Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beating Penn State would mean the world to TU

Beating Villanova is one million times more important than beating Penn State. It's imperative. It's a demand, not a request. You cannot lose to Villanova again and retain any hometown credibility for the program.
At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, I will take a moment to do just that.
Let's talk about, say, the Penn State game three months from today.
(Let me just say before going any further, beating Villanova is one million times more important than beating Penn State. It's imperative. It's a demand, not a request. You cannot lose to Villanova again and retain any hometown credibility for the program.)
Still, I've fast-forwarded myself to Beaver Stadium (great name, by the way, just sayin'), sitting with 110,000 of my fellow college football fans, 5,000 of whom may be rooting for the Owls against Penn State on Sept. 25.
Making that 250-mile trip has been usually as futile a project for Owl fans as trying to end World Hunger or getting the Republicans to pass a Health Care bill with a public option.
It's been that way since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
That's the last year Temple won.
Maybe not so much this year.
Temple's got a little more than a puncher's chance this year.
You know it.
I know it.
The rest of those 105,000-plus fans don't know it, though.
Most of the Penn State fans in the Philadelphia area give lip service to the Temple program.
"Geez, Al Golden is doing a great job there."
"Being in the MAC has done wonders for Temple."
"Al's building a nice resume there."
When I mention that it's only a matter of time before Temple pulls a Central Michigan and beats the highest-profile college football program in its state, I get a whole different reaction.
"Whoa. Let's not get crazy."
"It's never going to happen."
"Temple is never going to beat Penn State."
Never say never.
It may not be this year.
It may not be next year, but it's not impossible.
This isn't your father's Temple team, unless your father played for Wayne Hardin. This is a real good team.
Real good might be one way to put it.
Loaded might be another.
Beating Penn State, especially if the Nittany Lions went on to win the Big 10, would rocket the Owls toward greatness.
Beating Penn State would immediately legitimize Temple football not only in its own town but in the state and the nation and would be a boost of immeasurable proportions in terms of prestige and gate receipts. Temple students, faculty and alumni would be puffing up their chests so much for the next 12 months, you'd think all of them looked like The Incredible Hulk. By my calculations, that's 250,000 living alumni, 33,000 full-time students and 12,300 full-time employees. Those are a lot of chests. And 90 percent of them live here or damn close to here.
They might have to shut down North Broad Street, like they did when the basketball team won at North Carolina, 82-66, in 1988.
With all due respect to Villanova, none of the above happens with a win over the Wildcats.
I know a lot of Temple fans think it's possible. In fact, I don't know of a single Temple football player who doesn't believe in the delicious thought.
I think it's a good thing that I can't find a single Penn State fan who thinks it's possible.
I hope their football team approaches Sept. 25th the same way.
Click on logo below to read my interview with Linebacker U.:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Temple and Rutgers close to a 2-for-2 deal

Rivalries are a beautiful thing.
I'm old enough to know when Temple and Delaware were rivals.
One of my fondest days was spent in Newark, Del., when Temple beat Delaware, 31-8, in front of a still-record and still-stunned crowd of 23,619.
An even fonder day was Temple's 45-0 win in Newark on another beautiful Saturday. The hot dogs in that post-game tailgate tasted like Filet Mignon.
Temple even got grief from the local media by scheduling Delaware.
"I believe in scheduling Delaware ... and then beating the crap out of them," was the way Wayne Hardin was quoted in response.
I loved it.
Could you imagine Al Golden saying that about any opponent?
"Temple's program is a big-time song and dance," Delaware coach Tubby Raymond said.
Now that's a rivalry.
That's what I'm talkin' about.
Hardin must've really enjoyed it because he beat Raymond seven of the last nine times he faced him on the football field. Hardin could talk the talk, but one of the most admirable things about him (of many) is that he backed that up by walking the walk.
Penn State is a rival but, to be one, you've got to prove that you can beat one.
Temple's proven that against Rutgers numerous times and the proximity of the schools combined with an animosity factor qualifies this as a real rivalry.
You've got to have a little animosity to stir the rivalry pot and, in Rutgers, there's some of that.

That's why the news today of a 2-for-2 deal (twice in Philadelphia, twice in Piscataway) is terrific for me.
Since Delaware, Rutgers has always been Temple's biggest rival.
With the Big East expulsion backdrop, there's plenty of animosity.
This is something Rutgers wanted five years ago, but approached Temple with a 3-for-2 deal.
Temple, I'm told, said no dice.
"We want to play you, but it's 2-for-2 or nothing," was Temple's response.
So, for five years, it's been nothing.
Temple would have been very happy waiting until Kingdom Come with the nothing and Rutgers' brass finally realized that the extra game demand did not make sense if it meant the schools would never play again.
Rutgers finally gave in last week.
I'm amused when I hear from my Rutgers friends (and I have a few) demanding that Temple give Rutgers an extra home game "because Temple is a MAC school."
Dude, you are the reason we're a MAC school.
If you supported us, Virginia Tech and Pitt would have joined in and blocked the Big East expulsion.
So there's some animosity there.
There's no animosity, for me at least, against Buffalo, Kent State and the fake Miami.
The only discordant note is that this series won't start until 2015. Al Golden will be 45 years old and working on a Wayne Hardin-like legacy in Philadelphia (I hope).
By then, I hope he talks the Hardin talk and walks the Hardin walk.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where is my Bernard Pierce comic book?

Page 2 of the 1986 Temple football media guide.

More than anything else, the Heisman Trophy is the byproduct of an excellent and deserving candidate playing under the right circumstances with just the right level of promotion.
Temple's Paul Palmer certainly was that back in 1986.

The Owls' Bernard Pierce, who broke all of Palmer's freshman rushing records last year, certainly is that now.
People told Palmer he could not make a serious run for the trophy because he played at Temple.
Because he didn't listen and the people closest to him didn't listen, he was at the New York Athletic Club on the day Vinny Testaverde got the trophy finishing as the deserving runner up. Palmer wore a neat brown suit with an Owl lapel pin and he was as deserving of the recognition as was Testaverde.
Not bad at all.
It was a great day for Palmer and for Temple University.
The only advantage the Palmer of 1986 had over the Pierce of 2010 is that Palmer played against what was then the No. 10 toughest schedule in the country and helped the Owls of Bruce Arians finish 6-5 against that schedule, beating the likes of Virginia Tech and East Carolina.
Yet Pierce will be on the field against Big East contender Connecticut and Big 10 contender Penn State, so he will have those kinds of chances, too.

What I'd like to see the university do for Pierce right now is nudge him toward the Heisman the way the SID office nudged Palmer. Get him into the conversation now, not after he rolls up, say, 514 yards and seven touchdowns against Villanova.
Back in 1986, the SID office put out a 16-page comic book with Palmer depicted as Superman and mailed the book to all 1,016 Heisman voters. The comic depicted Palmer's meteoric rise from a small under-recruited tailback from Maryland to the big man on campus in a major metropolis, complete with stats and supporing facts. Back then, the SID office put Palmer on the cover of the 1986 Media Guide with the caption "Heisman Trophy candidate Paul Palmer" and the headline: Temple: the Philadelphia Team America's Watching.
Page Two included quotes from Don Nehlen, Joe Paterno, Dick MacPherson and others touting Palmer's ball-toting ability.
Clever stuff.
The only promotion I've heard for Pierce is a free schedule magnet.
As Derrick Coleman once said, "Whoopty-damn-do."
I don't see the same level of promotion right now for Pierce a couple of months before the season, but maybe the school is working with a couple of illustrators in New York City.
Then again, maybe not.
Don't give me any grief about this not being in the budget. Budget smudget. Do you know how much having a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy does for the university's coffers in terms of attendance, TV revenue, etc.? This is a gold mine. Gold. The 49ers (the gold-miners, not the football team) didn't walk away from Sutter's Mill because they didn't have the money for a pan.
That's why I'd like to see the university set the table for what I expect to be a terrific year for Pierce and the Owls by mounting a serious campaign now. Bang the drums hard. Set off smoke signals.
Do something.
If Pierce leads to the Owls to an upset win or two and helps them dominate the MAC, he will be right there in the conversation  up until December.
If he does it after the kind of campaign Al Shrier's excellent SID office ran leading up to Palmer's senior season, he might have to start shopping for brown suits.

Temple isn't ignoring Bernard, as proven by these billboards about to go up at Interstate locations exactly one mile from the stadium. I would just like to see them just as go hard after the Heisman voters right now, too, but that's more the job of the SID office than the promotions department.
You can be part of history, too. It's the price of a Temple football season ticket. Buy one now by clicking below:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Now's the time to gush over BP (Bernard Pierce)

Temple football Fan Fest coming to Ocean City (N.J.) main pier between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on July 10.
I've never met David Sourber but, from what I gather, he beat me to the punch with what I thought was an innovative ideal _ create a "Bernard Pierce for Heisman" Facebook page.
Type in "Bernard Pierce for Heisman Facebook" on google and you are likely to find it.
Sourber is from Manheim, Pa., and is on target to graduate from Temple University in 2012.
He represents the current students who bring a passion to and support for the school too many of the older grads can't begin match.
All you have to do is go to the games, especially last year's Villanova game, where about 15-16,000 of the fans were students dressed in Cherry and pouring their hearts and lungs out for the Owls in the stands. Walking out of the stadium that night, I was more heartbroken for those kids in the stands than I was for myself (and nobody takes a Temple football loss harder than I do).
Six Owl numbers that will (maybe) get you some lotto money:
White Balls:
Six _ The number of 1986 Heisman Trophy runnerup Paul Palmer.
Fourty-four _ The number of Palmer's blocking back, fullback Shelley Poole, who went through the hole preceeding Palmer like a bowling ball knocking down pins. An unsung hero if there ever was one.
Thirty _ the number of the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner (hopefully) Bernard Pierce. Also the number of 1979 Garden State Bowl MVP Mark Bright.
Eleven _ The number of Big East offensive MVP Walter Washington (2004), the most dominating year by a player on a losing team maybe ever.
Twelve _ The old number of Vaughn Charlton, this year's Owl who made the greatest sacrifice for the team in switching to tight end (and becoming No. 3). Another unsung hero.
Powerball (red ball):
Nine _ The number of quarterback Steve Joachim, who holds the highest honor (Maxwell Trophy) heretofore ever bestowed upon a Temple football player (1974)
This Bernard Pierce for Heisman thing is getting some legs mostly because of the legs Pierce showed last year.
Bernard Pierce is, in my mind, the complete package.
If puts up a similar year to last and stays healthy, he should be in the conversation right up until the night the five finalists get together.
Unlike David Sourber who wasn't born then, I got to know Paul Palmer up close and personal like during his Heisman Trophy run in 1986.
Paul Palmer was a great, great back. Fast. Shifty. Could break tackles. Great vision.
While playing for Temple, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year only to Vinny Testaverde of Miami.
Yet having watched both Paul Palmer for four years and Bernard Pierce last year, I'm convinced there is nothing ... NOTHING ... Bernard Pierce can't do that Paul Palmer did.
In fact, there was little Paul Palmer could do his first year that Bernard Pierce didn't do.
After one game in which Palmer carried the ball 43 times, a reporter asked then Temple coach Bruce Arians why he gave him the ball that much.
"We gave him the ball because he could handle it," Arians said. "You know, it ain't that heavy."
Good line, Bruce.
If I had to give Palmer the edge over Pierce in any category, it would be his durability.
Pierce carried the ball a lot last year, but so did Palmer. On the other hand, Boo-Boo was fast, but not as fast as Pierce. I think Palmer avoided the big hit more than Pierce and that might have something to do with the injuries.
Pierce, though, combines world-class speed with great moves in the open field and an ability to break tackles and punish defenders.
I watched a lot of college football on network TV and did not see anyone as good. Unlike most non-BCS backs, Pierce has Penn State and UConn on the schedule, as well as the MAC, so he's got opportunities to lead his team to eye-popping wins that will get him into the conversation as early as September.
So the Heisman is right there for the taking.
If David Sourber helps him get one step closer to the New York Athletic Club, his Bernard Pierce for Heisman page is a worthwhile endeavor.
When Temple goes 13-0 and wins the national championship in Jan. 2011 and Bernard Pierce takes home the Heisman, 100,000 people will claim to be Owl season ticketholders. You can show them your season-ticket stubs by clicking below: