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Potential CPJ Replacements: Temple HC Geoff Collins

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The former Tech assistant would offer significant upside, particularly in recruiting

NCAA Football: Temple at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As the Tech coaching search enters its second week, another name has been directly tied to the opening in Atlanta. Temple’s 247Sports site, OwlsDaily, has reported that Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury met with current Temple head coach (and former Tech assistant) Geoff Collins on Wednesday.

It’s not the first time that Collins’ name has been connected to the Tech job, and it’s worth taking a closer look at a coach who could be an intriguing fit in Atlanta. As a bonus, this profile will include a bit of film review toward the end.

Coaching Career

Collins first became a DC at the FBS level at Florida International in 2010, where he helped FIU achieve its first-ever winning season and Sun Belt Conference title. He jumped from there to Mississippi State, where he spent two years as co-DC and two as DC, and then took over Florida’s defense for the 2015 and 2016 seasons before taking the head coaching job at Temple in December 2016. The Owls have gone 7-6 and 8-4 in his brief tenure; this past season, his team stumbled out of the gate with losses to Villanova and Buffalo, but they righted the ship, picking up late-season wins over Cincinnati and Houston and giving UCF a fight in Orlando.

Aside from his year at FIU—which was only that program’s ninth season since it was created—Collins’ defenses have consistently finished in the top 50 in Defensive S&P+ and have shown a general trend of improvement during his tenures. The same applies to his brief tenure at Temple. Here are his teams’ Defensive S&P+ rankings since 2010:

  • 2010 (FIU): 68
  • 2011-14 (Miss St): 33, 43, 14, 22
  • 2015-16 (Florida): 7, 4
  • 2017-18 (Temple): 40, 24

On the home front, Collins has been a Tech assistant on two separate occasions: as a graduate assistant and later tight ends coach under George O’Leary from 1999-2001, and as the director of player personnel under Chan Gailey in 2006. The big takeaway here is that Collins was part of the staff that assembled the stellar 2007 recruiting class that included Joshua Nesbitt, Derrick Morgan, Jonathan Dwyer, Morgan Burnett, and Roddy Jones, and all indications are that he played a significant role in helping to bring that class together.

If he can recruit at anything close to that level—and his list of commits on 247Sports suggests that he had no trouble roping in top talent at either SEC stop—then Collins would offer significant upside for a program that could use a boost in recruiting on both sides of the ball.

Staff/Scheme Preview

One thing differentiates Collins from nearly every other candidate who’s been mentioned in the context of the Tech job: he has a defensive background. If he were hired, this would leave current DC Nate Woody in a bit of a pickle. It’s not that Collins would run the defense himself; he’s had a DC during his two years at Temple. The main issue is that Collins has historically run a 4-3 scheme, and it’s hard to say if he would want to keep a DC who uses a 3-4 front.

That said, there are reasons to believe that Collins could keep Woody around to run the defense. Both coaches have attacking philosophies and rely heavily on stunts and creative blitzes to generate pressure. One difference is the coverage philosophy; whereas Woody has leaned heavily on Cover 3 to prevent the deep pass by conceding underneath routes, Collins tends to lean more on man coverage, taking a more aggressive approach.

If Collins were hired, and he and Woody could reconcile their differences in philosophy, it would probably be a net positive with regard to player development to keep Woody around for a second season.

Offense is... more of a question mark. During Collins’ tenure, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude has run a spread offense featuring multiple receivers and a fairly balanced mix of passing and running. There’s no indication that Collins is firmly tied to Patenaude’s scheme, though since he’s only been a head coach for two years, it’s hard to know for sure. If Tech did ultimately adopt such a scheme, the offense would be in for at least two or three years of rebuilding.

Film Review

To really get a sense of what Collins would bring to the table, our own Cade Lawson dug up some incredibly instructive film that sheds light on (among many, many other things) Collins’ playcalling tendencies and his scientific acumen. If the video doesn’t do it automatically, skip to the 2:48 mark for the important stuff:

There’s a lot to digest here. Let’s break it down:

  • 3:14 - With no hesitation, Collins comes out of the gate with a diverse array of calls. mixing up the usual staples with a few option plays, such as the pecan waffle. (Author’s note: the only concern is him getting his hash browns smothered. Onions are the worst. Just the worst.)
  • 3:32 - Collins’ true potential starts to become clear as he unveils an innovative call that leaves everyone present speechless. Remember the time that Scott Blair threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas? This is the Waffle House equivalent of that call.
  • 3:58 - Even on an apparent off day, Collins is out on the trail securing commitments.
  • 5:25 - Remember the time that Corey Dennis was supposed to run a reverse pass and it came apart at the seams and ended in a safety? This is the Waffle House equivalent of that call, and Collins knows it.
  • 6:04 - It was tempting to quote this entire section here, but... no. It needs to be seen and heard in full. This is almost a full minute of pure, unfiltered scientific brilliance from a college football coach.
  • 7:17 - We are all apex predators on this blessed day.

Conclusion

There are a lot of candidates for the Tech vacancy. Each of them comes with pros and cons.

Only one of them, however, has used the phrases “thermodynamically opposed to the bubbles” and “they just kinda coagulate” and “the amount of fizz... see? Right? Okay. It’s science” while sitting in a Waffle House.

That someone is Geoff Collins. He’s a perfectly good candidate on his football credentials alone, but his intangibles are simply unmatched.