Monday, November 29, 2010

Orlando Sentinel: Sun Bowl vs. Miami

It's not going to be this dark in El Paso on Dec. 31 at 2 p.m.
 Gotta love the MAC.
It's the only conference where you can look reasonably horrible before a small crowd in Ohio in the last regular-season game and get what amounts to a reward.
Win the conference or division and go to Detroit,  Boise or Mobile.
Finish somewhat farther back in the conference and go to El Paso or Las Vegas.
Or D.C.
It was that way last year for the Temple Owls, when they spit the bit at Ohio and lost, 35-17, in the defacto MAC East championship game and got the marquee opponent of the MAC postseason in UCLA before 20,000 Temple fans in D.C.
It appears to be that way again this season, the marquee opponent part, not the D.C. part.
I must admit that I thought the season was, for all intents and purposes, over with a 23-3 loss at Miami.
The Owls would not have been a hot team coming into the postseason.
Their one marquee player has been an injury question mark and they would not bring 20,000 fans on the road with them like they did last year.
Reading the reports, though, I'm thinking that the Owls will find their way to a bowl game, more likely than not in a sunny and warm (err, warmer) climate.
If I had to handicap it today, I would go with these numbers:
  • 30 percent chance of Sun Bowl vs. Miami of Florida;
  • 20 percent chance of Vegas Bowl vs. Utah;
  • 15 percent chance of Humanitarian Bowl vs. Nevada or Fresno State;
  • 5 percent chance of "some other bowl";
  • 30 percent chance of no bowl;
That's from a selective reading of the situation. So it looks more like bowl than no bowl for Temple.
Orlando Sentinel says the Owls will go to the Sun Bowl to face Miami (Fla.) and I will take that.
The first thing you have to do when you read a bowl projection is skip over the ones that have "bleacher report" written next to the writer's byline.
It's a bunch of Joe Schmoes, like you and me, reports worth money Bleacher Report paid for them _ which is nothing.

The MAAC Vegas Bowl in, well, you know.
 The people you have to pay attention to are the ones who are paid and answer to the person paying them.
That's why I'm giving credence to sites like and people like Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated.
Those sites have the Owls going to either the Sun Bowl to play the U (the real Miami) or the Vegas Bowl to play Utah.
I'll take either one.
I will pass on playing Boise or Nevada in Idaho, which is where many of the Joe Schmoes on Bleacher Report have us going. Pass, because it's too much of a hardship for our fans.
The only reason I want to play a bowl is to get this bad taste out of my mouth that I've had the last couple of weeks and I want to be there when it happens. Since I haven't been eating garlic, it must be the losing that's eating at me.
I like what Michael Vick said after the game last night.
"I hate losing. It makes me sick. It makes me ill."
I hear ya, Michael. Losing makes me sick, too, and the only remedy is to win again.
I don't want to wait until next year for the cure.
It's only a reward, though, if you go there (wherever) and win.  I want to see these Owls and especially the seniors go out with a swagger. I want to avenge the loss to UCLA and close the season the way it started _ bringing home a trophy. The season started with a Mayor's Cup Trophy.
I want it to end with a Sun Bowl or a Vegas Bowl Trophy.
You can only get that by playing the game.
Beating Utah or the real Miami is the best mouthwash I can think of right now.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Al Golden can fix his team with one phone call

The Brumfield File:
  • No. 2 all-time rusher in Pennsylvania history with 8,595 yards;
  • Averaged 9.79 yards per carry against defenses designed to stop him;
  • Over 100 TDs for his career;
  • A 3.0 GPA;
"You hate to say the word 'unstoppable,' but that's what Ryan is. He likes the challenges. The more he gets challenged, the better he plays. But what you like most about Ryan is that he's a great kid. Here's a kid that has every right to have an ego, and he doesn't. He gets along with everyone. It's why his teammates don't only want to play with him — they want to play for him."

_Tom Barr, head coach, Owen J. Roberts
Sometimes numbers mean nothing.
Sometimes the numbers all add up and the mathematical formula is pretty clear.
I found some numbers that were pretty fascinating over the last few days and I just want to share some here.
They tell the story of why this Temple season has a different, more hollow, feel for me than last year did.
They also show me the equation for getting the Owls out of this morass.
Temple football by the numbers:
  • Al Golden is 0-14 against MAC teams with a winning record;
  • Al Golden's two most impressive non-MAC wins were against Navy last year and against UConn this season;
  • Against Navy last year, Bernard Pierce went for 268 yards and two touchdowns with a pretty anemic passing attack on his side;
  • Against UConn this year, Bernard Pierce went for 179 yards with three touchdowns (again, with an anemic passer).
So who is most responsible for Temple's success?
Al Golden or Bernard Pierce?
Certainly, you can make a case for Bernard Pierce to date.
Going forward, to use a term Al Golden fancies, going forward, Al Golden is most responsible for Temple's success.
That's because the one thing he can supply is out there for the taking.
Bernard Pierce. Or at least a Bernard Pierce clone.
Certainly, we'd all like to see the Bernard Pierce of last year show up for his junior season (and the bowl game if the Owls are lucky enough to secure one).
What Al Golden failed to do "going backward" was make sure the Owls had a running back with Pierce's ability or close to it backing up Bernard should Bernard have gone down.
Let's face it.
Bernard had some injury issues after last year ended. Temple should have been better prepared than to replace him with a 5-5, 150-pound guy, no matter how good that 5-5, 150-pounder was.
The No. 1 running back recruit was a guy named Myron Ross (now Myron Myles) out of Wissahickon. Myron's a nice back, like Matty Brown, a nice back, not a Gosh-darn superstar.
I don't think Myron Myles on his best day can give Temple going forward what Matty Brown did.
And that, quite frankly, wasn't enough against Ohio and Miami.
And it won't be enough going forward.
He struggled to go over 1,000 yards in his senior year at Wissahickon.
Bernard Pierce was a Gosh-darn superstar, a 2,000-yard back, at Glen Mills.
We all kind of knew he would be something special in college.
So what Al Golden can do going forward is get me another Bernard Pierce as an insurance policy should the real one go down.
Short of cloning Bernard and waiting 18 years for the gestation period, I have a sure-fire answer:
Ryan Brumfield of Owen J. Roberts.
Brumfield, like Pierce, is a gosh-darn superstar.
I wrote about this kid in Friday's Inquirer.
He's five inches taller than Matty Brown (5-10) and 30 pounds heavier (180). He's a tenth of a second faster (4.4 compared to 4.5) and he's a lot shiftier and stronger. He's not quite Bernard (6-0, 218) but he's proven to be more durable.
Think a bigger version of Paul Palmer and that's what I'm talking about.
Brumfield has an offer on the table from Buffalo (Al Golden, I beg you, please don't let this kid go to Buffalo) and "interest" from Pitt, Penn State and Rutgers.
If Temple gets involved now, the Owls can have him.
The Owls should get him.
Temple needs Brumfield and Brumfield needs Temple.
That's a one plus one that adds up to two superstar runners for the Owls.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanks for a nice season, everybody

"And that's the way I used to play linebacker."
"But, coach, I'm a QB."
"Oh yeah, I forgot."

Goodnight and good luck.
I think that was Edward R. Murrow's line, but I was too young to remember him.
Let's face it.
The season is over, thanks to the BCS schools who derailed the teams-with-worse-records-can't-be-chosen-over-better-records rule at the end of last season. That means eight-win teams with small fan bases are in jeopardy of getting shut out this year.
Last year, no eight-win team could have been taken over nine-win Temple (excluding bowl tie-ins). This year, any six-win team can be taken over eight-win Temple.
The BCS schools pushing that rule change through is another example that big-time college football is corrupt to the core. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer.
If you think anybody is going to bend over backwards to invite an eight-win Temple team to a bowl, your thinking process is all wrong.
The only bowl that would want us, The Military Bowl, is spoken for with two tie-in participants eligible.

Geez, I hope Al Golden decides to stay at Temple but my gut tells me he's gone
Why would the Military Bowl want us?
That was the former Eagle Bank Bowl and we helped them out big-time by putting 20K fannies in the seats last year vs. UCLA.
Can we even put 1K fannies at any other bowl?
It's all about the Benjamins in college football, in case you forgot.
It was a nice season, not a great season, not even a good season.
Because you can't return 21 starters at 16 positions and not improve from 9-3 to 10-2 or better.
And you certainly can't go from 9-3 to 8-4.

Bruce Arians, the only logical choice as next Temple coach.
 It's a nice season, not a good one, and it represents a regression from a year ago.
So there is blame to be assessed (in this order):
1) Matt Rhule. Sorry, Matt, you do not deserve to be back as offensive coordinator. You are a defensive guy, a career linebacker and a career linebacker coach. There are way too many weapons (Rod Streater, a 318-pound average offensive line, Michael Campbell, Bernard Pierce, Matt Brown, Delano Green, Erod, AJax, etc.) for this team to struggle putting points on the board. There already is an accomplished offensive coordinator on the staff. His name is Rob Spence and he turned scoreboards into  adding machines at places like Clemson and Syracuse. He deserves at least a chance to move up and show what a lifelong offensive mind can do.
Why do we consistently make slow, white quarterbacks look like Fran Tarkenton? Because we don't blitz anywhere near enough to sack these guys 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, like we should

2) Mark D'Onofrio. Why do we consistently make slow, white quarterbacks look like Fran Tarkenton? Because we don't blitz anywhere near enough to sack these guys 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, like we should. We should punch these guys in the mouth (figuratively, of course) early and often and make them uncomfortable back there.
I've been a big Mark D'Onofrio supporter to take over Al Golden's job once Al Golden leaves.
No more.
I'll take a 57-year-old Bruce Arians, a guy who is not afraid to blitz, over Mark D'Onofrio any day of the week. I've never seen a more passive defensive coordinator when it comes to attacking the other guy's quarterback.
Fifty-seven is not old anymore.
I never thought it was.
When I was 21 and working at the Doylestown Intelligencer, I wrote a column that Temple should hire John Chaney as its new basketball coach.
I got called into the office of the Managing Editor, Jim McFadden.
"Mike, don't you think 50 is a little old for a new basketball coach?" he said.
"Fifty's not old," I said.
My boss smiled.
"You get a raise," McFadden said.
He was 50, too.
The point is if you can do the job, it doesn't matter how old you are.
Bruce can do the job.
Bruce can recruit. He knows Temple. He loves Temple.  He will put other quarterbacks on their asses and make them give the ball to us early and often.
He's a Super Bowl winner.
An NFL pension is no longer an issue with him, like it was last time. He's making $600,000 and his boss is Mike Tomlin. At Temple, he would be making $1.2 million with no boss.
This move makes sense for both Bruce and Temple,
If there ever was a time for Bruce Arians at Temple, it is now.
Do I think Al Golden is leaving?
Geez, my heart says he stays but my head says he's gone.
If my heart was right tonight, we would have won, 23-3, instead of lost, 23-3.
So I think my head is right this time, too.
The tug might be too strong this year.
Yes, he's as good as gone. Benjamins also figure into the Al Golden saga. We don't have them. Other schools do.
I salute him.
What a terrific job he's done here and I can't thank him enough.
If he failed this year at all, it was sticking with his Penn State boy, Rhule, for way too long.
Golden proved that you can win at Temple, just like Arians did some 20 years ago.
When Al leaves, let's keep this momentum and move forward with the only other guy who's proven he can win here. I don't want to go back to the days that existed between those two regimes. Hiring Jerry Berndt, Ron Dickerson and Bobby Wallace was a crap shoot. I don't want any more crappy crap shoot hirings.
I want a sure thing next time and Bruce Arians is the only sure thing out there right now. He's the round peg that fits nicely into Temple's round hole.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Miami: The most important game so far (seriously)

Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi discusses the Miami game.

You hear it all the time.
"This is the most important game of the year."
Usually, it's hyperbole.
Not this year. Not with Temple.
The next game is always the most important because it's the next game but Temple has had more games that were "most important" for other reasons, too, than any season I can remember in my 30 years of following the team.
Against Villanova it was the most important game because you could not retain any credibility in your hometown by losing to that school again.
Against CMU it was most important because it took down the reigning MAC power.
Temple at Miami (O)

Records: Temple, 8-3 overall,
5-2 Mid-American Conference;
Miami, 7-4, 6-1.
Series: Temple leads, 3-1.
Against UConn it was most important because it send a message to the Big East flirting with Villanova that, hey, there was a better-looking girl on the same block.
Against Penn State, it would have been a statement game nationally for the program.
And so on and so forth ....
It was true last week against Ohio and it is true Tuesday night at Miami.
Each game was and is more important than the prior game.
Here's the reason why Tuesday night's game with Miami is the MOST important:
Last week, Temple AD Bill Bradshaw sent out a questionaire to Owl fans about which bowl they consider most appealing to travel to, listing Boise, Mobile and Detroit as possible destinations.
My strong educated guess is that Boise was a runaway winner _ for last place. There will be no fans (other than athletic support personnel and parents) going to that game. Maybe the Boise alumni club (one person) will arrange a trip on a motorscooter.
Go to Mobile or St. Petersburg or Dallas and there are likely to be thousands of Owl fans, who will be watching tonight from home or area P.J. Whelihan locations where there will be organized Temple viewing parties. All locations will be having viewing parties with the biggest one at Blue Bell in Montgomery County.
Those fans know if the Owls don't win in Miami (Ohio) tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2), they are likely ticketed for Boise.
Or worse.
That's where it stands right now.
Even though head coach Al Golden assumed that the Owls were going bowling for the second straight year in the post-game press conference after the Ohio loss, a closer examination of the available data indicates that Temple could be left on the outside looking in with a loss.
That's because it's a 50/50 shot that all of the bowls MAC teams are listed as backups will be filled with primary conference tie-ins.
Win, and it's impossible to keep a nine-win Temple team out.
Lose, and it's a 50/50 shot at no bowl at all.
So this is the most important game of the year.
Until the bowl game.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mac Blogger Roundtable: Week 12

TFF's real and magnificent picks
Until I hit the lottery, I have two rules for betting:
1) Don't bet with real money;
2) Wait until the season is at least 10 weeks old (in order to get a perspective).
But I do like to test my knowledge of college football against Vegas, so I'm happy to report I am 5-1 this year against the spread.
Two weeks ago, I was 2-1.
Last week, I lost on Iowa at Northwestern, but won on Fresno State getting eight at Nevada (it lost, 35-34), Louisiana-Lafayette getting 10 against Florida Atlantic (it lost, 24-23) and Tulsa getting the 3 at Houston (Tulsa won the game outright, 30-28).
This week's picks:
Ohio State 21 at Iowa 10 (OSU favored by 3);
Northern Illinois 35 at Ball State 14 (NIU favored by 15);
WESTERN MICHIGAN 27, visiting Kent State 20 (WMU favored by 3);
Florida International 23 at Louisiana-Lafayette 20 (FIU favored by 10)

That hurt.
Sixteen returning starters, a Heisman Trophy candidate (going into the season, at least) and a team coming off a 9-3 season.
Another 9-3 season, to me, would seem to be going sideways.
So, at best, we're going sideways.
Unless we finish 9-3 and win a bowl game.
Then we're going forward.
Some of the more savvy amongst you might have noticed we changed our banner. Since Jan. 1, we put the heading "It's Title Time" in it.
Since there will be no MAC title, I'm removing it.
Congrats to either NIU or Ohio.
The title time headline does not fit anymore.

Now I have to answer questions from my MAC brethren in the weekly MAC Bloggers' Roundtable.
I can't remember a week I have been up for this less, but these guys have blogged through some pretty tough seasons (except for NIU) so I will soldier on this time.
1. Northern Illinois is having a nice season and appears to be getting stronger. Do you think NIU is a Top 25 team as of today?

I think of two guys who gave young Al Golden a clinic in game coaching and Jerry Kill was one of them. Frank Solich was the other. I think if NIU plays Penn State or some decent above Northwestern-level (Dan Persa is out) Big 10 team and wins, which I believe it will, NIU deserves a top 25.

2. We talk a lot about skill players, but the game of football is often won and lost on the front line. Evaluate your offensive and defensive fronts, including your best players.

Adrian Robinson has been a season-saver (blocked extra point against BG, stolen ball for TD against UConn) and Mo Wilkerson is one of the top defensive linemen in the country. I'm extremely disappointed in everyone else across both lines with the possible exception of Sean Daniels, a true freshman from Highstown, N.J., who is an incredible talent at DE.

3. Similarly, special teams are an often overlooked part of football. Evaluate your special teams thus far this season and what contribution they have made to winning….or losing.

I thought James Nixon would be more deadly on kickoffs and Delano Green on punts. Neither one were, unfortunately. Brandon McManus had a solid sophomore season, but he could not afford to miss an extra point in the Ohio game and he did just that. He is an NFL kicker, though. No doubt.

4. To date, what is your best memory of this season? And what memory are you currently seeing therapy to block from your memory.

My best memory is getting revenge against UConn, beating that team by two touchdowns, and then watching that team beat West Virginia and Pitt. My worst memory is sitting there in the rain against Ohio and watching Frank Solich run the same schemes he did a year ago against Al Golden and Al Golden, with a year to watch that film, does nothing substanitive to counter Solich.

5. BG and Toledo have their rivalry game this week, and your team has had one on the schedule somewhere. Do you think rivalries are important to the quality of play in the MAC, or are they a distraction that make it harder to get up for other games.

I love rivalries. I just don't think Temple has one with anyone in the MAC due to geography. Rutgers was the Big East rival and before that Delaware was the rival. Now Villanova is the rival for two more years.

6. Rank ‘em.

1. NIU

2. Ohio

3. Toledo

4. Temple

5. Miami

6. WMU

7. Kent

8. Ball State

9. Buffalo

10. BG

11. CMU

12. EMU

13. Akron

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Temple tops Lambert Trophy for one day

Army players hoisting the Lambert Trophy back in the day. This could have been us.
ECAC® Lambert Meadowlands Bowl Subdivision Football Poll
presented by FieldTurf ... as of Nov. 15, 2010:

Record Points

1. Temple 8-2 184

2. Syracuse 7-3 168

3. Penn State 6-4 158

3. Navy 7-3 158

5. Pittsburgh 5-4 156

6. West Virginia 6-3 120

7. Connecticut 5-4 78

8. South Florida 6-3 72

9. Army 6-4 56

10. Louisville 5-5 40

ARV: Rutgers, Boston College.
Well, this was nice while it lasted.
On Monday, for the first time I can remember, Temple was voted No. 1 in the Lambert Trophy balloting emblematic of football supremacy in the East.
Syracuse was No. 2.
Penn State was No. 3.
Pitt was No. 4.
West Virginia was No. 5.
And so on ...
I don't care how bogus you might think the poll is, it is something.
This used to be a much bigger deal than it is today because there were only eight bowls throughout most of the 50s and 60s.
Yet, I still think it's a big deal because Temple being No. 1 shows how far the program has come in terms of perception.
No. 1.
It lasted exactly one day. Maybe it would have lasted longer had the Owls not played and coached so poorly Tuesday night.
Maybe it could have lasted longer if they didn't inexplicably line up with five guys in the backfield on the first play of the game, negating a 67-yard run by Bernard Pierce. How you practice for nine days and then make that mental mistake on the first play of the game is beyond me.
Maybe it could have lasted longer if this running team had the gonads to run the ball on a crucial 3d and 1 later on in the game, instead of throwing it.
In one fell swope, Temple lost not only a chance for a MAC championship but a Lambert Trophy.
It would have been nice to have both trophies next to the Mayor's Cup at the E-O.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thoughts on the day after ...

There was a movie in back in the 1980s called "The Day After."
It was about the day after a nuclear war.
This morning after is not that bad, but close.
That's just the way I feel.

I can't imagine how it feels for the kids and the coaches who invested emotion and so much more into this program.
Kids are pretty resilient, though, and I hope they'll be back to playing Temple football in less than a week.
What is Temple football?
To me, it's running the ball behind a line that averages 318-pounds with an NFL first-round draft choice. I love Matty Brown. Love the kid. He's a change-of-pace back at best and a fill-in who can get you 226 in a pinch against Army.
I want my NFL first-rounder back on the field and, failing that, I would like to give a bigger back (Ahkeem Smith) a shot to carry the ball next week and chew some clock. Then throw play-action off the run.
Temple football on defense is getting after the quarterback and forcing turnovers and being fundamentally sound against the run.
I did not see much Temple football on either side of the ball last night.
This I do know, though.
For the second straight year, my favorite Owl, Bernard Pierce, missed the Ohio game.
Do I think he's glass?
I think this young man has had incredibly bad luck.
Do I think Temple wins with Bernard? Easily. This kid is a first-round NFL draft pick in April, 2012. Matty Brown? Love the kid, but IF he's lucky ... IF ... he might get a free-agent invite.
That's reality as I see it.
This trying to split carries between Matty and Bernard has been a disaster. Making Brown a feature back really is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Let's put the square pegs in the square holes and the round ones in the round holes.
Pierce, when healthy, needs to stay in the game and develop a rhythm. That's what he did so well for most of last year.
Let's hope he's healthy for the final two games.
I'm not one of those guys who refuse to give the other team props. My hat is off to Ohio and Frank Solich, who coached the tan pants off of Al Golden for the second year in a row. Ohio made plays and Temple didn't. For that alone, Ohio deserved to win.
This season has come down to this:
Win at Miami and the Owls go to the bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Lose at Miami and the Owls might not go bowling anywhere.
I hope to see you folks in Mobile.
More than that, I want to see real Temple football again and soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One day left: Get the word out

Nine days ago, I wrote a post entitled "Nine Days in November."
It was as much about our fans recruiting other Temple people to come to the game tomorrow night (8 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field) vs. Ohio to  support the Owls as it was about the importance of the game.
Better yet, spread the word by Facebook and Twitter to every sports radio station and TV station websites, write comments on after every Eagles' story. Do whatever you can.
Just don't sit back and hope 30K come. Be proactive.

This is an important game, no doubt.
How important?
Well, if the Owls win, they get a clear path to the championship game (Miami is an easier foe than Ohio).
If the Owls lose, there will be no championship.
If the Owls lose, they get sent to MAC Hell: The Hummanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, probably against a Hawaii or a Fresno State.
I don't see any more than 100 Owl fans making that trip, God forbid it ever happens.
That takes care of the football end of the business.
You could make a strong argument about a more important aspect of the game being a strong showing by Temple fans.
A strong showing by Temple fans (in my mind, 25K plus) would send a clear message to the rest of the world via a national television audience (ESPN2) that Temple can keep Al Golden, that Temple can be a viable presence in a BCS conference, that Temple football can deliver the nation's fourth-largest TV market in a big way (that last point was proven a year ago on Dec. 29).
Those are just some of the positive messages a packed house can bring.
A weak showing by our fans would be a disaster for Temple University's national image. We have a chance to change all of the negative stereotypes in just one night, so let's do it.
That's why I've pressed more strange flesh in the last nine days than a politician in October.
In the last few months, I've seen tons of people wearing Temple stuff. Just never had the guts to say anything to any of them.
Nine days ago, I made a commitment to approach every one of them.
Nine days, 37 people. I talked the game up to every one. Eight of those people said they were coming anyway. Another 20 said they'd think about it. One elderly couple said they haven't been to a Temple game in 20 years, but had nothing else to do Tuesday night and would be there.
Let's face it.
Our core fan base is 15K. It's a solid 15K. However, if each one of us recruited one or two more people outside our of group that base balloons to 30K or 45K.
In 24 hours, walk up to as many strangers wearing Temple stuff as you can.
Better yet, spread the word by Facebook and Twitter to every sports radio station and TV station websites, write comments on after every Eagles' story.
Do whatever you can.
Just don't sit back and hope 30K come. Be proactive.
These kids and this university deserves the support.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tuesday: Time to 'CherryOut' the Linc

This is the what I'll be wearing on Tuesday night

Props to Al Golden and the football team for supporting the basketball Owls last night at the Liacouras Center.
If you were there, you would have seen a packed house approaching the 10K capacity of the arena and it included Al and his family and the family of Temple football players.
Impressive stuff, considering that the football Owls are nearing  the end of an intensive nine days of practice for the "most important game Temple has played in 30 years" according to Al.
Al Golden is right about this one.
It is the most important game that Temple has played in the last 30 years.
Al and the players supported the university on Friday night. It's time for the university to support Al and the players on Tuesday night.
Heck, it is the most important college game in Philadelphia in the last 30 years as well.
Temple has to win the next two games for a chance to win the MAC championship game in Detroit, which is what this program's stated goal as been from the start.
Never has a college game been played in Philadelphia at the Division IA or FBS level with a conference championship on the line in November.

That alone makes this the most important college game in the city in the last 30 years or maybe ever.
You might say Army and Navy, but when were they playing for a conference championship? Pride between two prideful schools is one thing.
A conference championship is a whole other thing.

When you add in the fact that it's the only college football game on national TV (ESPN2) that night, nothing would put Temple University in a more positive light than a big, roaring crowd in the background.
If there ever was a time to "Cherryout" the Linc, it is now.
If Temple can draw 20K "Temple" people to D.C. in 11-degree wind chill, then at least 25-30K (and hopefully more) "Temple" people should be able to make the short trip to Lincoln Financial Field and wear their cherry proudly, whatever the weather is outside.
This is the hottest sports team in Philadelphia right now.
They deserve a rousing sendoff to postseason glory which only we and 29,999 or more of our closest friends can give them.

My picks today (I was 2 for 3 last week):
Iowa 30, Northwestern 17 (Iowa is a 10-point favorite on the road); Tulsa 33, Houston 30 (Tulsa is a 2 1/2-point underdog on the road); Fresno State 21, Nevada 19 (Nevada is an eight-point favorite at home) and Florida Atlantic 20, Louisiana-Lafayette 17 (LL is a 10-point dog on the road).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MAC Blogger Roundtable: Week 11

I have a sinking (stinking) feeling that the Owls will end up bowling here, my version of MAC hell, if they don't win their next two games. I can only hope they win the next two.

My car stalled out on the way home and  thanks to triple A got a tow and finished last in the MAC answers department.
Here are my Week 11  answers:

1. There are still six teams in the MAC who can become Bowl Eligible. The two with the toughest road to hoe are Kent and WMU, each with six losses. Do either, neither, or both teams make 6-6 and potentially see a bowl.

I think WMU slips in there because one of the other conference tie-in bowls will have non-qualifiers. Plus, I like Bill Cubit.

2. In the past two years three coaches from the MAC have “moved up”. Brady Hoke in 2008 and Turner Gill / Butch Jones in 2009. Which Coach or Coaches more out in 2010. Also which coaches get tossed on the garbage heap of failed and fired MAC coaches.

Everybody will come asking Al Golden (Minnesota, Colorado) but those aren't the areas in Al's recruiting footprint. I think he would be extremely uncomfortable recruiting there. According to a guy I work with who is PSU-connected, some pretty influential PSU backers have let Al know through backchannels that he's president's Graham Spanier's top choice as replacement for Joe in one or two years, that Al doesn't need to prove himself at any place but Temple. Al never wanted to go to Tennessee, East Carolina or Cincy. He wanted Temple and I think the only other job he'd want is Penn State. He doesn't want to go through the  sheer exhaustion of building a program like he did at Temple anywhere else. He can stay put at Temple and still go to PSU. He has all the time in the world. Plus Temple sweetened the pot by raising his salary from 575K to $1.2 mil. That's a pretty damn sweet pot.

3. Right now three MAC teams are getting votes in various polls (NIU, Temple, and Ohio). Is the MAC starting to upswing off of the (real or perceived) fall off from 2004-2009?

Only Bowl wins will tell. I see NIU and Temple winning bowl games this year.

4. So far this season what has been the story that defines the MAC? Which player’s, team’s, or mascot’s news headline is most representative of the conference as a whole.

I think Mike Gerardi defines the MAC. With him, there's no doubt in my mind Temple goes 10-0 so far.  No doubt.
It's shocking to me that Golden stayed with Chester Stewart out of loyalty and hurt his team's chance at true greatness. But Al is a stubborn guy so I admire his change of heart/head as much as I'm shaking my freaking head (smfh is the facebook abbreviation) over sticking with a guy who couldn't complete a play-action pass to save his life.

5. Rank MAC squads in order of pure 2010 Power

1. Temple

2. NIU
3. Toledo

4. Ohio

5. Miami Ohio

6. WMU

7. Ball State

8. Kent State

9. CMU

10. Buffalo

11. Bowling Green

12. Eastern Michigan

13. Akron

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Temple-Ohio: One person can make a difference

This is the greatest bargain in the history of sports marketing (seriously).

I was unpacking the groceries Tuesday at the Genaurdi's on Huntingdon Pike and saw an older lady wearing a Temple sweatshirt.
I see Temple sweatshirts all over the place these days.
I usually don't say anything.
This time, I did. I figured I could because I was rocking my Temple gear, too.
"Temple, huh?" I said. "We've got a big game on Tuesday."
"Football?" she said. "I've heard about it. I've never gone. I'm going to talk my husband into taking me."
"It should be fun," I said. "It's for the championship."
I put my stuff in my car and she put her stuff in hers.
Sold. Two tickets to Temple people for the Temple game.

One person can make a difference.
I'm going to bother as many strangers wearing Temple stuff as I can in the next few days.
I hope they all tell me they are going. I hope a lot of them tell me they are first-timers.
Going is the most important thing, though.
Being in the stands, suppporting kids playing football for your university in the most important game of their lives is a worthwhile endeavor if there ever was one.
I don't care if it's 8 p.m. on a Tuesday and you worked a full day and you have to be at work at 6 the next morning.
Has anyone ever heard of a sick day?
Has anyone ever heard of re-arranging their schedule?
How many among us have ever slept four hours or less to do something important?
I think all of us have.
Tuesday is that important a day to us, to the kids who play football for Temple, to the national image of the university as a whole.
Our usual 20,000 in a stadium that seats 70,000 won't cut it anymore.
People across the country will be saying the things they have been for years.
"Same old Temple."
"Yeah, Apathy U."
"We can't invite them to a BCS conference. Not with that support."
Put 40,000 in the house and all those perceptions change.
Most of all, the kids who put their bodies on the line for this university will finally get the support they deserve.
One person can make the difference in the next few days.
Yesterday it was me.
Today I hope it is you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One week until the best Tuesday ever

Great photo and sentiment by Temple's "very own" Scotty Hartkorn. Thanks, Scott.

By Mike Gibson
The lyrics of Carly Simon song come to mind when thinking about Temple football recently:
These are the good old days.
When you think about a story told by the numbers, these really are the good, old days and something to think about when I'm at the old folks' home in the rocking chair, comparing one Temple football era to another.
I hope this is just the beginning of a long string of good old days, but that remains to be seen.
With a 28-10 win at Kent State on Saturday, the 8-2 Owls have tied the winningest two-year span in the program's history and are well on their way to posting consecutive bowl seasons for the first time ever.
The coaches and the kids who play football for the university have held up their end of the bargain.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, though, it's time for the rest of the university community to do the same

They will go for a school-record 11-straight home wins in the final regular season home game.
Temple is now 17-3 in its last 20 regular-season games.
Head coach Al Golden (I prefer calling him Owl Golden) lost 16 of his first 20 games at Temple. He has now won 17 of his last 21.
The coaches and the kids who play football for the university have held up their end of the bargain.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, though, it's time for the rest of the university community to do the same.
That's the time of the next (and last) home game of the season against Ohio University in a game between the co-leaders of the Mid-American Conference's Eastern Division.
If the Owls win out, this will be the first game that I can remember with a championship on the line being played at college football's highest level (now Football Bowl Series) in the city of Philadelphia.
The entire nation will be watching (ESPN2) and a home crowd of 20,000 or so in a stadium that seats 70,000 won't cut it anymore. It will be the only football game on national TV that night and probably be on as background noise in every taproom and restaurant in the country.
The Owls have averaged a little more than 20,000 over their first five home games.
In my mind, they need to hit at least 30,000 and fill the lower bowl with a loud, enthusiastic crowd if they hope to impress.
Forty thousand would be even nicer.
Nothing would present a more positive image for the Temple "brand" than a packed house. Not a Poet Laureat. Not a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Not even a famous comedian.
The possibility of winning a championship in a packed stadium before a nation of eyeballs puts Temple on the map like nothing else. No amount of money can buy that kind of advertising.  It's the only game not only in this town, but every other town in America.
With 260,000 living alumni within driving distance of Lincoln Financial Field, it can be done. With 33,000 full-time students just a 10-minute hop on the subway away, it should be done.
Then Tuesday could possibly be the best of a long string of good old days.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nine Days in November

Owls let a championship slip through their fingers last year. Let's help them grab it in nine days.

You've heard of the movie title Seven Days in May.
Well, the movie to see if you are from Temple or ever cared about Temple is Nine Days in November.

Crunch time for Owls and their fans
(Photo courtesy Akron Beacon-Journal)

That's because these Nine Days in November, from today until Nov. 16, are the most important to the Temple University brand and image as any nine days have ever been.

We have nine days to fill the stadium for a national broadcast on ESPN2.
We have nine days to fill the stadium to support the Owls in what essentially is a conference (MAC East) championship game played in Philadelphia, the first time I can recall a title game ever for a Division IA (OK, FBS) team ever being played in this city.
The stakes of this game are THAT enormous and that important.
The benefits of getting a huge crowd are too many to list here.
Suffice it to say, it will open the eyes of the nation not just to win this game but win it in a packed, loud, enthusiastic stadium.
With all of this conference shifting being discussed, could anything help the Owls and Temple more than a big crowd?
In a word, no.
In fact, you can make a strong argument that the nation would be more impressed with a crowd of 30-35,000 filling the entire lower bowl of Lincoln Financial Field than it would be with an Owl win.
I'm greedy, though.
I want both.
I want the big crowd going crazy and the big win.
We can have both if we all knock on doors, pick up the phone and get five friends to come to the game with us.
Temple vs. Ohio

Tuesday, November 16 at 8 PM
Lincoln Financial Field
* Temple Employee Night! Temple Employees receive special discounted tickets (as low as $12 for end zone tickets) with ID at the Box Office!
* Bring a Canned Food item to the game - receive a ticket for as low as $12!
* College Night! All area college students can receive a ticket for only $5 with ID!
* First 5,000 fans receive a Rally Towel - sponsored by Verizon Wireless and Snyder's of Hanover!
Game starts at 8 p.m., so no excuses about missing work or it being too cold or SEPTA strikes or Phillies games or nor'easters allowed.
No excuses about it being on a Tuesday night and you have to work the next day.
I don't want to see any live game threads on any Temple message boards during that game.
Get on a damn bus, subway, plane, cab or drive to the game. Don't sit home and watch. This is an all-hands-on-deck, all-asses-in-seats game if there ever was one.
It's that important to the university's national and local image that a good chunk of the 260,000 living alumni and 33,000 full-time students set aside this block of three hours on Nov. 16 to be at this happening.
Nine days in November.
That should be enough time.

Girls, come back. We need you and 32,995 other full-time Temple students to make another appearance at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16 for the championship of the world and a Michelob Light (in your case, free $5.75 sodas). How great would it be to have 30K students and 40K alumni there? Damn great, I'd say.

Last Saturday game of the year for Owls

Dix Stadium, home of the final Temple Saturday game of the year.

Temple vs. Kent St.
Starting time: 2 p.m.
Radio: WPHT (1210 AM)
TV: MAC-SPORTS.COM (pay site)
One of the things I'm proudest of is never betting Temple games and that's true every year and certainly this year and on this day, unbelievably the last Saturday game of the year for the Owls (2 p.m., at Kent State).
The heart is too strong and my head can't stand losses to my heart (if the Owls lose) and solar plexis (wallet, although I don't put it there) twice on the same day.
Yet I never cease to be amazed by how good Vegas is with these odds every week.
Last week against Akron, the line for the five days preceeding the game was 29 1/2 points.
Temple won, 30-0.
The morning of the game the line jumped up to 30.5. My friend, who shall remain nameless, jumped on it nonetheless and lost some serious coin on one of those internet betting sites.
I'm telling him now like I tell every die-hard Temple fan. Don't bet Temple. Don't bet with or against Temple. Watch the game, enjoy it, root like crazy for the Owls. But don't bet it.
Both my heart and head says a "comfortable" Temple today, somewhere in the 10-point range, say, 27-17.
Vegas, though, disagrees.
It calls for an "uncomfortable" Temple win of 3 1/2 points. Since you can't win by 3 1/2 points, I'm guessing it will go 17-14 today.
Guessing, not betting since I'm too much of a wimp. My bookie moved out to Sandy, Utah, 10 years ago and I haven't used a bookie since. I don't like putting my credit card number online, particularly to an offshore company, so I don't do that, either.
Plus, being flat-out broke doesn't help.
So I have my reasons for not betting real dough.
But I'm knowledgeable on college football, particularly the non-BCS conferences, and I like to pit that knowledge against Vegas with play money. I do OK with play money.
If Delaware or Pennsylvania every brings in legalized sports betting, I'm there with the real cash on a very limited basis.
I do much better on games I'm emotionally detached from so that's why I like these ones this week (for amusement purposes only, of course):
Army 17, Air Force 14 _ Army is a 7-point underdog at home. Air Force is not the dominating team it has been the last few years. Army is good.
Florida 31, Vandy 10 _ Gators are a 14-point favorite on the road. I got to believe if UConn beats Vandy by 19, Florida beats Vandy by 21.
Fresno State 24, Louisiana Tech 20 _ Fresno State is a 2-point road favorite. Fresno State is good. Louisiana Tech not so good.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MAC Blogger Roundtable

Average MAC attendance
(games through 10/16)

Temple 22,273
Toledo 22,266
OU 20,978
CMU 20,741
KSU 20,377
NIU 17,762
BGSU 17,530
WMU 17,350
EMU 16,140
Miami 15,738
Buffalo 15,293
Akron 12,716
Ball State 10,696

Fire Up Chips has the questions this week and I'll try to give some answers:

I. Northern Illinois has maintained steam from the primordial ooze of preseason rankings, while the Ohio Bobcat are building steam and look like they could make a return trip to Detroit. With only a handful of games left, which teams do you foresee playing in Detroit?

TFF: Temple and NIU.

II. Since it is my turn this week, I would like to bring my fellow knights a problem which has vexed both peasant and gentry class alike in Mt. Pleasant.

"Dust thou thinkest that Sir. Dan Enos should be banished from the goodly folk of Mt. Pleasant for his blackguard performance and 2 - 7 record thus far? There is much talk in all reaches of the Central Michigan Kingdom that he has squandered our season with a playbook so bad it must be from France! What say you!"

TFF: No, they made two good hires in Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. They get a pass on this one. I'm not a big believer in hiring assistant coaches, although it worked out at my uni (Al Golden). When AG goes, I want a proven head coach at this level to take over. Assistants are crapshoots.
III. If you accept the premise that the playing field in completely level in the MAC, then shouldn't long time coaches like Bill Cubit at Western Michigan and Herb Martin at Kent State have to win a championship within 10 years or risk being fired?

TFF: No, because Bill Cubitt has a few Big 10 pelts on his wall. Give me a guy who can beat Big 10 talent with a MAC recruiting budget any day.

IV. Who is your front runner for MAC Coach of The Year?

TFF: Jerry Kill. That guy can flat-out coach.

V. What is your favorite Michael J. Fox movie from his golden era of film making 1984 - 1986?

TFF: Back to the Future.

1. Temple
2. NIU
3. Ohio
4. Western Michigan
5. Ohio
6. Central Michigan
7. Kent State
8. Miami
9. Bowling Green
10. Ball State
11. Buffalo
12. Eastern Michigan
13. Akron

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A super game plan guaranteed to beat Kent

A few thousand Temple fans in the crowd of 106,000 go crazy watching Bernard Pierce  score twice against PSU.

Kent State by the numbers:
1) It leads the MAC in rushing defense, allowing just 65.9 yards per game and 2.1 yards per carry.
2) Kent State and Northern Illinois are tied for the MAC lead in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed with nine.
3) Ohio, by comparison, is No. 2 in the conference against the run, allowing 115.0.
4) Senior middle linebacker and Michigan transfer Cobrani Mixon has a team-high 65 tackles, including 9.0 tackles for a loss, and 4.5 sacks.
5) Outside linebacker Dorian Wood has 60 tackles, including 10 for losses.
6) Cornerback Norman Wolfe has four interceptions.
7) Defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix has nine sacks.
From reading some of the comments about Kent State before this Saturday's (2 p.m. start) game, you might think Temple is playing Clark Kent and not Kent State.
(Clark Kent was Superman. The Golden Flashes are no Supermen.)
This is a team that lost at Penn State, 24-0.
Temple, on the other hand, hung tough at PSU and lost, 22-13, and the Owls were leading when Bernard Pierce went down with an ankle sprain. Penn State had no shot at stopping The Franchise, but did a nice job stopping his backup, Matty Brown.
So I have a Temple game plan guaranteed to beat Clark Kent, err, Kent State.
Bernard Pierce.
Toss in a little more Bernard Pierce on top of the Bernard Pierce you already have.
When Gale Sayers played for the Chicago Bears, you didn't see Rocky Bleier come in for one series and and Gale the next.
If Penn State couldn't stop The Franchise, Kent State sure won't.
Ditch this stupid Matt Brown in for one series, Bernard Pierce in for the next, experiment. Matt Brown is a valuable member of the Owls. I would use him as a third-down slot back, a David Meggett-type back. To have him split carries with Pierce, I think, is foolhardy on Temple's part and only helps the opposition.
When Gale Sayers played for the Chicago Bears, you didn't see Rocky Bleier come in for one series and and Gale the next.
When Jim Brown played for the Cleveland Browns, you didn't see Leroy Kelly coming in for one series and Brown the next.
When Paul Palmer played for the Temple Owls, you didn't see Shelley Poole come in for one series and Paul come in for the next.
When you've got a Machine Gun in a firefight, you don't set it aside and shoot every other guy with a pistol.
That's what Bernard Pierce means to the Temple Owls.
Establish Pierce left, right and up the middle behind that 318-pound average offensive line and I guarantee you all sorts of good stuff off ball fakes to Pierce will open up for quarterback Mike Gerardi, who throws an exceptional play-action pass.
Once Pierce is established, Kent will crowd the line and guys like Rod Streater, Alex Jackson, Michael Campbell and Evan Rodriguez will be running so free through the secondary that Gerardi's toughest decision will be choosing which ones to pick out.
By that time, Gerardi will have thrown at least three touchdown passes.
Then go back to more Pierce to run out the clock and put the game on ice.
That's my game plan.
Will Temple use it?
If the Owls want to win convincingly, they will. If they want to play down to the level of competition, like they did against CMU and Bowling Green, they'll keep ill-advised two-back shuttle system.