There are some in Philadelphia who thought Matt Rhule should have gotten the Temple job two years ago.
Better late than never?
The former Temple assistant was officially announced as the new Owls coach on Monday afternoon, taking over after Steve Addazio left for Boston College. Rhule was the best -- and only choice -- athletic director Bill Bradshaw could make, another no-brainer hire in the Big East head-coaching carousel this season.
Just about everybody called for Rhule to get this job. Current players. Former players. Recruits. Rhule built incredibly strong relationships during his time at Temple from 2006-2011, and is intimately familiar with the entire region. He hoped to get the job when his good friend, Al Golden, left for Miami in 2010. When Addazio got the job instead, Rhule stayed on for one more season before leaving for an assistant job with the New York Giants.
His heart -- and his wife and home -- remained in Philadelphia. Perhaps he always held out hope he would get another chance. Now he has it.
And here is what separates him from Addazio.
Rhule arrived at Temple with Golden when the school was seen as a dead end. Folks told Golden he was crazy for even taking the job at a school that had won 30 games between 1991-2005. But Golden got to work, and so did Rhule, selling their vision for Temple. Rebuilding Temple became their life's work, their passion, something they could mold out of absolutely nothing.
Addazio may have been the bigger name hire, but he never had to fight to restore his program's reputation. Rhule has the bigger connection to Temple, and can wholeheartedly identify with what the program came to represent over Golden's last few seasons on the job. He put in the time, the effort, the sweat, the salesmanship, the love, the hard work and the determination to help get Temple turned around.
Indeed, when he spent time as recruiting coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Temple's classes ranked No. 1 in the MAC. In 2008, as well. There is nobody out there better acquainted with what it takes to win at Temple and what is needed to win at Temple.
Rhule enters at a critical moment for the program, which just completed its first year in the Big East at 4-7 -- Temple's first losing season since 2008. Many expected the Owls to take a step back because they were taking a step up in play. But this can only be a momentary step back, given all that Rhule, Golden and all the other coaches accomplished during their stay together.
The last thing Temple needs is to slip back into the Big East basement permanently, where it resided during its first stint in the league. The shifting sands of realignment mean Temple has a great chance at avoiding a repeat of their past.
And there is nobody who understands that more than Rhule.