A Temple football fan of long standing emailed in early August, noting that while the Owls’ product on the field has improved dramatically in recent seasons, a general awareness of that improvement seems to be missing in Philadelphia.
“If these so-called ‘real football fans’ really knew that Temple football has progressed immensely, I like to think they would start coming to games at the Linc and literally buying into the true reality that there is some real good entertaining college football going on in their backyards,’’ the man continued. “If they would give it one shot on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, they would come away with having a great big-time college football experience that they’ve only been getting on television over the years.”
We’ve never met, but he wanted me to write all that, that I just needed to write it (since it happens to be the truth) and more people would show up. I responded how writing such a thing wouldn’t get 100 extra people in the place, that we write about Temple football all the time.
Here’s the thing …
Maybe he’s got a point.
Not telling people how to spend their money, just noting that Saturday’s Maryland game, beyond the W or the L, provided entertainment. The diehards were all there. Attendance was announced as 30,610, and while that seemed a bit high, it wasn’t crazy high. (Week 1, 26,378 for Bucknell, that was crazy high, whatever formula Temple uses to come up with an attendance figure.)
This isn’t the same old tired attendance or stadium debate. The point is, Temple plays legit football. Often, the way people notice is if the Owls knock off Penn State or take Notre Dame to the end (or both, in same season), but those teams aren’t on the schedule.
You’ve got Georgia Tech coming in, with former Owls head coach Geoff Collins in charge. After that, Memphis and Central Florida show up and those two are big-time football teams. Among the three undefeated American Athletic Conference programs, they already have wins over the SEC (Memphis over Ole Miss), the Pac-12 (UCF over Stanford), and the Big Ten (Maryland.)
Maryland didn’t count for 1 ½ wins, new Temple head coach Rod Carey pointed out after the thriller. Right, and very wrong. In this city, you lose a close one right away and people kind of nod and say, yeah, whatever. It isn’t Carey’s job to put people in the seats. (Nor is it mine.) But it is his job to show that Temple wasn’t nuts to give him the job. So far, he’s easily over that bar.
If I were a top-25 voter, I’d include the 2-0 Owls right now. (I get why they’re not, though. Don’t schedule Bucknell if you want to be in the top 25 from a non-Power 5 conference.) If I were an oddsmaker, I’d have a Penn State-Temple game on a neutral field pretty close to even.
Temple’s defense proved to be special Saturday against the Terps, who simply couldn’t handle the constant pressure.
There is a lot to improve on, offensively and especially after an abysmal special-teams effort that almost cost Temple the game. That’s completely on Carey, who decided he didn’t need Ed Foley running his special teams and made his choices on specialists. (My guess: This stuff mostly gets fixed. He was still wrong on Foley.)
Even though Temple’s offense didn’t always move, the Owls again looked like they’d practiced. Plays were run with some sophistication. The new coaches know what they’re doing and seem to recognize they have talent at their disposal.
Whether any of that makes you want to show up Sept. 28 and give Owls football a shot, that’s obviously up to you. Whatever happens Saturday at Buffalo, it’s not the “same old Temple,” hasn’t been for some time. If anything, the resilience shown by all these players through all those coaching changes seems worthy of your applause.