With a mix of Saban and swag, Collins takes over at Temple


After Matt Rhule left for Baylor, the school chose a coach with longtime ties to Rhule.

Collins has changed the way the team practices as he aims to help the Owls take the next step.

Geoff Collins flips through the pages in a three-ring binder, grabs another and does the same.

He finds the pages he wants and puts them side-by-side. Two travel itineraries, one from his time as Florida defensive coordinator and one that was used by his predecessor at Temple.

The logos at the top of the page, the fonts, the layout of the schedule look about the same. That’s not a coincidence.

Collins, the new Temple coach, and Matt Rhule, the former one, are friends who have been sharing ideas and best practices for years — including that travel itinerary used by Collins’ old Gators boss, Jim McElwain.

“I had intimate knowledge of how the Temple program for the last 10 years has been developed,” Collins said. “I walk into things that, hey, I had a say in that or I helped come up with that.”

Now Collins, as Rhule once was, is the first-time head coach in charge of the Owls. His plan is to be true to the core values instilled in the program by his buddy, while infusing Temple Tough with Saban-style structure and his own swagger — swag for short.

“My big thing, too, is being tough, being physical, being disciplined, having attention to detail and having fun, having swag, having energy, having juice; I don’t think those are mutually exclusive. You can have all those things and have them be working together,” Collins said.

Collins was defensive coordinator at Division III Albright in 1998 when he hired Rhule as linebackers coach for “$1,800 a year and a meal card,” Rhule said. Later at Western Carolina, Collins was defensive coordinator and hired Rhule.

Collins, 46, bounced around the South, including a year as director of player personnel for Nick Saban at Alabama, before becoming one of the most respected defensive coordinators in college football.

Rhule became head coach at Temple in 2013, leading the program to unprecedented success before leaving to take the Baylor job.

Now Collins is in charge, and he has changed the way the Owls practice to mimic how Alabama does it under Saban.

“A lot of places you go to there’s 22 kids practicing, 88, however many other kids watching the practice,” Collins said. “That doesn’t happen at one of our practices. Everyone’s engaged. Everyone is developing, going through the practice. Rotation. Movement. Going from one drill to another drill. Everybody’s moving all the time. Reduce the practice time, but exponentially get more reps.”

“Geoff is able to come in and still stay true to Temple Tough. Hard-nosed, physical, disciplined team, but he’s going to do it in a completely different way,” Rhule said. “With really, really cool ideas and a new outlook. Because now’s the time to bring Temple to the next step.”

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