Mainland Regional High School place-kicker Jim Cooper Jr. spoke candidly Tuesday night, just hours after learning that Temple football coach Steve Addazio had decided to leave for Boston College.
Cooper said he is still committed to Temple, though he made it clear that he will keep his options open. His commitment is only verbal, since high school football seniors cannot sign binding letters of intent until February.
Cooper said he will pay close attention to Temple's search for a new coach, as well as to which assistants are retained.
Here are some excerpts from the interview with Cooper:
On finding out around 6 p.m. Tuesday: I was training with my dad up at an indoor facility (Total Turf Experience in Pitman). I was in the middle of my kicking session and my dad got a text from my sister (Chrissy). We were like, what? … When we heard that was accurate, we were kind of shocked. I didn’t hit the panic button. I was more thrown off than anything. It was really a shock.
On whether Addazio had ever talked about the possibility of another job: He never mentioned a word about any of that. That’s why it came as such a shock. I got the feeling with him that he was there for a while. One of the reasons I committed there was I got a good feeling with Coach Addazio and I thought he was going somewhere with the program. But there are other reasons why I committed to Temple. … I don’t feel lied to at all or anything like that. Obviously it’s a weird feeling I have right now, but I don’t have anything against the guy. For his best interest and his family’s best interest, he thought he was better off at Boston College. I understand college football. It’s a business. … I can’t hold that against him that he didn’t base his decision around a kicker who committed from a school in New Jersey. … I’m ready for anything. I’m just going to try to prepare myself for whatever, whether it’s the whole coaching staff leaves or whether it’s Coach Addazio.
On commitment: As of right now, I’m staying committed. I feel like that’s the best option at that point. … I still see a lot of potential in the program. I don’t think this is going to hurt us. I still think we’re going to be up and coming and win games. It would have been nice to do that with Coach Addazio, but I’m ready for whoever they bring in next. … Obviously for any student-athlete, they need to keep their options open at any time just because stuff like this happens. I still don’t know what’s going on with the coaching staff. It’s not like I’m going to go market myself like I did when I was not committed or anything. I’m still committed, but I’m just going to do what I think day by day is the best decision for me.
On hearing from other schools Tuesday night: I’ve talked to a couple very close friends of mine that are committed to other schools that have said, ‘Would you want to come here? We need a kicker.’ … I haven’t jumped on anything. I’ve told them I’m committed to Temple. I don’t want to do anything rash without seeing what happens with the rest of the coaching staff and what goes down with the entire program.
On Rutgers and Louisville leaving the Big East: For whatever reason, they felt they wanted to leave. They left and that’s fine. Growing up, I always said to my family I want to get to college for free. I don’t want you to have to pay. I want to play as big, big-time college football as I could, and I think Temple’s a great school for me. … I’m always going to think the Big East is a respectable conference. … I’m not worried about it at all because there are just as many teams coming in that I think are going to be really respectable.