Temple Basketball’s Fran Dunphy Will Bounce Back Like These 5 Ex-Owl Coaches
5 Temple Coaches Who Bounced Back Like Fran Dunphy Will
While there is a small but vocal minority of Temple basketball fans who want coach Fran Dunphy's scalp for what soon will be the first 20-loss season in school history, most Owl fans will admit that Dunphy’s tenure at the school has been a remarkable one overall.
Is he perfect? No, but nobody is. Dunphy, unlike his Temple football counterpart Matt Rhule, appears to be uncomfortable closing the recruiting deal. He also seems to exhibit a little too much loyalty and subsequent minutes to guys who play hard, but have limited offensive skills, which leaves the Owls playing offense four on five for long stretches of the game.
At the end of the day, however, Temple should be happy to have a coach of Dunphy’s caliber.
The old adage is that the toughest job is to follow a legend and Dunphy’s done that quite well at Temple, following Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. He’s been to six straight NCAA tournaments, won three straight Atlantic 10 postseason titles and one A-10 regular-season title. In addition to that, with the win over 21st-ranked SMU this season, he has beaten a ranked team in seven straight seasons. Six of the wins in prior seasons came against Top-10 teams.
More importantly, the Cavalry is on the way in the form of high-profile transfers for next year’s team and a top-100 high school recruit, and a guy who was named the New York Post’s Player of the Year in the Bronx when he was a senior in high school two years ago. Jaylen Bond, a 6-7 forward and the second-leading scorer in the history of Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School basketball, has transferred from Texas. Jesse Morgan, who was the leading scorer for two years at UMass, could also be granted Temple eligibility. The Owls will get a former Clemson starter in Devin Coleman as well. In 6-foot-10 center Obi Enechionyia, the Owls have a consensus Top-100 high school basketball recruit from St. James (Md.) High, who averaged 19.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and four blocked shots per game. In returning injured player Daniel Dingle, the Owls have that Bronx Player of the Year from two seasons ago and another explosive 6-7 forward.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Dunphy’s history is of a winner and the help on the way in terms of viable players should restore any luster lost by this one bad season. Heck, even when General Custer’s scalp was taken in the summer of 1876, there was no Cavalry on the way to relieve him.
Plenty of help is coming for Dunphy, who can be consoled by the fact that these five former Temple coaches survived poor seasons to thrive at the school.
5. John Chaney
John Chaney’s first season, 1982-83, was a rough one as he went 14-15. Then he was able to recruit the two Philadelphia city players of the year the next two seasons, Nate Blackwell and Howie Evans, and he was off and running, winning 25 the next season and 26 the two after that, before putting together consecutive 32-win seasons.
4. Harry Litwack
Harry Litwack was good enough to get the school to build a statue of him this season (pictured above). He also had the Owls in two NCAA basketball Final Fours, but fell to 6-19 in the 1958-59 season before rebounding to win 17 games the next season and 20 the year after that, and a NIT Tournament Championship a few years later. If Dunphy does the same kind of turnaround, the school can start taking measurements for the next statue.
3. Bruce Arians
In 1983, Bruce Arians’ first year as coach, he posted a 4-7 record, but bounced back with a 6-5 record the next season against the 10th-toughest schedule in the country. Included in that season were wins over two bowl teams, West Virginia (Peach Bowl) and Toledo (California Bowl). Also, Arians went 6-5 in 1986 against a schedule also rated No. 10 in the country, including handing 9-2-1 Virginia Tech one of its only two losses of that season, 29-13. Arians, the current head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, was the NFL’s Coach of the Year following the 2012 season for the Indianapolis Colts.
2. Skip Wilson
In 1971, the baseball Owls of legendary coach Skip Wilson went 9-18 and finished in seventh place in the seven team Middle Atlantic Conference, which no longer exists. The next season the Owls went 33-15 and not only won the league championship, but finished third in the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium (pictured above) in Omaha, NE, behind only Arizona State and Texas.
Wilson retired after the 2005 season with 1,034 wins, the most of any coach in any sport in Temple history. He also took the Owls back to the College World Series in 1977. Sadly, this is the last season of baseball at Temple, as the school has decided to drop the national pastime.
1. Wayne Hardin
Wayne Hardin did what was thought to be impossible at two schools, Navy and Temple, having both ranked in the top 20. While at head coach at Navy, despite academic and service restrictions, Hardin had that school ranked as high as No. 2 twice. At Temple, his 1979 team finished ranked No. 17. Still, Hardin’s 1976 team was 4-6 and his 1977 team was 5-5-1 before going 7-3-1 and 10-2 the next two seasons.
If all of these great coaches struggled at Temple and thrived afterward, there is plenty of hope for a great coach like Fran Dunphy to bounce back from this season.