Rhule responded by setting up the offensive meeting room like a nightclub, with velvet ropes, a red carpet and wearing full doorman attire. He led the players to their seats with a flashlight and had everything but bottle service. When asked why, Rhule responded that they were in Club 72, mocking the run total. The next week, Temple scored 55 points and the club closed.
“Matt set a great standard as an assistant of how to get involved in your players’ lives to help develop them at a high level,” said Baylor assistant Mike Siravo, who was on the 2006 staff. “It’s the energy he puts into his players that separates him, then and now.”
Day and Rhule spent just one season together. Day left after that 1-11 campaign of 2006 to coach wide receivers at Boston College while Rhule stuck around in Philadelphia, moving from defensive line coach to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator within a span of three seasons.
Both later returned to Philadelphia, though not at the same time. Day actually replaced Rhule as the Owls’ offensive coordinator in 2012, when Rhule left to join Tom Coughlin’s staff with the New York Giants. Rhule returned in 2013 as Temple’s head coach, but by then Day was back in Boston as BC’s offensive coordinator. He returned a second time in 2016, as Chip Kelly’s wide receivers coach with the Eagles.
It’s a great story, well told by Thamel. Read it here.