When postseason berths were awarded to 70 Football Bowl Subdivision squads on Sunday, Temple of the Mid-American Conference was not among the invitees.
In a field in which there were two more bowl-eligible teams than spots, 6-6 Western Michigan of the MAC was also left out. This marked the first year that a .500 record was good enough for a team to be considered for a bowl, and that proved problematic for Temple: This also marked the first time that an eight-win team was passed over for squads that went 7-5 or 6-6.
"I'm disappointed for our student-athletes, especially for a remarkable group of seniors who are the first group since 1982 to graduate with a winning record," Temple coach Al Golden said in a statement. "It's unfortunate for everyone in the Temple community, because this team is truly worthy of a bowl."
According to a source with knowledge of the process, Temple's last chance for a bowl appearance this year was the Dec. 18 New Orleans Bowl. But that spot went to Ohio, another MAC team, which was selected over the Owls by virtue of the Bobcats' win this season in head-to-head competition.
That means Temple's 31-23 loss to Ohio on Nov. 16 at Lincoln Financial Field wound up costing the Owls twice.
That defeat to Ohio also eliminated Temple from the race for the MAC East Division title. Both teams finished 8-4 overall. Ohio went 6-2 in the MAC to Temple's 5-3.
Temple running back Bernard Pierce, an all-MAC first-team player, missed all but one play of that game - and all of the game against Miami of Ohio - with a hamstring injury.
The MAC teams that made bowl games are Miami of Ohio, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Ohio. Toledo went 7-1 in the league's West Division but was outdone by Northern Illinois' 8-0 mark.
"It's especially disappointing for the players and coaches who won eight games against a tough schedule," Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said on Sunday from Washington, where the Owls played a basketball game against Maryland at the Verizon Center. "Seven bowl postseason teams, including Villanova. They deserved to go to a bowl game."
Last year, Temple made its first bowl appearance in 30 years after going 9-3. UCLA was the Owls' opponent for the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, where the Bruins were 30-21 winners.
This fall, Temple was the preseason favorite to take the MAC championship. Going into their last two games, the Owls were in position to accomplish that. But the loss to Ohio ended the team's hopes, and a 23-3 defeat at Miami of Ohio followed.
Miami defeated Northern Illinois for the MAC championship on Friday.
In the end, Temple's nonconference victories over the Big East Conference's Bowl Championship Series representative, Connecticut, and at bowl-bound Army, were not enough. The Owls' losses to Northern Illinois, Ohio, and Miami in league play apparently counted more than their 3-1 nonleague record.
But aside from the BCS bowls, the criteria for making it into the postseason vary from bowl to bowl, and it's usually not about wins and losses.
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit is believed to have chosen Toledo because the Rockets are located close enough for a strong contingent of the fans to attend the game. Miami will play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala.; Northern Illinois is in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho; and Ohio's destination is the New Orleans Bowl.