Thursday, December 31, 2009

"So, other than the ending, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

The EBB's MVPs (most valuable persons)=Temple's fans

2010 Recruiting checklist:
1. Long-snapper
2. Pass rushing DE
3. Big-time JUCO QB
WASHINGTON, D.C. _ Walking out of RFK Stadium, I thought about this town just about 150 years ago.
Ford's Theater, the place where Abraham Lincoln was shot, is only two blocks away from the Renaissance Marriott, the Temple team hotel.
I thought about the famous phrase born out of that tragedy.
"So, other than the ending, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"
If we have any Temple fans named Mrs. Lincoln who care as much about the Owls winning as I do, she'd probably say the same thing about Tuesday's EagleBank Bowl game with UCLA.
Liked both the play and the game, but the ending was, err, shot.
Check. (Owls were leading, 21-20, 2 minutes, 29 seconds into the final act, err, quarter.)
Hardin: 'You always wanted to put your team in a position to go.'

"Cal wanted to exchange films of every game," Hardin recalled. "Usually you just take the first one, one in the middle and the last one. So I said, 'Find out which coaches on their staff want them?' Turned out, it was the defensive coaches. OK. We spent night after night after night, digging and digging and digging. We came up with one or two things we had to do.
"We found out that if we pulled our guards up the middle, we'd end up with one of them going down the field untouched into the secondary. So did the back. Get the hell out of the way. There was no one to block. We had 21 points on the board before we even started. We probably would never have discovered that, had we not graded all the film. That's how things work. You just don't know. They did me a favor. We got into the defensive coach's head."

The Owls outrushed the Golden Bears, 300 yards to 23.

"It's unbelievable," Hardin went on. "The quarterback [Rich Campbell] was taught, which we knew, to read when he didn't see anything [to] throw blindly into the flat to the fullback. I mean, game after game. The fullback was catching the ball and making big yards. So we developed a two-man [pass] rush, which we wouldn't have done. We'd have one guy come up to meet the fullback, whichever way he went, 5 yards deep in the backfield. And eight guys would drop into coverage. So there's nothing to read, except a lot of jerseys.

"The first time they do it, they completed it. I told Vince Hoch, the defensive coach, 'We worked on this. If our kid can't get to the guy, put [somebody else] in there.' I had already told [linebacker] Steve Conjar that he was going to intercept one for a touchdown. The second time, he makes a tackle. The third time, the ball hits him in the hands and he drops it. He would've walked in.

"You always wanted to put your team in a position to go."
Complete Mike Kern story here
Well, 20,000 of the 23,000 were from Temple, so check. Great job by our terrific fans, by the way. Loud and proud and everything I dreamed they would be.
In the seconds before Temple scored that second touchdown, the loud "Let's Go Temple" cheer shook the old stadium so much I thought it was going to collapse.
Jonathan Tannenbaum, in his excellent blog Soft Pretzel Logic, wrote that the roar of the Temple fans after the first touchdown was "as loud I have heard for any" D.C. United soccer goal in that stadium.
D.C. United, by the way, has scored a lot of goals in that stadium.
Maybe three or four thousand.
So Temple's fans deserve my MVP (most valuable persons).
Then the game, like the Mrs. Lincoln's play, imploded.
I don't care too much about theater, but I care a lot about the game, the team and the school involved, that's probably why I walked around the stadium about 45 times before leaving Tuesday night.
"I thought you were still walking around the stadium," my friend, Mark, said when I finally arrived at the team hotel.
Hell, if I didn't realize I was in a supposed dangerous neighborhood (I couldn't tell, but my pre-game briefing cautioned me), I'd probably still be walking around the stadium.
On the train down to D.C., I read a terrific article by Mike Kern on Temple's last bowl game and how Wayne Hardin outsmarted Roger Theder, the then California coach.
Hardin said Cal asked for game films, then made a point to ask his assistants which Cal assistants wanted the films. He gave them three, then tailored the game plan to counter what the Cal assistants would see.
In the seconds before Temple scored that second touchdown, the loud "Let's Go Temple" cheer shook the old stadium so much I thought it was going to collapse.
Pure genius.
Pure freaking genius.
I wasn't surprised. Hardin outsmarted everybody, including Joe Paterno.

    Other thoughts walking around RFK:
  • On my 24th pass around the stadium, I wondered why it's always TU messing up on center snaps and never another team.
  • On my 27th pass around the stadium, I wondered why Kee-ayre Griffin wasn't out there at right cornerback (I saw him at the team hotel and he looked healthy and wasn't limping).
  • On my 29th pass around the stadium, I wondered where was Jason Harper, who defined the term "warrior" all season and someone who can make yards after the catch and refuses to go down.
  • On my 32d pass around the stadium, I wondered what would have happened had their been a smooth transition of Adam DiMichele to a quarterback with similar skills and toughness and leadership.
    (There wasn't.)
  • On my 37th pass, I wondered what Chester Stewart did wrong to lose his job over the last month.

  • On about my 44th pass around the stadium, with steam coming out of my ears (I swear it was from being mad TU lost, but it was probably just the cold), I thought about that Hardin story.

Could you imagine Al Golden intentionally deceiving a fellow member of the coaching fraternity so Temple could benefit?
Could you see Al Golden cutting Rick Neuheisel's throat (I mean that figuratively, of course) to win a game?
I couldn't.
Al Golden is a very good coach in every way and a great (and I mean GREAT) CEO/Ambassador of Temple football, but I'm not ready to say he's a great game coach.
Or even a better-than-average one.
I will say that when I see Temple do all the little things (i.e., fix the kicking game) a good team needs to do routinely. I mean, snaps on punts are routine for just about everyone else.
Why not Temple?
Jonathan Tannenbaum, in his excellent blog Soft Pretzel Logic, wrote that the roar of the Temple fans after the first touchdown was "as loud I have heard for any" D.C. United soccer goal in that stadium.
From the Ball State game on, snapping on punts has been a needless adventure and the CEO needed to fix that long before now.
That's what he needs to do before I can call him an above-average game-day coach.
Great game-day coach?
Who knows how long that will take, but I don't think it will be long because Al is a smart guy. Remember, Hardin came to Temple as a head coach with prior experience from a then big-time Navy program. Golden, who was never a head coach before, is still learning on the job.
Hardin was a smart guy and great game coach and he'd do everything short of robbing a bank to win a big game for Temple. That's how much Temple winning meant to him.
Afterward, Al Golden said he hopes the team learns from the experience.
I hope he doesn't exclude himself from doing the same.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I prefer this version of the EagleBank Bowl

This is the way I thought it would play out ...
I'm never going to use this blog to criticize the kids, but let's just say I'm hopeful certain players who had prominent roles last night get diminished ones next year.
I've always said that last year should have been a better year, but this year's gravvy and next year's the year.
If the devil came to me with a contract before the Villanova game and said 9-4, I would have signed off on that.
(Now if he had said 7-5 with a bowl and a win over Villanova, I would have traded for that, but that's another story.)
We'll talk about the X's and O's some other time.
I'm excited to see a healthy Bernard Pierce for a full year.
I'm excited to see that we'll have a Nate Smith or a an Ahkeem Smith or a Nahjee Gibson (no relation) as an option should he go down again.
I'm excited to finally get some balance in our offense.
I'm excited to see what a defensive front four that includes Mo Wilkerson at an end (yes, I'd move him to end) and Levi Brown and Kadeem Custis at tackles can bring.
Heck, I'd go with a 3-4, move Adrian Robinson to RUSH linebacker, put Brown on the nose and Custis and Big Mo at the ends and move Amara Kamara back to his natural linebacker position.
No X's and O's talk today.
Just looking ahead to our next BOWL game.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The EagleBank Bowl Survival Guide

Photos by Ratna
The Eagle Bank Bowl gambled and rolled the dice with weather.
Actually, it's a gamble any outdoor Northeast bowl takes this time of year.
It could have won.
It could have lost.
I will call this year's bowl, at least in terms of weather, a push.
The "average" high temperature for Washington, D.C. for Dec. 29th is 48 degrees.
The high on Tuesday is expected to be 16 degrees below that, or freezing.
It's going to be cold.
It's going to be damn cold.
It might be the coldest Temple football game I've ever attended and I've attended most over the last 30 years.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that there won't be a snowstorm.
So weather, at least in my mind, is a push.
You can play football in it and, if you are a smart fan, you can survive in it.
I consider myself a smart fan, so here's my survival plan:

  • Two (2) T-shirts;
  • Two pairs of sweat pants;
  • Three (3) pairs of socks;
  • Two Temple sweatshirts, both hooded (I will wear the zippered one on top of the regular Cherry Temple one);
  • Ear Muffs;
  • One light pair of gloves to be worn under one heavy pair of gloves;
  • One heavy winter coat, to be worn on top of everything (also with a hood);

The all-time low D.C. temperature for Tuesday is minus-2 degrees.
Just be thankful you aren't these girls:

If these girls can be there (and they will), so can you ...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Temple's fans need to respond in a big way

Graphics courtesy of Victory Engineer (I had nothing to do with the incorrect use of the word your, but the graphic is too good to leave it out).
Every morning for the past month or so, I've gotten up and wiped the sand from my eyes, stretched a little bit and sprinted to the door for the morning paper.
I quickly thumbed to the second sports page and checked the bowl pairings.
There it was.
I wasn't dreaming after all.
Thirty years of being bowl-less will play mind games with a person's psyche.
Temple's football team is in a bowl game and the opponent, geez, is UCLA.
It's not in Idaho or Kansas, either.
It's in D.C.
It's within driving distance.
How the hell did we not win the Mid-American Conference (err, that would be no pass rush or blitz) and get the marquee matchup of all MAC matchups?
I pinched myself for good measure to see if that part wasn't a dream, either.
I'm so pumped I would walk down to D.C. to see the Owls in a bowl game but, thanks to Amtrak, I don't have to do that.

"I hate to say it but it's doubtful that I will be going ... I don't want to go alone ... secondly, I just can't see myself sitting outside on a December night. ... I can't take the cold ..."
alleged Temple fan Philly Brian on
After about 10 days of going through this routine, I logged onto a computer.
Sports message boards are the next stop on the technology train above sports talk radio. You can check the pulse of the sports community by reading these boards and you can even add a viewpoint or two without having to talk to a producer.
Most of the fans were like me, pumped and ready for the trip.
Then I came across a segment of the fan base that pretty much disgusts me.
The posting was entitled "The EagleBank Bowl is pretty much a made for TV game" and the poster went on to say that because "it'll be too cold and I'm all alone I'll be watching this game on TV."
I'm going all by myself and it'll be just as cold for me. Fifty percent or so of the people I know going to this game will be making the trip alone and I'm guessing it will be just as cold for them, too. I know at least four guys driving up to the game from Florida and my guess is that it will be colder for them than all of us.
It's almost fitting that fate would place the Owls in the town of Obama because, for Temple, this matchup is all about hope.
Hope that Temple's football program has arrived to the point it can beat a name BCS school.
Hope that Temple can prove to the nation its fans care.
We'll find out both Tuesday. The Owls must win and they must prove to be a big-time draw.
Conferences are realigning as we speak and nothing would be a better 1-2 punch to the nation that Temple has arrived than winning the game on the field and in the stands. It'll be on national TV. This is a dress rehearsal for the big time in more ways than one.
"Yes, Virginia, there is an EagleBank Bowl. And yes, Temple will play UCLA there on Dec. 29.
Is it just another meaningless bowl? Yes... Will it be the most beautiful football game I've ever witnessed? Yes."
_Todd Stanford, The Daily Item, Dec. 23d, 2009
(Temple grad)
The guy, any guy, who pretends to be a Temple fan and can't even get off his ass to get on a train or a Greyhound Bus or thumb a ride to get down there is really not a Temple fan at all.
This is a time for all Temple fans to answer the Clarion call.
The Temple fan base isn't big enough that we can afford to have even one of the "hardcore base" sit at home and watch the game on TV and I don't care how cold it is. I've always said and I think I'm right that Temple has a hardcore base of 15K and a softcore group of 20K.
In D.C., the entire hardcore base is required to be there and, on top of that, an urgent appeal is being made to many of the softcore fans as well.
In my mind, Temple has two magic numbers to reach to impress people across the nation on Tuesday.
They must draw more than 28,786 (what Navy and Wake Forest drew last year) and they must have more points than UCLA at the end.
I know the football team can hold up its part of the bargain.
The time has come for the fans to do the same.

Monday, December 21, 2009

T minus 1 week: Are you ready for some BOWL football?

I want to see a crowd this big at RFK Tuesday night, wearing all Cherry and White.

Free tickets

ESPN's Harry Mayes (left) will give away free trips (transportation and tickets) to the Eagle Bank Bowl. Listen at 12:45 and call in to 97.5 The Fan
Tuesday and Wednesday
By Mike Gibson
I had to laugh when I read in the Atlantic City Press this week that "this UCLA team might be better than the Cal team Temple faced in the Garden State Bowl."
It was written by someone who did nothing to support her claim other than throw that opinion out there.
I wondered if she was going to use one fact to back it up but, instead, she went onto the next random baseless thought.
First of all, I respect this UCLA team.
I've read up on this UCLA team.
To paraphrase Lloyd Bensten, I knew Cal 1979 and you, UCLA 2009, are no Cal 1979.
This UCLA team is good, but the Cal team the Owls beat in the Garden State Bowl was better.
That Cal team was 25 points away from being unbeaten prior to facing Temple.
That's not many points.
This UCLA team is 83 points away from an unbeaten season.
That Cal team beat three teams with six or more wins.
That Cal team lost to then No. 1 USC (and eventual Rose Bowl champ) by just 10 points.
This UCLA team while good, doesn't have those kinds of credentials.
Still, this is a huge challenge for the Owls and the best team they will face since the Penn State game. That didn't go well because the Owls got atrocious quarterback play in that game. Other than Vaughn Charlton hitting James Nixon in the hands for what should have been a 70-yard touchdown, they got no (zero, nada) plays from the quaterback position in that game. Heck, even against Eastern Michigan (Eastern Michigan, for cripes sake) they were 1 for 9 on third downs. That all comes back to the quarterback position and making plays.
You've got to get more from your quarterback to win games against a quality team.
I think these Owls will have to get exceptional quarterback play to beat this team.

Cal Bears 1979
9/8 @ *Arizona State (6-6) W 17 9
9/15 @ *Arizona (6-5-1) W 10 7
9/22 vs. San Jose State (6-4-1) W 13 10
9/29 vs. Michigan (8-4) L 10 14
10/6 @ *Oregon (6-5) L 14 19
10/13 vs. *Oregon State (1-10) W 45 0
10/20 @ *UCLA (5-6) L 27 28
10/27 vs. *Southern California (11-0-1) L 14 24
11/3 vs. *Washington (9-3) L 24 28
11/10 @ *Washington State (3-8) W 45 13
11/17 @ *Stanford (5-5-1) W 21 14
12/15 vs. Temple (10-2) L 17 28 @ East Rutherford, NJ Garden State Bowl
UCLA Bruins 2009
Sep. 5 San Diego St. W 33-14
Sep. 12 at Tennessee W 19-15
Sep. 19 Kansas State W 23-9
Oct. 3 at Stanford L 16-24
Oct. 10 Oregon L 10-24
Oct. 17 California L 26-45
Oct. 24 at Arizona L 13-27
Oct. 31 at Oregon State L 19-26
Nov. 7 Washington W 24-23
Nov. 14 at Wash. St. W 43-7
Nov. 21 Arizona State W 23-13
Nov. 28 at USC L 7-28
Dec. 29 vs. Temple 4:30pm

They have before.
I think Chester Stewart gave them exceptional quarterback play in the Akron game when he and Bernard Pierce helped put up 56 points.
Stewart's handoffs established Pierce as a big-time threat, then he played off the fear of Pierce with play-action passes all over the field to Temple's other playmakers.
Make no mistake about it.
Temple's got other playmakers.
James Nixon. Joey Jones. Jason Harper. Evan Rodriguez. Steve Manieri. Michael Campbell. Delano Green.
All these guys (with the possible exception of Manieri, sorry Steve) can do special things with the ball after the catch if the Owls are able to complete the intermediate and long passes.
They'll need something like that. Not the 56 points, but that kind of QB play to win this game. Spread the ball around and hit the play-action passes. Keep moving the ball around the field, not just relying on Pierce. Don't use Pierce on the first two downs and put yourself in situations where everybody in the stadium knows you are going to throw the ball on third.
These are simple, basic football idioms that offensive coordinator Matt Rhule proved he could master at Akron.
The Akron game gave Rhule a workable template of an offensive game plan. The Owls used it effectively in a 47-13 win over Kent State, but were forced away from it when Pierce got injured.
I'd like to see Rhule go back with the very same game plan he used against Akron. By establishing Pierce, then spreading the ball around, you make Pierce that much more effective when you go back to him.
But to say this UCLA team is or "might be" better than that California team is pulling something out of your backside that has no resemblance to the facts.
That Cal team had six wins.
This UCLA team has six wins.
That Temple team had nine wins.
This Temple team has nine wins.
The similarities with this game and that one ends right there.
The opportunity for Temple to gain respect nationally with a win on the field and a good showing in the stands is the same and that's important enough.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nova's Talley: Temple was best team we faced all year

Not an empty seat in the background ... of the Garden State Bowl.
Dec. 29th is the most important date in Temple sports history.
Not just Temple football.
Temple sports, period.
Not because of what the football team might do that day, but because of what YOU might do.
Yeah, you.
If you ever cared about Temple University or care about the future of Temple sports, you will be in the stands on Tuesday, Dec. 29th.
We all can't be Bill Cosby and donate millions to the university.
We all can't be Dennis Alter and write out a $15 million check to build the best business school in the nation.

Andy Talley with his daughter, Gina.

Enemy/friend Quote of The Day

"Make no mistake about it. We were lucky ... lucky ... to beat Temple. Let's not fool ourselves."
_ national championship coach and person Andy Talley, Villanova coach, in a CAA conference call
and ....
"I knew Temple had a very special team. We thought they would be the best team we saw all year. In hindsight they were."
_ Talley from post-game press conference after 23-21 win over 14-0 Montana

But we all can bring $30 or $50 to the Liacouras Center today and walk away with ducats in hand for the game on Dec. 29th.
If we work, and 90 percent of us do, we all can take a personal day that day or trade that day for another day.
We can all buy an Amtrak ticket.
If we can't afford that, we can all get to a Greyhound Bus station.
We can all drive down I-95 for two hours.
We all can do that.
And we all should.
Imagine the reaction of the nation watching IF all they see is a packed RFK Stadium (it holds 46,000 for football under its new configuration) wearing mostly Cherry and White?
It sure would open up a lot of doors to the university's sports teams that were previously closed.
The Big East, for example, might extend an all-sports invitation on, say, Dec. 30th.
That's how much of an impact a huge Temple crowd would have.
The football Owls would also have their pick of bowls next year because Owl fans have proven they can and will travel.
Today, Dec. 18th, is pretty important, too.
It's the day the tickets for the Eagle Bank Bowl have arrived at the Liacouras Center.
Ticket office workers are busy ripping them apart and sorting them for mailing.
I will be there sometime this afternoon.
If I have to wait in line to get my two ducats (I'm buying one for myself and donating one back to the student pile), it will be a great day.
If I walk into RFK Stadium and see 46,000 Temple fans, that will be the greatest day ever.
These kids and this university deserves it.
Beating UCLA would be the icing on this delicious cake.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Coach Golden tells Cincy to pound sand

No better time to turn the two Josephs and John Haley loose on the QB than now.
John Haley Photo by Ryan Porter, courtesy Porterhouse Productions

Enemy Quote of Day
"I hear Temple runs the ball a lot. ... They're like 23rd in the country in rushing, I hope they run the ball every play. I'll be waiting."
_UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter in today's Los Angeles Times

Somewhere between the time coach Al Golden told Cincinnati to pound sand (well, sort of) and now, Temple's football team first practiced at the Eagles' facility for two days last week to get away from the inclement weather.
"The Eagles were good enough to let us do that," Golden said last week at the bowl party.
Hopefully, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio rifled through Sean McDermott's drawers on the way out and stole the book that the late Jimmy Johnson wrote on blitzing.
If the Owls are serious about winning and not just making a good showing on Dec. 29, they will blitz UCLA from the opening introductions until the closing gun. Coach D'Onofrio had a reputation as an aggressive, crazy, no-holds-barred linebacker at PSU. I like that trait in my linebackers and my defensive coordinators. This year, though, for some reason I don't understand, D'Onofrio has orchestrated a conservative, bend-but-don't-break approach on defense.
UCLA has a very capable quarterback, freshman Kevin Prince, who is battling a shoulder injury right now.
Go get him and put him down hard and often.
Bring violence to the football.
People who read this blog know my philosophy of defensive football is a mind meld of Johnson's.
If you can't get to the quarterback with four, send five. If you can't get to him with six, send seven. If you can't get to him with seven, send eight.
Blitz early and often to send a message to UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow that we're not staying back in our base defense and getting picked apart like we did against good quarterbacks from Villanova, Miami and Ohio.
Surely Chow, a smart guy, will be dissecting Temple film and come to the conclusion that the Owls like to sit back in coverage rather than come after the quarterback.
What he won't see is a whole lot of blitzing.
Even though rush end Adrian Robinson leads the MAC in sacks, he'll need all the help he can get against UCLA.
I'll stop only at sending eight, because I believe Dominique Harris, Marquis Liverpool and Kee-Ayre Griffin have the talent to keep anything that breaks in front of them.
I believe a blitzing scheme is perfectly suited to the personnel Temple currently employs on defense.
The Owls have terrific run-stopping linebackers in Peanut Joseph, Alex Joseph and John Haley specifically. But those guys also have the speed and the nastiness necessary in chasing down a quarterback and either making the tackle, stripping the ball or forcing an interception.
They are not great at pass coverage, so why not sic these dogs on the quarterback instead?
That's what I'm talking about.
Hopefully, D'Onofrio smells meat and goes in for the kill on Prince, changing the Owls' scheme to where nine guys line up at scrimmage and either fake the blitz or go for the kill on every passing down.
I vote for going for the kill.
Think about it.
D'Onofrio had a reputation as an aggressive, crazy, no-holds-barred linebacker at PSU. I like that trait in my linebackers and my defensive coordinators. This year, though, for some reason I don't understand, D'Onofrio has orchestrated a conservative, bend-but-don't-break approach on defense
Over your years of watching football, what decides games more than any other factor?
Turnover ratio.
You can hope the other team fumbles or throws the ball between the two numbers on your jerseys or you can force them to do it.
Nothing puts fear in a quarterback's eyes and the ball up for grabs more than a collapsing pocket.
Nothing collapses the pocket like a blitz.
"I've tried (throwing) but I'm not at the stage where it's really comfortable," Prince said.
The whole idea is making Prince feel uncomfortable. His stats are the best of any UCLA quarterback (157 completions in 277 attempts for 1,827 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions). There's a huge dropoff in his backup, Kevin Craft (60 for 107 for 722 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions).
The game plan shouldn't be that complicated to develop and put into practice the next couple of weeks.
It's one word.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blow your whistles for Navy today

Temple footbal isn't playing today, nor will it for the better part of three weeks.
It just feels like it to me.
I'll be rooting for Navy today (2:30 p.m., CBS) against Army.
I don't know of a single Temple fan who isn't.
It's not like Temple feels the matchup with UCLA, who the Owls get to face, will be easier.
In fact, I think everybody thinks it will be the harder game of the two.
What's that they say, the higher the mountain, the more satisfying the climb?
(If they don't say that, I just made it up.)
Think about it.
Temple, a non-BCS school, against the big, bad, BCS school from the West Coast.
Does Rutgers (with UCF) have a better bowl matchup?
Does any Northeastern school, with the exception of Boston College (USC) have a more attractive bowl matchup?
I'm from the school of thought that feels we won't have to root much.
I'm still hoping that the infamous Navy fan whistle-blower is there (pictured, who ruined Temple's would-be win two years ago) is there and blows his whistle every time a Navy ballcarrier is stopped near the goal line, only to see the Navy guy continue on his feet into the end zone.
That'll help.
But I don't think Navy will need even his help today.
I've seen both Army and Navy and I can't see Army stopping Navy at all.
That's why even though Temple isn't playing today, it'll be another big win for the Owls anyway come sundown.
Once the sun comes up tomorrow, please plan to purchase your bowl tickets from Temple within the next day or two.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This picture is worth a thousand words

Click on above logo to order tickets through Temple.

Owls and Brian Sanford rejoice in one of the two greatest photos ever (the other is below). photo

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC

There's a saying way older than I am that pretty much describes what happened yesterday at the Liacouras Center.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

That might come from an old Chinese Proverb, although some internet sources dispute it.

While on the subject of a picture being worth a thousand words, UCLA will bring its cheerleaders and band to D.C., unless (wink, wink) Army beats Navy.
Until yesterday, I didn't think much of the phrase.

"Yeah, right," I always said. "The Chinese guy who wrote that never read a Gary Smith story in Sports Illustrated or never enjoyed morning coffee over a Bill Lyon column in the 1980s or never heard the beautiful word pictures as described by Vin Scully or Harry Kalas."

Then I saw the photo in today's Daily News by Charles Fox and that changed my mind.

That photo, which is credited to Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC and appears above this story, says it all.

The sheer joy on the faces of the wonderful kids who play football for Temple University is genuine and spontaneous and cannot be conveyed by mere words.

So I publish it here instead with a plea.

Nobody took a photo of us in the parking lot during that 2005 game against Miami, but it would have been a lot uglier than that beautiful shot. There were less than 10 of us left tailgating in the rain but, before we even heard about Al Golden, we had a dream that someone, someday would come and lead us back to a bowl game.

That day and that someone has come.

That's why it's important that all 21,046 of you who showed up for the last home game against Kent State purchase tickets for this "home" game in D.C.

All of you and, hopefully, 21,000 more on top of that.

For maximum impact, please purchase your tickets through Temple University by clicking on the logo above. By buying through Temple, the university will be able to show future bowls that this fan base will travel and have concrete figures to back it up.

Please buy as many as you can and give to those who can make the short trip down I-95 and cheer on these great kids. Or you can wait until Monday morning at 10 a.m. and walk up to the Liacouras Center ticket window. The best seats are on the Temple (South) side 200, 300, 400 and 500 levels. Don't buy the obstructed 100-level seats.

But buy them through Temple and don't procrastinate like thousands of folks did only to be caught waiting in long lines at the ticket windows at the last home game.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Take it to the (Eagle) Bank: Temple vs. UCLA

Eagle Bank Bowl pits Rick Neuheisel (left) against Owl Golden.
Usually, these bowl announcement shows are nothing more than a glorified version of College Gameday, ESPN's weekly pre-game show.
That's pretty much what I expected when I walked into the lobby of the Liacouras Center Sunday night.
That's what I got until there were about 15 minutes left in the show.
I certainly didn't expect to be pumping my fist and screaming, "Wow!" but that's what I found myself doing when Temple scrolled across the bottom of the screen.
... Eagle Bank Bowl ... Temple will be playing either UCLA or Army ....

Wow indeed.
The place erupted.
There were hugs, fist pumps and a very loud "Let's Go Temple" chant roared through the overpacked room. Suffice it to say there were more people in that lobby than attended Villanova's FCS quarterfinal football playoff game on the Main Line Saturday.(Good thing the Fire Marshal wasn't on Temple's campus Sunday night.)
A lot of people weren't expecting the message on that scroll.
"Remember, we have to root for Navy now," my friend, Fred, said.
I looked at him like he was just released from Byberry (that was a mental hospital from the old days for our younger readers).
"What does Navy have to do to beat Army?"
"Show up," I said.
Forget Army. I'm taking Navy and laying large coin on the Mids covering the 15 and I fully expect to collect in the RFK Stadium parking lot come Dec. 29.
I've seen both teams this year. Army's not getting closer than three touchdowns to Navy, so we're looking at playing UCLA.
It's not perfect, but it's the next-best thing and it beats the hell out of what could have happened.
Even though Temple didn't win the MAC East, it certainly got a more attractive bowl than MAC East champion Ohio. The Bobcats are playing Marshall.
That could have been a very dreary late Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., Temple vs. Marshall. Owl fans would have had to hold their nose and down the Prune Juice with that matchup.
Temple-UCLA has a whole lot of juice to it and the good-tasting kind, especially with the news yesterday that The Franchise (Bernard Pierce) was healthy and back practicing with the team.
I'm liking the symmetry here:
  • Thirty years ago, the Owls had to beat a PAC-10 team (California) to get to 10 wins and they did.
  • Now the Owls can get to 10 wins by beating a PAC-10 team.
  • Thirty years ago there were all sorts of dire predictions that Temple wouldn't travel well to the Meadowlands, yet the Owls drew the largest crowd (55,245) in the four-year history of the Garden State Bowl. Trust me, there were no Cal fans there;
  • D.C. is, like the Meadowlands, an easy drive from Temple Town;
  • Temple had exploratory talks with UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel about its head coaching job in 2005. Neuheisel had all kinds of demands Temple was unwilling to meet, so the Owls looked elsewhere and found Al Golden.
  • Two years later, Golden interviewed for the UCLA job that Neuheisel got.

So there are all kinds of interesting subplots here. I will admit, the thought of putting it to the Big East and having that conference fester over a bowl loss to Temple appealed to me but that revenge motive can be taken care of next September when the Owls face UConn.
I think the possibility is there for a 10K to 20K Temple showing but it must be talked up in every workplace where there is a Temple alumnus and every corner of the Temple campus
It's not playing a former Big East foe in Toronto, but that wouldn't have worked for Temple because it would have given a lazy fan base an out for not attending.
Now there is no out.
Temple must get a good portion of its 260,000 alumni and 33,000 full-time students on board for this trip and show the nation the potential of Temple and its fans to respond.
I think the possibility is there for a 10K to 20K Temple showing but it must be talked up in every workplace where there is a Temple alumnus and every corner of the Temple campus.
It must be the main topic of conversation at 15th and Montgomery and at 13th and Norris as well as 11th and Diamond.
Three weeks to do it.
It can be done.
It must be done.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CBS Sports pulls plug on Temple-Notre Dame matchup

Well, it was nice while it lasted _ approximately 12 hours.
Yesterday, CBS Sportsline updated its latest bowl projections to put Temple in Mobile, Ala., playing against Notre Dame in the GMAC Bowl.
Around noon today, the guys there revised their predictions to put Temple in the same bowl we told you they were going last Saturday, the International Bowl in Toronto.

GMAC BOWL: Temple vs. UConn (ESPN2).
Who knows where tomorrow's revision will have the Owls headed, but my money is on Washington, D.C.
Seems to be they made a dartboard, put the bowls on the wall and the teams on darts and threw them and projected wherever the darts stuck.
I guess these guys didn't know two things:
1) The GMAC has told the MAC it wants Central Michigan;
2) Notre Dame's players voted not to play in a bowl.
Nice pick, though, and a way for Owl fans to get excited.
Now don't get too hung up on No. 1 or No. 2.
1) The MAC is flexible.
2) The Notre Dame administration has said it, not the players, will decide who plays where.
All of us should be very excited today and not because we had a chance to go to Mobile to play Notre Dame.

"Expert' Bowl Projections:


International: Temple vs USF

The Rivalry, Esq. :

GMAC: Temple vs UL-Monroe

Saturday Sound-Offs:

International Bowl: Rutgers vs. Temple

ESPN's Graham Watson:

International Bowl: Temple vs. Big East

ESPN's Mark Schlabach:

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Temple vs Louisiana-Monroe

ESPN's Bruce Feldman:

International: West Virginia vs Temple

Sporting News' Dave Curtis:

Eagle Bank Bowl: Temple vs. Marshall

SI's Stewart Mandel:

International: USF vs Temple

Rivals :

International: Rutgers vs Temple

We're looking at two likely bowls, one that would pit Temple against (probably) a hated Big East foe in another country and one that would give 10,000 of the Owls' very fragile fan base a chance to get off their asses and into a car for a two-hour drive down I-95 to see something they haven't seen in their lifetimes.
Or at least in 30 years.
The Owls in a bowl game.
Playing Notre Dame in a warm-weather climate adds another level to that excitement, I admit, even though it's probably not coming to pass.
I want the opponent to be as high a profile one as any.
I also want to beat said opponent.
What you put your money on Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio (and maybe Bernard Pierce) against someone from Charlie Weis' staff?
I would.
Don't put your hopes on that trip.
The Owls are in a bowl and that's reason enough for me to be happy. Whatever the bowl is, I want them to win it and open some national eyes in the process.
No bitching allowed.
At least not this year.

Bowl Selection Party: 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the LC

Word comes today via Al Golden that Temple is holding a bowl selection announcement party at the Liacouras Center on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m.
Hopefully, guys like Bobby Bernardo will be able to make it.
Nov 23, 1990
By Mike Kern, Daily News Sports Writer
No, Temple (6-4) is not going to a bowl
for the first time since 1979, now
that the Independence Bowl has decided to take Louisiana Tech (8-3)and surprise
late entry Maryland (6-5).
And, yes, second-year coach Jerry Berndt is obviously disappointed.
But, no, he is not discouraged.
If the Owls can win at Boston College(4-6) tomorrow afternoon, it would be
the first time in 11 years they won more than six games.
"That's something to be proud of," Berndt said late last night."There's no
question, we felt we had a legitimate shot (at the bowl). And we did. Then, all
of a sudden, Maryland comes out of nowhere. But sometimes, you just don't know
what's going on behind the scenes. "
The Independence Bowl settled on Louisiana Tech and Maryland for the Dec.
15 game in Shreveport, La., after Baylor announced Wednesday night that it
was withdrawing from consideration.
The Bears, who remain in therunning for the Southwest Conference title and
a berth in the CottonBowl, had been under pressure from the Independence to make
a commitment.
"It's unfortunate they (the Independence committee) made the decision
when they did, without giving us a chance to participate Saturday," Berndt said.
But I feel pleased for (Maryland coach) Joe Krivak. And they did upset Virginia.
We've had one of those miracle kind of seasons(after going 1-10 in 1989), and it
would have been a great reward. Butas I told the squad today, it's something we
have no control over. We can't let it affect us.
"They were down. But we had a good practice. I hope we'll use that as
a little more incentive. The fact that we were even considered shows some
respect for what we've done. It's a credit to the players and the staff to
even be considered. It's a real privilege and an honor, particularly coming off
of the season we had last year."

Bernardo was a linebacker on the last Temple team to win 10 games in a row and, in 1973, he was a sophomore starting linebacker when the Owls won eight-straight games.
He took time out to recall those years when a guest on the Bob Rovner radio program on Saturday.
"We were supposed to go to the Tangerine Bowl," Bernardo said, "but that was the year of the gas shortage and they were worried about their being enough gas for the fans on cars and planes and they picked Florida State instead. There were only about eight bowls in those days.
"We were 9-1. Florida State was 5-5, but they were closer so they were picked."
Such is the history of Temple's near-misses in bowl games.
In 1990, the 7-4 Owls were one of six teams wooed by the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl but they picked a 6-5 Maryland team instead.
"They (the Poulan Weed-Eaters) made the mistake, we didn't," quarterback Matty Baker said.
The Owls are looking at two primary options right now.
1) They have a good shot of taking the ACC's unoccupied spot in the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C.
2) They are a lock for the International Bowl in Toronto if they don't.
If I had to handicap it right now, I would say 60 percent chance for Eagle Bank and 40 percent chance for Toronto.
Or maybe 55 percent chance for Eagle Bank and 40 percent chance for International with a five percent chance of shocking the world and ending up in Detroit vs. someone like Middle Tennessee (didn't we already beat them in the Bobby Wallace days?). And maybe a five percent chance of going to a bowl like the Hummanitarian in Boise.
The party will be for this wonderful team that won nine straight, but it will also be for guys like Bobby Bernardo, too.
"Ever since I can remember, my dad (Bill, the former Northeast High coach) was taking me to Temple games," Bobby said. "That since 1957. I've been going all these years and I can't tell you how wonderful it's been to go to the games this season."
Bernardo was on one of about five Wayne Hardin squads which deserved to go to bowl games, but never did.
College football has never been about getting the best teams in bowls, but bringing the teams with the most fans. That's why the cycle of the same teams being good all the time has been perpetuated ad naseum.
Other teams deserve a shot to be good, too, and get rewards like bowl games.
Temple did its part to break that corrupt cycle this year and now awaits its reward.
The Owls won't be screwed out this time and that's one of the advantages of being in a conference.
Party on, Wayne's boys.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Temple could try to get to D.C. the long way

Is Temple headed to the Eagle Bank Bowl through Toronto?
It's not a straight shot down I-95, but the long way could be the only way for Temple to get what to many of its fans is the more preferable bowl venue.
Right now, it looks as if the only way Temple gets a slot in the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C. is if the Owls take Army's slot.
That leaves them holding the bag without a bowl if Army pulls off the improbable upset of Navy on Dec. 12 _ one week after bowl bids are officially extended.
After 30 years of going without a bowl bid, Temple is just not willing to take that chance so that's why many are speculating that the Owls will be going to Canada to take the MAC's spot in the International Bowl.
There is a roundabout way of getting to D.C., though.
Something tells me it makes a whole lot of sense for Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw to be working on a three-way deal with either Northern Illinois or Bowling Green, getting one of those seven-win teams to accept the risk for a nine-win team.
Bradshaw is getting on a conference call with Mid-American honchos today at 3:30 p.m.
The subject on the table is bowl scenarios.
Bradshaw (to either Northern Illinois or Bowling Green): "Work with us, here."
NIU/BG: "How?"
"One of you go to Toronto if Navy wins (lead-pipe cinch) and we go to D.C. However, if Navy loses, one of you is out and we'll go to Toronto. Who wants in on this with us?"
It's a win/win for everbody because Navy isn't losing, folks.
Temple gets an attractive foe, possibly East Carolina in a best-case scenario, and brings a large fan base to D.C.
Northern Illinois or Bowling Green gets the shorter trip to Canada and assumes only a slight risk.
When the bids are announced, they'll be announced on an either/or basis.
If Bradshaw pulls this off, he's a genius.
We'll see.
Let the dialing begin.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Temple football asked to leave the country

By Mike Gibson
It seems there aren't a whole lot of people out there who can deal with any success Temple football has.
A few weeks after Temple beat then fellow Big East conference member Rutgers for the fourth-straight season, the Owls were asked to leave the Big East for being "non-competitive."
Conveniently, Rutgers being non-competitive with the non-competitive team wasn't an issue then.
Now, after the first season in which Temple won nine straight games in its history, the Owls are being asked to leave the country.
Don't worry.
This time, unlike the last, it's a good thing, not a bad one.
Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw appeared late Saturday afternoon on the Bob Rovner radio program on a Philadelphia station for a two-hour guest stint (WWDB-AM) and much of the talk centered on Temple football.
In it, he hinted strongly that Temple will be asked to leave the country only because it will be extended an offer to the International Bowl in Canada shortly.

Bill Cosby talks Temple football with John Kincade on ESPN radio (97.5 in Philly) Sunday morning, Nov. 29th at exactly 9:25.

The delicious irony in this:
One of the three possible opponents Bradshaw mentioned was Rutgers.
(The other two were South Florida and West Virginia.)
"You might think WIP and 950 are the sports radio stations in town, but we talk more Temple sports here on my show than anywhere else," said Rovner, a former state senator and Temple grad.
Although the show is ostensibly a political one, Rovner wasn't kidding. Co-host Frank Rizzo Jr. was away, so Rovner got to play sports talk show host for a day.
The show talked Temple sports, mostly football, for two hours.
Bob Bernardo, a former Owl linebacker who played for the last Temple team to win nine in a row, was a call-in guest.
The meat of the show centered on bowl scenarios.
Bradshaw also hinted (strongly) that the university might be forced to turn down an Eagle Bank Bowl Invitation for that International Bowl berth.
He speculated that Central Michigan would go to the GMAC in Mobile and Ohio to the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit, leaving Toronto and a Big East foe on the table for the Owls.
There was another option, he said.
He noted the Eagle Bank Bowl was tricky because it would be the last invitation extended and it would be contingent upon Navy beating Army.
But that Army-Navy game is set for Dec. 12, a week after all the bowls are offered.
Should Army pull off the unlikely upset, the team accepting that contingency bid would be left outside of the bowl picture.
That's why Temple is likely to accept a bowl invitation, probably Toronto, when the initial offers are extended on Dec. 6.
"We might have that kind of choice," he said. "I should know more around 3:30 on Monday afternoon after we have a conference call with the MAC."
The Eagle Bank Bowl would be tempting in that considerably more Owl fans would be able to make the trip.
Despite forecasts to the contrary in 1979, Temple traveled very well to its last bowl game, drawing over 55,000 its 28-17 win over California in the second Garden State Bowl.
Temple could travel very well to D.C., not nearly as well to Toronto.
The allure of Toronto, though, could be playing a team from a conference that kicked the Owls out.
The interview between Rovner and Bradshaw will be rebroadcast on WWDB in one week.
By then, though, the Owls and their fans will probably be applying for passports.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Owl Golden is going nowhere and here's why ...

By Mike Gibson
After Temple's 35-17 loss to Ohio in what was the MAC East Championship game, I've reached one inescapable conclusion:
Al Golden is going nowhere.
Or make that Owl Golden.
Let's get this out of the way first: Owl Golden did a fantastic job as head coach at Temple in 2009, the best job since Bruce Arians went 6-5 against the No. 10-ranked schedule in the country back in 1986.
Let's have a little perspective, though. Arians did it against the 10th-best schedule. Golden did it against the 112th best schedule (out of 119).
Golden's work was much more impressive than Jerry Berndt's seven-win season in 1990, but slightly short of Arians' two six-win seasons against a couple of suicide schedules.
From a pure football coaching standpoint, to me, six wins against the 10th-best schedule in the country is a little more impressive than nine wins against a No. 112 schedule.
No doubt, though, Golden has proven he is the best man for the job.
He's had a lot more to do than being a full-time football coach. He's had to be a full-time babysitter, a full-time disciplinarian and a full-time public relations' man. That's just for starters. He's done much more than his job description for the university and the institution can't thank him or compensate him enough.
From academics to community involvement to character issues, he righted a ship that was listing badly and about to go down.
It's a Herculean effort even Arians could not have mustered.
But there is much more to be done and my hunch is that Golden will stay to do it.
He sweat a lot of blood and tears building this program and now that it's built and all he has to do is coach, does he want to wear all those hats and sweat all that blood again for four more years?
I think not.
Golden won't leave for another reclamation project and, other than Cincinnati or Notre Dame, every single offer he gets will involve years of building again.
Nothing Owl Golden has said has convinced me he'll be around for the 2010 season.
It's what he's done.
Or not done in this case.
All season long, I've gotten multiple reports from reliable sources both inside and outside the program that Chris Coyer was ... by far ... the best quarterback on team.
He was making the most plays in practice every day.
He was turning the most heads.
Yet he wasn't on the field.
Think about it.
I've said for 12 months between the end of last season and now, the only thing that separated Temple from a contender and a champion was the lack of a playmaking quarterback.
I urged the Owls to go get one, even going as far as pleading for Al to sign a big-time JUCO quarterback in the mold of Adam DiMichele.
That the Owls have won nine games without a playmaking quarterback is a tribute to Owl Golden and Matt Rhule.
They got this far on two "game managers" in Vaughn Charlton and Chester Stewart.
Neither one of them can be describe as a playmaker, someone who can win the game on his own, ala Adam DiMichele vs. Eastern Michigan last season.
If Owl Golden cared about himself more than he cared about the program, he would have burned the Chris Coyer redshirt at about the time Chester Stewart succeeded Vaughn Charlton as the Owls' starting quarterback.
What would he have cared if Temple only had three Coyer years left?
He sent a very loud message that he cared very much by protecting the redshirt.
We've all seen the chasm between Stewart and Charlton since.
It is large and it is stark.
That's about the difference between Coyer and Stewart.
You don't need me to tell you about it.
Coyer will win the starting quarterback's job in a three-way battle in spring ball.
Remember, if it happens, you read it here first.
In between now and then, Temple will make it to a bowl game.
It's a lock not because of what I write here but because of the NCAA rule that states you cannot take an eight-win team ahead of a nine-win team for an at-large bowl berth.
That's why the Owls will report to practice on Monday knowing they have another game left to play. They will complement perhaps the best running back in the nation next year, Bernard Pierce, with a playmaking quarterback in Chris Coyer.
With a solid defense in place back, that's an impossible formula to beat.
That's why Owl Golden will report to work the offseason on North Broad Street, knowing that the Owls will be better equipped to shock the world next year, not this one.
Then he can have his choice of moves, should he chose to go anywhere.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Black Friday Game Plan

Owl Golden explains why he sang Zombie Nation in video above.

John Haley

For the MAC East
Day: Friday
Time: 11 a.m.
Place: Athens, Ohio
Radio: WHAT 1340
By Mike Gibson
There are three ways to watch the Temple at Ohio game for the MAC East title.
One, the most preferable from my point of view, is to be there in Athens, Ohio, giving support the Temple team playing perhaps the most important game in school history.
That might prove problematic for a great majority of Owl fans who have neither the cash nor the time to get there and back. For example, the cheapest fare we could find was $577 roundtrip. You have to have some pretty steep pockets for that kind of coin.
I don't count myself among that group, unfortunately, and that leaves options Nos. 2 and 3.
So I have to settle for a different Black Friday Game Plan.
(All I'll say about the real game plan is this: Rush the quarterback relentlessly (blitz, you can count on John Haley in a big spot) on defense to force turnovers and use the run to set up the play-action pass on offense, spreading the big plays around evenly to Delano Green, Evan Rodriguez, Joey Jones, Matt Brown, Michael Campbell, James Nixon and Jason Harper. Do that and Frank Solich's head will be spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. It's that simple, but I trust Al Golden, Matt Rhule and Mark D'Onofrio have already figured that out.)

Chester Stewart has more weapons than the NYPD's swat team.
Photo by Ryan Porter

The "real" game plan:
All I'll say about the real game plan is this: Rush the quarterback relentlessly (blitz, if necessary) on defense to force turnovers and use the run to set up the play-action pass on offense, spreading the big plays around evenly to Delano Green, Evan Rodriguez, Joey Jones, Matt Brown, Michael Campbell, James Nixon and Jason Harper. Do that and Frank Solich's head will be spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. It's that simple, but I trust Al Golden, Matt Rhule and Mark D'Onofrio have already figured that out
So that's the game plan for the team in a TFF nutshell. I'll expand on the game plan for us fans below.
I thought about watching from home, but pacing the floor and screaming at the television alone is not my idea of having fun.
So I'm leaning toward the third and final option:
Finding a place to hopefully celebrate the Owls' first football championship of any kind in my lifetime with my fellow Owl fans.
Ideally, the best place would be on campus but that's shut down tighter than a drum when the kids are on break.
Fortunately, there are plenty of Temple-friendly establishments around where you can find Temple people at 11 a.m. on a Friday morning.
Forget shopping on Black Friday.
I'm spending a large chunk of it Owl-watching.
I'm leaning toward one these establishments:
FOX AND HOUND, Center City _ Plenty of TVs, cheap beer, good food and a real good shot at getting the professionals who work around that intersection to leave work early and catch a long lunch hour. A large room for plenty of fans.
KELLIANN'S, 16th and Spring Garden _ Without question, the best quality 56-inch HDTV I've ever seen and the bartender, Scott, is a good guy who will put the sound up for you if you ask nicely. There's a Temple helmet in the corner of the room. Only drawback is that it's the world's smallest men's room. (I haven't been in the women's room, but I don't think that's much larger.)
APPLEBEE'S (Roxborough) _ It opens at 11 a.m., so it opens just in time for kickoff. The bartender, Maureen (Mo), has a son who goes to Temple, so she's very Temple-friendly and good at her job as well. Get the Oriental Chicken Salad. I highly recommend it.
WINNER'S CIRCLE (Exton) _ A hangout for Temple fans in that area of Southeastern Pennsylvania, it comes highly recommended. I haven't been in there, but I've heard lots of Temple fans go there.
CALLOWAY's (Huntingdon Valley) _ Also superb TVs, good bargain on the beer and the best Caesar Chicken Salad you'll ever have. A lot of good sports fans who know their stuff in that bar.
Those are my picks.
I'd like to hear some of yours in the comment section below.
I'll follow the biggest Owl crowd.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Can we finally put this attendance thing to rest?

A crowd of 21,046 watches Kee-Ayre Griffin (above) and James Nixon (below).
Photos by Ryan Porter

If you haven't seen it, I direct your attention to Mike Jensen's fabulous piece in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer on Temple's wonderful long-time football fans.
I've said this for years and not just because he's a colleague of mine and a good guy, Mike Jensen is the best college writer in this town and he has been for years.
He's really really a terrific wordsmith, a craftsman whose effort is to be admired the way you'd look at a beautiful painting.
Bill Bradshaw's answer to my question
Mike.....although in the Franklin field and Vet days, Temple(I'm told)
use to eyeball the crowd and throw out a number, we've come a long way
in announcing accurate #'s for attendance.
As you know, there is the
actual # at the game, sold tickets, people in suites that
sportswriters don't see, people who stay at a tailgate(with a paid
ticket), comp tickets, and hundreds of fans, at any one time in the
hallways,concession stands and lavatories.
For a sportswriter who
comes to one game, and says the crowd is slightly less than what was
announced, I would question his "eyeball count", since we have the
real data that supports our #, and he does not, nor did he ask us for
And for him to suggest that, because Temple always embellished
attendance, as a rationale for his conclusion, is quite frustrating to
all of us. Its when you always announce the same crowd, with eyeball
evidence to the contrary, that someone should be suspicious of your #.
As you know, we've announced much less in attendance for other games
this year, but we did not think anyone would question yesterday's #,
at least those who had attended other games
......hope this
After reading "Temple of Boom" _ a terrific headline, by the way, played off a quote in the story about the bemoaning of 'Temple of Doom' headlines _ I looked at Jensen's Mona Lisa and saw a scratch mark.
I felt as though I had eaten a terrific Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad and gotten indigestion afterward after staring at the scratch mark in the Mona Lisa.
This line bothered me:
The announced attendance of 21,046 seemed slightly high - maybe old habits die hard.
Geez, I thought, when will this shit ever stop?
First of all, Temple hasn't "made up" attendance figures since the old Al Shrier days at Temple Stadium.
A writer would eyeball the crowd, and turn to look at Shrier, who was always standing with his briefcase in hand, behind the back of the press box.
"How many would you say are here, Al?" the guy would ask.
"Ten thousand," Shrier would say.
Then that figure would appear next at the bottom of the box score.

The MAC: Week 12

Central Michigan 35 @ Ball State 3 -- Att: 5,736

Buffalo 42 @ Miami 17 -- Att: 7,983

Bowling Green 36 @ Akron 20 -- Att: 9,163

Toledo 47 @ Eastern Michigan 21 -- Att: 9,967

NIU 31 @ Ohio 38 -- Att: 14,756

Kent State 13 @ Temple 47 -- Att: 21,046
Source: Supertaco, (thanks, ST)
The next week the same routine would happen and the same figure would appear under the boxscore.
It hasn't been that way since the day of the scanner and they've had them since the stadium was opened in 2003.
My ticket is scanned, your ticket is scanned and that goes into a computer.
The figure generated by the computer, not the Temple AD or SID, is used at the bottom of the boxscore.
Nobody's hacking into the computer.
There's no conspiracy theory.
Bill Bradshaw isn't running up to the press box and making his guy change the numbers.
It's just not happening.
I asked Bradshaw how this figure was generated yesterday and his response is posted here.
I ran into a few folks in the parking lot postgame and I mentioned I thought the crowd was "about 25,000." One guy said 27,000. Another guy said 26,000. Another guy said 23,000. My friend, Mark, said he didn't know what the crowd was but it "wasn't (as high as) 25,000."
Nobody said as low as 21,046 and none of them were named Al Shrier.
To me, after 30 years of losing, eight straight games isn't going to full the house.
That's just not realistic to expect.
But Saturday was a HUGE step in the right direction and I was very impressed with our fans and it only bodes well for future attendance.
It takes time to lose a fan base and it will take time to rebuild one.