It didn’t take long.
Heck, it didn’t even take until the game was over.
With Temple putting the finishing touches on a potential program-building win against Penn State, the mumbling started.
Hey, this Franklin can’t coach.
What is he doing?
Stop running the ball!!!
You know, maybe Rhule would come back. Penn State grad and all. Played under Paterno ...
Ugh. Can’t really blame the Nittany Lions’ faithful for turning their wistful eyes in the direction of the Owls’ sideline, especially when one of their own was leading the opposition to victory Saturday, but, c’mon, can we let the guy create his own path … and, by doing so, possibly allow him to take Temple to heights that no one can remember?
Who knows, maybe James Franklin’s smoke-and-mirrors motivational act may turn out to have some substance after all, PSU peeps. Just, umm, leave our man, Matt Rhule, alone.
I get many Temple fans’ allegiance to former coaches Wayne Hardin and Al Golden. Hardin was a likable, no-nonsense coach from Navy who made the Owls relevant in the region and good enough to challenge the Lions every once in a while back in the 1970s. His ’79 squad, in fact, remains the only one to finish ranked in Temple’s history, and, hilariously, ahead of a Penn State team that beat his Owls that same season.
Golden took a program that had sunk several levels below “dumpster fire” and somehow, in some way, ignited a three-run of success considered the best in school history that carried over into Steve Addazio’s carpet-bagging expedition before the latter bottomed out and bailed for his next “dream job,” Boston College.
That paved the way for Rhule. Oddly enough, he would be returning to Temple as head coach in 2012 after a run as offensive coordinator there that drew reviews mixed enough that they led Addazio to demote him, which sparked Rhule’s move to the New York Giants to coach the offensive line.
Now, whether or not Rhule learned some special running-the-show skills from Tom Coughlin or always had them in him to begin with, his leadership qualities and ability to see the big picture have Temple poised to take a path not previously taken in my lifetime.
His first team won two games. His next six. This one, his third, just accomplished something no other Owls squad had been able to do in the last 74 years: beat Penn State.
When the Lions’ connection has been brought up, Rhule has been quick to point out that he considers himself more a Temple guy than anything because of the amount of time he has spent on North Broad, his combined nine years as an assistant and head coach dwarfing those four years as an undergrad in State College.
He appears to be fully invested in the Temple community and says to love Philly as well. He genuinely seems much more committed to the Owls’ program, long-term, than Golden did before making his way to Miami.
Just the same, if wins like Saturday’s continue to pile up, or ones even bigger, such as, say, this week at Cincinnati, or later against Notre Dame, or possibly in a bowl game, Rhule likely will be a wanted man by bigger-name schools, Penn State being only one of them – if the doom-and-gloom crowd decked out in Blue & White turns out to be right on Franklin.
Temple fans can only hope the school’s administration will be prepared for that, and, if need be, willing to offer what it takes to keep him.
There are many reasons why fans fall for certain sports teams and align themselves forever with that outfit.
A player, a specific play, game or season, the team’s colors or its uniforms. You name it. If there is something that turns up the interest meter or tugs at the heart strings, an allegiance can be born and continue to blossom.
The romantic among us often innately opt for the hard-luck cases, the teams or players or coaches who may come oh-so-close yet never quite get over the hump.
The bottom-liners are about wins, at least initially when they’re seeking a team to call their own. Once they find a suitable target, they’re on it like white on rice.
Here, in Philly, the sports fan masses always have been about Philly. If you’re from here, you have to be in lockstep with the teams that call Philly home. If not, the True Philly Fans shout, you’re a fraud. No exceptions.
It’s kinda silly when you think about it. You have to be beholden to local teams if you’re from here … even if you don’t necessarily like the teams or their players or their colors or their stadiums? No choices. No exceptions. If it’s a Philly team, it is your team … if you are a True Philly Fan.
OK, so be it.
Which brings me to the current state of fandom in Philly, with part of it starting to align itself in support of Temple University’s football team on the heels of Saturday’s 27-10 victory against some visiting squad decked out in all-white practice gear.
Who was that again?
Let me, as a Temple alum and longtime fan, not True Philly Fan, say this to anyone who either wasn’t on board with the Owls before, or perhaps was afraid to announce their emotional link to Temple, but now is or has … greetings. You are welcome here. To True Philly Fans previously lost but finally having found their way, you are welcome as well. We’re glad you finally made it home. This is where you belonged all along, and we hope you stay.
To the natives and residents who claim to be True Philly Fans and have famously and loudly cast their lot with the likes of Penn State (or Notre Dame or anyone else), shunning, if not outright mocking Temple in the process, and continue to do so in misguided, sore-loser fashion, look in the mirror, stare long and hard, and grasp this ultimate reality: You are a freakin’ fraud.
True Philly Fan, my yaaash.
Anyone from here who didn’t attend Penn State (or Notre Dame) or have a child do so, going off your own TPF unwritten code, has absolutely no business “choosing” the Nittany Lions (or the Irish) over the Owls in a rooting sense. Hey, as a True Philly Fan, you have no option to choose. You are Philly, you root on Philly … always, no exceptions, remember? That means Temple, the team that calls North Broad home when it isn’t playing at your beloved Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field on fall Saturdays, is YOUR squad. Some outfit that is nestled among the mountainous hills in the western half of the state is not. Never has been. Never will be. Sorry.
Hell, Penn State is no more “Philly” than Pitt or Syracuse or Maryland or Southern Cal is when you come to grips with the outside-True-Philly-Fan-radius limits, and it’s far, faaaar less “Philly” than Rutgers. If you wanna debate that, fine. You're flat-out wrong, but, go ahead, debate away. When it comes to Temple, though, fuhgettaboutit. There is no debate. It is “Philly.” As “Philly” as Philly gets.
Penn State? Ummm, not so much. In fact, not at all.
Of all the pompous, egotistical, elitist and delusional ranting that has surfaced since the weekend with Temple finally ending a multi-generational losing streak to Penn State that could have, if not should have, ceased several times in the last 74 years, the most glaring and ill-conceived comments among the “We Are … Lose-Ers” True Philly Fan crowd was the griping about people jumping on the Owls’ bandwagon. As if the Johnny-Come-Latelies have cornered the market on fan fraudulence.
Holy pot-calling-kettle-black. Talk about clueless AND full of it. The whole reason why these frauds ever chose Penn State over Temple in the first place is because the Lions were the “winning” organization. It’s that simple, and, unfortunately, for you True Philly Fans who went that way, sorry, it don’t matter. You win AND lose with your Philly teams. There is no switching to another, or even initially choosing another, because it’s more successful … and certainly not if it’s outside the city.
Alums from other city schools rooting against Owls football? Sorry, not applicable. Read your own hypocritical oath: No exceptions. Always Philly. When it comes to the college gridiron at the highest level, you have one choice: Temple.
Own it, deal with it … and join in, otherwise you are a freakin’ fraud of the highest order.
Frankly, I’d even put most area PSU alumni in the same group. Even the most vocal, with sportstalk radio shows that allow you to promote your convoluted “wisdom.” You never would have went to State College in the first place if you weren’t a fraud, and you certainly wouldn’t have chosen to root for the Nittany Lions over Temple (or any other city school in any other sport) if you had … unless you never claimed to be a True Philly Fan anyway.
In that case, you’re fine. You’re normal. You don’t get special dispensation, because you didn’t need it … since you never professed belonging to that inane, insane True Philly Fan crap.
The only people who’d have legit reasons to knock those opting to support the Owls now would be the fans, alumni, players, coaches and administrators who had stood behind the Temple football program all along, the ones who had endured all the losing, all the ribbing from Penn State fans, all the condescending, back-handed “compliments” for non-accomplishments by the Owls.
But, really, why would they?
Temple, not only with its football program but as an institution, always has been about inclusion, about opening its doors to all comers, especially those who may not have been dealt the best hands but want to better themselves and are willing to do whatever it takes in order to do so.
Funny, that sounds like a “true” winning operation to me. Always.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com