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Rhule formally takes over as Temple's coach

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Rhule formally takes over as Temple's coach

PHILADELPHIA (AP) From Joe Paterno to Tom Coughlin, Matt Rhule has been mentored by some of the winningest coaches in football.

Now, Rhule gets a chance to apply all of it at Temple.

Rhule, 37, who will leave his post as assistant offensive line coach with the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants to take over the Owls, was formally introduced on Monday on campus, after agreeing to a contract over the weekend. He has 15 seasons of coaching experience, and is a former linebacker at Penn State.

He will replace Steve Addazio, who left Temple earlier this month to take the same post at Boston College. Addazio was with the Owls for just two years.

``We had a diverse and talented pool of candidates and an overwhelming amount of interest, but one person distinguished himself from the rest - Matt Rhule,'' Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said. ``Matt is the perfect person to take Temple Football to the next level.''

The Owls are coming off a 4-7 season, in which they went 2-5 in the Big East.

Rhule is the third coach at Temple in the last four years, joining Addazio and Al Golden, who left for Miami. It is Rhule's second stint at Temple, after serving as an assistant for both of those previous coaches.

``One of the emphases in my mind is really watch a kid play and how he develops,'' Rhule said. ``Give kids an opportunity to develop.''

The Owls, searching for a lasting identity in football, would love to see that. A year after winning the New Mexico Bowl - 37-15 over Wyoming in Addazio's debut season - they took a significant step back this year.

``Matt is a good, young coach. He has very good command, and is thorough and detailed in his assignments and with personnel,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ``He has an outstanding background in the game, and the players like and respect him. He will be a great representative for Temple.''

Rhule - who will finish the season with New York, a team that will advance to the NFC postseason with wins in its final two games - applied for the Temple position when Golden left to take the job at Miami, and lost out to Addazio.

The second time, though, was a charm.

``I want to thank Bill Bradshaw for giving me this opportunity, he turned me down two years ago, and he was right two years ago, I wasn't ready then, but I'm ready now,'' Rhule said. ``The great thing about what Coach (Addazio) did, was he kept the infrastructure we built under Al (Golden) with the coaches that had been here. Steve didn't wipe it all out.

``Then I worked for Tom Coughlin, and I don't think you do what he did at Boston College, and do what he's done at both Jacksonville and the New York Giants, without having a system. He's unflappable. He doesn't ever show weakness. I watched that for a year. I've been trying to build for this job for a long time.''

And now, the time is here. But this will not be an easy task.

The Owls had an anemic offense this season, finishing 107th overall and with a 322-yard average. They lost five of their last six games, with only a 63-32 win over Army to show for the final month of the season.

``From the minute that he stepped foot here and became our assistant, you could tell he was a guy that was passionate about football,'' Giants tackle David Diehl said. ``He loves the game; he loves being around it. He's a guy who brings that energy each and every day.''

Rhule stressed that his recruiting message will center be on how long he plans to stay at Temple.

``I'm going to tell a recruit, if it's within my power, I'm going to be here as your head football coach when you graduate,'' Rhule said. ``That's what we're looking for.''

Of course, where Rhule's Owls will play long term is a bit of an unknown. Temple returned to the Big East this season after a stay in the Mid-American Conference. With the embattled Big East still in shuffle mode, who knows where the Owls might land in the future.

Either way, though, it appears Rhule will be with them every step of the way.

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Why Thomas Bryant's defensive showing against Joel Embiid could speak volumes for Wizards' future

Why Thomas Bryant's defensive showing against Joel Embiid could speak volumes for Wizards' future

The Wizards, as they are expected to be constructed next season, should be uniquely good on the offensive end. They could have Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans (if he re-signs), two of the game's most lethal shooters, spreading the floor. Rui Hachimura has the potential to be elite in the midrange and Thomas Bryant is one of the league's most efficient scorers around the rim.

Then, you have John Wall distributing the ball. There are three levels of offense and the Wizards could have all of them covered with a generational passer setting everyone up. That has the potential to be the type of offense with very little, if any, weaknesses. 

But the defensive end could be a completely different story. None of the aforementioned players are elite defenders and the Wizards posted the worst defensive rating in the NBA this season at 115.6.

That's what made a particular development in the Wizards' loss to the Sixers on Wednesday encouraging. Bryant more than held his own against Joel Embiid, one of the NBA's best offensive centers and arguably the league's most imposing physical force. 

Bryant held Embiid to 3-for-11 shooting while The Process went 8-for-11 against his teammates. Bryant had 19 total contested shots in the game and held his match-ups to 33.3 percent shooting overall. He blocked four shots, which tied a career-high.

"It was his best defensive game I've ever seen him play," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He was aware, he was anticipating, his hands were up and he jumped. If you just do those things, you give yourself a chance for a defensive stop at the rim. I thought tonight he was outstanding pretty much on both ends."

Bryant has some physical tools that lend themselves to the defensive end. He's one of the fastest centers up and down the floor in the NBA. And he has a 7-foot-6 wingspan. Of all players drafted since 2013, only five players have registered bigger wingspans at the combine: Mo Bamba, Bol Bol, Tacko Fall, Zhou Qi and Ike Anigbogu.

Bryant knows his potential on that end of the floor and how he hasn't really come close to reaching his full ceiling in the NBA. When told of Brooks' praise, he downplayed it as just one game.

"It's a step in the right direction. Keep improving every day, that's my main thing, especially on the defensive end," Bryant said.

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Consistency will be key. In the Wizards' previous game against the Pacers, Myles Turner went 5-for-5 while guarded by Bryant. In the team's season opener, DeAndre Ayton went 3-for-5 against him.

But if Bryant can establish some stability on that end, it could solve a lot of problems for the Wizards. Rim protector is again going to be a big priority for them this offseason, as it has essentially been annually. Finding solutions in that area is just very difficult to do. 

Teams that have good shot-blockers don't let them go and when they leave in free agency, they are expensive. If you draft rim protectors, they often take time to develop.

The Wizards, though, arguably need one now more than ever before. They are about to reinsert Wall into the lineup with a surgically repaired Achilles. As much as people have focused on his offense and how his speed could be affected, the defensive end should be the biggest concern.

The injury notoriously affects lateral movement and Wall will have to stay in front of NBA point guards, who are some of the quickest athletes in the world. Defensive structure around him could help compensate and a rim protector would provide a security blanket behind him.

Bryant has a long way to go to fill that void, and he knows it. But Wednesday was, like he said, a step in the right direction.

NBA.com advanced stats were used as part of this research

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Maryland's Mike Locksley forms minority football coaches coalition

Maryland's Mike Locksley forms minority football coaches coalition

There are only three Black coaches out of 32 in the NFL and only 14 out of 130 FBS football coaches are Black. Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is taking steps to change that pattern.

Locksley announced the formation of the Nationals Coalition of Minority Football Coaches Thursday, a non-profit organization focused on helping male or female football coaches of color gain exposure in the hiring process. 

"When I took the Maryland job last year and looked at the landscape of college football, I thought to myself, 'There's something missing. I'm on the back nine of my career and the pathway to becoming a head coach is still as difficult as when I got into the business in 1992,'" Locksley told NFL.com's Jim Trotter. "I wanted to create an organization that would be able to help prepare, promote and produce the next group of coaches coming up through the ranks at every level."

The coalition's goals are to find and groom football coaches of color as well as provide a list of board-approved candidates for job openings in both the NFL and the college ranks. 

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There are 11 board members, featuring Ravens owner Ozzie Newsome, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Washington Football Team executive Doug Williams and Dolphins general manager Chris Grier. 

"We want to use their experiences to help us formulate and produce the list of qualified candidates, so when people say there aren't enough minorities to fill the positions that have come open over the years, we're going to produce a list of qualified people that shows there are qualified people," Locksley said. 

While the coalition isn't expected to provide its first list for several months as the organization continues to settle in, Locksley hopes he and the board members can leverage their experience and relationships to ensure franchise's and universities aren't overlooking qualified candidates. 

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