The time was right for Matt Rhule to be the head coach of the Temple football team. The time was…
He'll be coming back to the Owls to hopefully continue to build on the groundwork he helped put down as a player. The former starting quarterback from 2006 to 2008 accepted a position on new coach Matt Rhule's staff, reuniting with his former position coach and coordinator.
DiMichele will be a graduate assistant coach in an undefined role, though he hopes and expects he'll have some hand in developing the quarterbacks.
"I knew if I was going to do this, I would have to do it now or I'd never do it," said DiMichele from his home in McKees Rocks, Pa. "It's funny because when I was there in ‘06 and ‘07, Coach Rule would joke around that when he became a head coach, he was going to get me into coaching."
Rhule proved he was serious when he was hired to replace Steve Addazio, who left for Boston College, a few weeks ago. He called DiMichele up after his former quarterback decided he was going to end his professional playing career.
DiMichele spent last season as the backup quarterback for the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul.
Rhule asked DiMichele to come aboard as a graduate assistant in the summer. DiMichele told him he'd be there in the spring — even though he admits he's not looking forward to going back to school.
"There's going to be a learning curve, so I want to get there and get started," said DiMichele. "I can watch film and things like that, and I've been coaching quarterbacks in high school here since I've been home, so I know I can do it.
"But using the computers as a coach, drawing stuff up, cutting up and making clips. .. I need to be there in the spring."
DiMichele is a staunch Rhule supporter. He threw his backing behind Rhule when he interviewed to replace Al Golden two years ago and took to Twitter several times a day after Addazio resigned to let Temple know there was an obvious choice.
"He brings stability," said DiMichele. "He'll get on you. When he needs to be the bad guy, he'll be the bad guy, but he's the father-like figure I needed when I came here.
"He knows how to recruit the Northeast. He develops guys. He started as the defensive line coach, look how many of those guys are in the NFL right now. He's motivated and he's exactly what Temple needs. He's going to be great."
At the age of 27, DiMichele has no doubt he could still play the game. He just tired of waiting for the opportunity.
DiMichele spent a couple stints with the Eagles before the 2009 season and played in an exhibition game but didn't make the roster.
He spent three days with the Calgary Stampeders and parts of two seasons with the Winnpeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League but never saw the field in a regular-season game.
The former Owl standout spent 2011 playing for the Erie Explosion of the Southern Indoor Football League where he threw for 91 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in earning league MVP honors. The performance earned him a job in the Arena League with the Soul last year, where he threw for three touchdowns in 35 passes as the backup quarterback for the league runner-up.
The last season of not seeing the field much made DiMichele decide he wasn't going to pursue playing again.
"I had to make an adult decision, a big man decision," said DiMichele. "The money in the AFL isn't great. Someday I'd like to own a house. Sometimes you have to move on and set up the rest of your life.
"I love competing, I felt like I earned more playing time, but I'm not the first guy that's happened to. The one year I really had fun was in Erie, because I had a chance to do what I've always done. I'm sure in the future I might regret that I stopped playing, but it was getting hard to stay motivated and I had decided I was going to take this year off and look for a regular job. I was praying about what to do next."
His prayers were answered when Rhule, who had left Temple to become the assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants, was named to return as the head coach.
"It was the perfect situation for me," said DiMichele.
Temple has struggled for consistency at the quarterback position since DiMichele left after he threw for 5,024 yards and 45 touchdowns in a three-year career as starter that included significant injuries in his junior and senior campaigns.
He helped lead the Owls from one win in 2006 to four wins in 2007 to five wins in 2008, setting up a three-year run of bowl eligibility that ended this year.
Temple won 26 games from 2009-2011, though haven't settled on a starting quarterback in any season. The Owls were 4-7 after moving to the Big East this year.
In the four seasons since DiMichele graduated, the Owls have gone from Vaughn Charlton to Chester Stewart, back to Charlton, back to Stewart, to Mike Gerardi, back to Stewart, to Chris Coyer and finally to Juice Granger at the quarterback position.
Coyer, Granger and Kevin Newsome will compete to be the Owls' starting quarterback this spring with a possibility that a fifth straight different quarterback will open the season for the Owls when they play at Notre Dame.
"The quarterback position is not an easy one to play," said DiMichele. "I don't know exactly what it is, but I've seen Chester play, seen Chris run, seen Juice play, Gerardi was good at times. They're recruiting the right players, the system is right. But that's what Rhule is here to do, to help straighten out that situation.
"He's going to pass the ball and it's all about who can make the right reads, check down when necessary and complete passes, and if you do that you will move the football.
"I'm going to help them out, maybe there's something I'll see that they don't see. But I just can't wait to get there and get started."
As DiMichele prepares to return to Temple, he remembered the tough beginning when he came here in Golden's first season and knows what is possible with a future under Rhule, who started at Temple the same time.
"I remember losing 62-0 to Louisville and Minnesota that first year, then standing on the sideline the year after I graduated, playing UCLA (in the EagleBank) Bowl, taking it all in," said DiMichele. "Philadelphia is my second home. I have my Temple degree and my jersey hanging on the wall.
"I've been here, I've seen the struggle and now we're in the Big East, even though it's changing, playing in San Diego, at Notre Dame. ...I want to be there to see it in the future and be part of it again."
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