It came as no surprise when Temple football coach Al Golden interviewed for Syracuse's head-coaching job earlier this month.
Golden might field a similar overture or two in the coming weeks after deciding he was not interested in the job. (New Orleans Saints assistant Doug Marrone accepted the Syracuse coaching job last night, ESPN reported.)
Last winter, after Temple finished 4-8 in his second season, Golden interviewed for the job at UCLA before withdrawing his name.
Temple has not finished with a winning record since going 7-4 in 1990. This year's Owls went 5-7, including a 4-4 mark in the Mid-American Conference.
Golden took over a Temple program that suffered through an 0-11 season in '05.
"I wish I could say it's gone by quickly, but there's been nothing quick about it," Golden said of his first three years with the team. "If you look at where we were three years ago - or the first half of last season, when we started out 0-5 - it's a completely different team right now. This year is a very significant stepping-stone for our program."
Golden's team averaged 36.7 points per game in its last four outings this season. The Owls got starting quarterback Adam DiMichele back the week before they started that scoring burst.
The senior had missed three games with a shoulder injury he suffered during Temple's 45-3 defeat at Penn State on Sept. 20, and without its leader, Temple went 1-2 with redshirt freshman Chester Stewart at quarterback.
In Temple's 55-52 victory over Eastern Michigan in the next-to-last game of his college career, DiMichele set a school record with six touchdown passes. Wide receiver Bruce Francis established a modern-day school standard with four touchdown receptions in that game.
Francis, a senior who was a third-team all-MAC selection, leaves Temple as its all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 23. He also holds a school record with catches in 38 straight games.
In the spring, Golden will add 15 players who redshirted this season. On Feb. 4, about 25 recruits are expected to sign letters of intent.
"I like where we're positioned right now," Golden said. "We return an inordinate amount of guys with experience. I think they get it now. Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom. . . . I can't look at it any other way than optimistically.
"It's not about [just] competing anymore. In terms of taking the next step, we were in [11 of the 12 games] that we played with a chance to win. That is very significant in terms of building a program. The next step for us is to win some of the games we had a chance to win this year."
Three players commit. Temple announced three oral commitments yesterday, bringing the number of recruits to 16.
Committing to the Owls were 6-foot-1, 205-pound linebacker Blaze Caponegro of Wall High School in northern New Jersey; two-way back Byron Parker, a 6-foot, 178-pound star at Tallwood High in Virginia Beach, Va.; and 6-2, 200-pound wide receiver Keith Carlos of Lackawanna (Pa.) College.
Ticket sales begin. Temple season tickets for the 2009 season will go on sale tomorrow.
Season tickets for the six home games range from $90 to $250. Temple will play Villanova, Army, and four Mid-American Conference opponents at Lincoln Financial Field next fall. The Owls' full schedule will be announced by the MAC in March.