By Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
A few late-December reality checks …
- The NFL Coach of the Year isn’t really that hard to decipher, and, no, it’s not Doug Pederson. As good as he’s been in his second year at the Eagles’ helm, Dougie P has been trumped by the Rams’ Sean McVay. No fault of his own. Just up against a guy whose Herculean success was even better than his own due to circumstance. Point being – Birds didn’t suck nearly as bad as the Rams did entering 2017. Heck, they weren’t even bad. Just mediocre. The Rams? They were an absolute dumpster fire, having lost 11 of their final dozen games last season to finish 4-12 … with No. 1 pick Jared Goff left sporting a “bust” noose around his neck. Now, they’re 11-4, the most well-rounded team in the NFC, with Goff posting – gulp – Carson Wentz-like numbers at QB, and a major threat to the home-standing Eagles’ chances of making a third Super Bowl trip. Have heard the injuries argument in Pederson’s favor, but we’re talking about over-rated figures being lost in the first place – if only because two of them (OL Jason Peters and LB Jordan Hicks) are out so often anyway, and another was all set for retirement (Darren Sproles) – and the placekicking situation actually worked in the Eagles’ favor.
- While the jury may be out on Markelle Fultz’s future in the NBA, the final verdict on him being chosen with the first pick in this past summer’s draft is in … and the Sixers are guilty as charged with blowing the selection. Not even killing the kid for his struggles since he got to Philly, which remain in question as to whether they’re physical, mental, emotional or all the above. Yo, shit happens. But here’s all you need to know: Much was made about how he carried the University of Washington in his one year at the Pac-12 school, being anointed as the only guy on the squad who could dribble and move at the same time, to the point it was amazing – AMAZING – the Huskies actually won 9 games (never mind the 22 losses). Well, with Fultz here, times have changed there. U-Dub, with most of the same stiffs, already has 10 wins in its first 13 games, including a 74-65 bitch-slapping of then-No. 2 Kansas on the road. In short, Fultz obviously wasn’t the game-changer he was drafted for being.
- The Phillies effed up – completely – on multiple fronts with their mostly championed moves a few weeks ago, the first being the jettisoning of other-worldly defensive/wildly underappreciated run-producing and clutch offensive shortstop Freddy Galvis to San Diego for a bag of balls and, oh, yeah, a fringe pitching prospect, and the second being the free-agent signing of eminently mediocre first baseman Carlos Santana. With Galvis gone, J.P. Crawford gets to prove once and for all that he’s neither the fielder nor the hitter his often ridiculed predecessor was. Hallelujah. With Santana in the lineup, Rhys Hoskins gets to remain ill-suited in left field and have the 25-homer, 75-RBI kinda protection in the order that $20 mil per year can provide.
By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Encouraged. Somewhat encouraged.
If a label had to be attached to the vibe reverberating within following Temple University football’s season-ending, 28-3 bowl victory in St. Petersburg, Fla., Thursday night, it would be that.
Not because the Owls clinched a winning campaign with the decision.
Not because they did something they never did under departed program saviors Matt Rhule and Al Golden.
Not even because they staked yet more claim to the best attire in all of college football on a regular basis, home or away.
The positive feeling, albeit measured, really has to do with the fact Temple didn’t bottom out. That, in fact, it started to stabilize despite the craziness that can come with a new coaching staff, new philosophy, new personality, new everything.
When Rhule left for what he presumed were greener pastures in Waco, Texas, all the buzz he had created along North Broad basically went with him. Talk around Philly about the Owls pretty much evaporated.
An uninformed fan base is one thing. An uninterested fan base is something altogether … and it ain’t good.
Still, as the Cherry & White head into the offseason on a stretch of four wins in their last five games, with Geoff Collins and Co. showing an ability to adapt and do what’s best for the team (hello, Frank Nutile as starting quarterback) and so many key components back next season, am not even laughing at the bluster coming from the locker room about being about the Group of Five’s “chosen one” next fall.
Thing is, the Owls ain’t that far off from that becoming a reality – not after another solid recruiting haul mostly completed by Wednesday’s early signing day and the knowledge that with a break here or a better play call there they just as easily could have finished 10-3 instead of 7-6.
Really, truly, only three teams were better than Temple on its slate in 2017: 10-win South Florida, No. 14 Notre Dame and undefeated No. 12 Central Florida. Chalk up losses to Connecticut and Army, even with its 10 wins and Armed Forces Bowl championship, as growing pains under Collins and a defeat at the hands of Houston as the gridiron gods’ first major heads-up that Logan Marchi was NOT the guy at QB.
It took Collins nearly another month to finally get the message there, but, point is, he did get it – even in time to salvage a winning season that included just the program’s third bowl victory ever.
Nutile and Marchi – he’s not lacking for talent, just “feel” for the game – are back, as are running backs David Hood and Ryquell Armstead, who spent most of this season hobbled by nagging injuries. The defense will reload, thanks to athletes both already on campus and those coming in.
About the only spot that is a real concern is wide receiver, where the Owls lose their top two guys in Adonis Jennings and Keith Kirkwood to exhausted eligibility. But that may pave the way to Isaiah Wright becoming a full-blown star anyway. Senior-to-be Ventell Bryant brings size and skill to the equation.
Considering the disappointing 3-5 start and the specter of all the good Rhule did with the program in just four years, Collins was on the precipice of disaster – both on the field and in the hearts of anyone who gives a rat’s ass about Owls football.
But Temple finished strong, and the Gasparilla Bowl appearance actually served as a nice recruiting tool and sales pitch for Collins’ way of coaching.
So, yeah, encouraged. Not crazy encouraged, but somewhat for sure.
For those rulebook aficionados out there, take note that Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James already has made contact with the ground, with full possession of the ball, as this picture shows, while leaning across the goal line Sunday evening against the Patriots. By rule - yes, by rule - it really was a catch.
By Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
To me, it’s funny. Comical. Goofy. Silly.
Just absolutely, brain-dead, sheep-like, easy-way-out moronic that anyone defending Sunday’s decision by officials to overturn a catch that led to a touchdown by Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James would go with the classic fallback, “well, it was the right call according to the rulebook.”
Not for nothing, but y’all might wanna actually get out the reading glasses and do a little studying.
Because James’ catch most certainly was, well, a catch … by rule.
Item 1 to Article 3 (Completed or Intercepted Pass) clearly states that when a player going to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), such as James was, he “must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone” for a pass to be complete.
James’ initial contact with the ground occurred just inside the 1-yard line with – pay attention now; that includes you, too, Cris Carter – both of his feet (not one, CC, both), his left leg and, for you ladies or fellas interested in such things, butt cheek touching the turf before he ever then twisted his body to lean across the goal line. The catch was complete right then – by rule. By the godforsaken stupid rule which so many officials, fans and even the damn rule-makers seem to confuse.
Furthermore, it couldn’t even be a catch, then fumble and recovery in the end zone by James as some had suggested. Why? Because the catch was complete at the 1, and, as such, any advancement by the Penn State into the colored grass would result in “six” moment the ball crossed the plane – which, in this case, occurred before it touched the turf and moved, sending all common sense and ability to understand words to hell.
There is no official “complete the process of the catch” that entails some cult-like understanding seemingly only shared between the NFL’s under lords and the New England Patriots and those afraid to rock the boat of either.
Here is the reality: the refs blew the call on replay. Just flat-out blew it. They got it right on the field. Then they misinterpreted the rulebook while watching video.
Usually in the Pats’ favor. But, ya know, that’s another beef for another day.
Yo, the Steelers could have put this one away numerous times. James’ “non”-catch, while looming so large ever since darkness descended upon western Pennsylvania’s incredibly unheralded hub Sunday evening, would have been a total non-issue had Pittsburgh not gone ultra-conservative up 8 entering the fourth quarter.
At worst, a gimme game-tying field goal looming, the home team heads to OT if Ben Roethlisberger just throws it away with the clock winding down instead of trying to force an ill-advised slant pass to Eli Rogers that got deflected and intercepted to end the game with 5 seconds remaining.
Frankly, not sure what was worse in this one: an all-time mistake by one of my all-time faves or yet another game-deciding screw-up by the officials.
Just glad everything was “right” at the end.
Yeah, Villanova was, and is, very good and ranked No. 1 in the country. But the problem isn't that Temple lost to its Big Five rival last week. It is that it didn't even show up - at home, no less - against the Wildcats, as evidenced by this first-half shot of the scoreboard at the Liacouras Center. That is on Owls head coach Fran Dunphy.
By Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
That did it for me.
Loyal fan. Solid supporter of the program. Even a former season-ticketholder.
After witnessing firsthand this latest edition of Temple University men’s basketball, though, roll over and play dead in its most stern test of the 2017-18 campaign, am done.
Won’t ever spend another dime on seeing the Owls coached by Fran Dunphy.
Sorry, get it. Good guy. Solid coach. Nice representative of the school.
But he just doesn’t fit on North Broad.
He never did, and he never will.
Round peg, meet square hole. Been witnessing this mismatch since 2006, painfully aware that it likely would never change, but ever hopeful it would. Obviously, though, more than a decade later, it isn't going to at this point.
As silly and as mentally pedestrian as it may seem, there really is something to culture and the atmosphere around a place, or even a team.
While Dunphy’s rock-solid, above-reproach character and aesthetically pleasing to the eye philosophy to playing hoops blended perfectly at Penn, both have failed – on the court – at Temple.
Gritty, edgy, bordering on too physical, and emotional, is what works on the hardwood at Philly’s largest university – always has, and always will … and seeing none of that, yet again, existent in last week’s godawful matchup with top-ranked Villanova, well, yeah, am out.
Even now, it still burns. Rightfully so. It was embarrassing to sit there, as an alum, and watch things devolve right from the opening tip – realizing the script already had been written before the opening tip.
Forget winning. How about showing up?
Look, we got it – all 10,000 of us in the stands, not to mention anyone who took even just a passing interest outside the Liacouras Center. If Temple were to win, it would have ranked among the biggest upsets in city history, if not college basketball history.
But the Owls, even with Dunphy getting in a solid decade and change of under-recruiting for the fifth-winningest program in the sport’s annals, ain’t exactly barren-cupboard material on the talent front. They’re not loaded. But they do have two guys worthy of NBA attention – one for his rising potential in 6-8 swing man Quinton Rose and another for his “how the eff is he not a superstar” skills in 6-10 forward Obi Enechionyia.
Not even midway through the first half, they were down 20. At home.
The little signs of life, provided by Rose and Aaron Brown after that, were quickly blotted out by Temple’s own listless efforts as much as the Jalen Brunson-led Wildcats’ greatness.
But the masses accept mediocrity now for the Owls. Some even managed to point out how Villanova’s lead never ballooned beyond 23 points.
It has come to this for a once-proud program, and, sad to say, it is going to stay that way as long as Dunphy remains coach.
It just is.
Only without a dime coming from here to fund it anymore.
That ship has sailed, and wise Owls fans would be on the next one to follow. Otherwise nothing will change.