East alum Ed Foley coaches his way to success


Courtesy of hailvarsity.com

Foley is currently the special teams coordinator for Nebraska.

This story was featured in the May 2023 issue of Eastside.

When Ed Foley graduated from Cherry Hill High School East in 1985, he had no idea where his football journey was going to take him. After being a three-year starter at Bucknell, Foley knew he immediately wanted to get into coaching and make it his life-long career. From being a Division I head coach to becoming a two-time interim head coach in bowl games, a pit stop in the NFL, and now being back in college football as a coach in the BIG 10, Foley has certainly seen it all in his 34 years of coaching. 

Foley’s first coaching job was at the young age of 22 when he was hired as the offensive line coach for the University at Albany. He then had stops at Penn, Williams College, and Jacksonville University until landing with Fordham University in 1999 to be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. In 2004, Fordham head coach Dave Clawson left for Richmond and Foley was promoted to be the team’s next coach. In just two seasons, Foley compiled a 7-17 record and was fired.

“It was a great experience,” Foley said. “I don’t think I was fully prepared for [being a head coach] at that age and that time. It didn’t work out for me or the team but it was a great learning experience.”

After Fordham, Foley spent the next two seasons at Hofstra University before landing with Temple University, the school he would call home for the next 11 years. He had a wide variety of positions during those years including offensive line coach and tight ends coach but was most known for his work as special teams coach. During his tenure as the special teams coordinator, Temple ranked top-five nationally in blocked kicks four times, were top-25 in punt defense three times, and, in 2018, scored six special teams touchdowns en route to a top 25 finish in punt and kick returns defense. Foley was also known for his creative and successful fake punts that Temple would frequently run during the season.  He also helped develop Isaiah Wright into one of the best kick and punt returners in the country while he was at Temple. Wright went on to play in the NFL and CFL and is currently a NFL free agent. He scored five touchdowns on special teams in his collegiate career and averaged 13.1 yards per punt return in his junior year.

Foley’s love and passion for Temple showed when he continued to stay on Broad Street despite five head coaches leaving during his tenure, including now-former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. He mentioned how Temple was the perfect situation for him with the school being so close to his hometown and the people at Temple. 

“Temple is a very special place to me,” Foley said. “It was aligned perfectly from the president, the teachers, the students, the football team, it was just like a family. Everyone was pulling for everyone and it was just a great fit.”

Foley had the opportunity to be the interim head coach twice during his time at Temple. In 2016, Rhule left to take the head coaching position at Baylor after Temple won the American Athletic Conference Championship. However, Temple still had one more game to play, so athletic director Pat Kraft tabbed Foley to be the interim head coach in the Military Bowl vs Wake Forest. In 2018, a similar situation happened when head coach Geoff Collins left to become the head coach at Georgia Tech, so Foley was once again chosen to be the interim head coach for their bowl game against Duke. While Temple didn’t win either game, Kraft choosing Foley over other top assistants showed Temple’s confidence in him and the impact that he had on the student-athletes there.

The 2018 bowl game was the last time Foley would don the cherry and white as Temple hired Rod Carey to be the next head coach for the 2019 season. Carey decided to bring in his own assistants and demoted Foley to an off-the-field position. Foley knew that this was the time to move on and reunited with Rhule at Baylor. While he didn’t necessarily want to leave, Foley knew that this was the best decision for his coaching career. 

“It was time,” Foley said. “Temple had run its course, we had done a lot of great things there, and Rod was looking in another direction. It was a great opportunity for me to go and join Matt.”

“When you stay at one place too long in our profession, it sometimes works against you. One of my buddies called me up and said I stopped calling you because I thought you would never leave Temple. If I knew you were going to leave, I would have offered you a job a lot sooner. A lot of times when you stay too long, people assume that you’re never going to leave and you don’t want that.”

Foley spent just one season at Baylor until Rhule got hired to be the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Rhule brought Foley with him to Carolina to be his assistant special teams coordinator. While it was never a dream or goal for Foley to be an NFL coach, he said it was still an amazing experience that he enjoyed every moment of. Despite the excitement of  working with pro-bowl players like Cam Newton and Chrsitian McCaffrey, Foley said the best part of the job was reuniting with the many Temple and Baylor players that he coached that were on the Panthers.

“It’s so humbling to have a guy in college that you had for four years that you built a relationship with,” Foley said. “My most lasting memories from the NFL will be working with the Temple guys and the Baylor guys and all of the success we had together.”

Midway through his third season with the Panthers, Rhule was fired from his job and Foley was let go the same day. A few weeks later, Rhule was hired to be the new head coach at Nebraska for the upcoming season. Foley joined him once again to be the special teams coordinator, now the fourth time that he has worked under Rhule. 

When looking back on his time at East, Foley really cherishes his time being a four-year football player under head coach Bo Wood. He said that what stood out to him the most from his time with the Cougars was the passion that all of his coaches had and that made him a better coach. He still stays in touch with a lot of his classmates from East and has built lifelong relationships.

While it is unclear where Foley’s next stop will take him after Nebraska, it is clear that he has a strong passion for coaching. He continues to touch the lives of student-athletes everyday and that will continue for a long time.