Tough sell in town.
Not so tough outside of town.
That is Temple University football, even today. While respect remains an issue in Philly, the program seems to have gained a measure of respect everywhere outside of the city’s limits.
Not only were Sunday’s regular polls an indication of how well the Owls’ football program is perceived, the team only dropping two spots after suffering its first loss of 2015 the night before, but the first College Football Playoff rankings hit two days later and had Temple a spot one higher.
Sitting at 22 there, and 23 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls, coach Matt Rhule’s crew clearly has gained the attention of those in the know around the nation. Obviously, beating then-No. 9 Notre Dame last weekend would have been the best it could have done, but Temple acquitting itself well while losing 24-20 wasn’t the worst, either.
The Owls remain in the hunt for an American Athletic Conference title, with fellow ranked squads Memphis and Houston appearing to be their biggest challenges, and, frankly, a New Year’s bowl berth that likely would go with that honor.
Right now, despite the murmuring by detractors, Temple deserves to be exactly where it is. Voters, if nothing else, recognized that it was every bit a legit challenge for the Irish, whose only loss came in a 24-22 defeat at the hands of the CFP ranking’s No. 1, Clemson, and awarded Temple for that.
It probably also didn’t hurt that a pair of quality teams, Penn State and Cincinnati, the Owls beat early this season have regained some cachet the last couple months, not to mention that they have arguably the best defensive player in college football with linebacker Tyler Matakevich, whose all-around brilliance was on full display for a national-TV audience watching the ND matchup.
Good. All good … if they can avoid a letdown after that loss.
To the uninformed masses who seem to permeate the sports society of our fair city and its surrounding region, Temple University’s football team had been something far less than an afterthought for as long as the living among us can truly remember. If the mood struck or energy kicked in, perhaps a snicker or condescending comment could be generated to express just how “appreciated” the hometown Owls were.
Frankly, considering the product being put out there comprised of student-athletes matriculating along North Broad often didn’t deserve much more. So no one, not even yours truly, could really justify ripping the insight, or lack thereof, curdling like two-month-old milk within the membranes of the unthinking and uncaring when it doesn’t come to Philly pro sports or front-running with non-pro outsiders.
But now? Well, now, the stupidity that somehow still continues to surface … it’s so far beyond infuriating or even comical, it’s just become cute.
Oh, yeah, Temple just decided to become relevant over the past month. It had been mulling it over the last few years, thought about it, and just went ahead and said, yeah, what the hell, why not? Just have Penn State and Notre Dame come to town on a whim, they can rework the schedule any time for that to happen. The rest of the American Athletic Conference seems to be doing well? Hey, no sense not getting on board with that.
A personal fave heard floating around sportstalk radio now that Temple administrators recently announced that funding is moving along quite well with regard to a proposed on-campus stadium … hmmm, why would the school just up and decide to do that? Seems a bit much, considering the Owls are just starting to win a few games this season.
Yeah, that’s right. The stadium idea. That’s brand new. Never been broached before.
Idiots. Moronic, brain-dead idiots. Like hot blondes – just without the hot or the blonde. But cute, now.
How adorable it is that some think … well, they don’t think. That’s the cutest part about it. They don’t know. They don’t want to know. But they want to give their two cents just the same.
Gee, looks like Temple is stepping out a bit more than it should.
Thanks for the input. Enjoy the lobotomy before giving it?
Not for nothing, but the reality is something like the Owls’ emergence, even if it turns out to be short-lived, takes time. Recruiting, scheduling, planning, hiring, advertising, marketing … a lot of things have gone on – just to nudge the noggin of the majority out there to let it know that, hey, Temple has a program, it’s improving, it may even have the makings of something pretty good.
Of course, that majority didn’t notice the pretty good until Temple already achieved. That’s fine. But failing to grasp that anything went into that prior to the masses awakening is just so, sooo darn cute.
The stadium idea? That’s been floated about for generations, but even in Temple’s most secluded circles it never received much street cred until Al Golden arrived in 2005, put an end to the dumpster fire and started talking about – guess what – a 35,000-seat on-campus stadium. Yeah, that same Al Golden, the one run outta Miami last week. He somehow managed to make the Owls relevant in rather rapid fashion, not on the national front, but in the Mid-American Conference.
It was a stepping stone, part of the process … to helping the Owls get where they are now. In between, the team rattled off a school-best 26 wins in a three-year span, earned two bowl berths and one bowl victory. It re-entered the Big East before it imploded, and ultimately landed in that conference’s offshoot, the AAC. Not the super-de-duper big time, but pretty big, and they’ve been getting pretty good for a while now.
This is not some “new,” overnight thing. It’s been brewing since Golden got to Philly, passed the torch to Steve Addazio and then ultimately saw it land in the hands of his former assistant, Matt Rhule.
After losing 10 of his first 11 games as coach, and, by the way, five of those by a single score, Rhule has gone 14-7 since.
So, to the “geniuses” out there, while the world may revolve around your own timetable in your own head, the reality is something else. Temple has been building to what you now see for some time. You just haven’t taken the time to notice.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org