Friday, April 29, 2011

(Fellow) Eagles' fans are in for a treat

Jarrett's hit at 0:23 of this video is the greatest I've ever seen, high school, college or pro.

My weekends are pretty much set around a Temple game in person on Saturday and an Eagles' game by the TV on Sunday.
Those two days seem to go by in like five minutes.
That's why I could not be happier for my main man Jaiquawn Jarrett today after the Eagles selected him in the second round.
Or myself.
As a Temple fan, I am going to miss him leaving the family.
As an Eagles' fan, I'm going to adopt him as my favorite player.
The Eagles have missed that hard-hitting safety since Brian Dawkins left. They haven't had anybody who could bring the wood since.
I really believe UConn lost its will to win after that hit. The Huskies did not want to get hit from that spot in the game forward.

Jarrett, to me, is a younger, faster, version of Brian Dawkins.

I said that all season. It wasn't surprising that Andy Reid said that at the press conference. Reid said a lot of other nice things about Temple, calling the school "an educational Mecca" and saying "that program is really rolling now."
I think the way it will eventually shake down is that Nate Allen will be a starting free safety (he's more of a floater-type cover guy anyway) and Jarrett will be moved to strong safety, where his primary cover responsibility will be tight ends.
He will do more than fine there.
"Temple is an educational Mecca"
_Andy Reid

His hit of Jordan Todman, a great back from UConn, in the above video is the single greatest hit I've ever seen. You get a flavor for it from the video, but you really had to be there to hear and see it in person and experience the crowd's awe-struck reaction afterward.
I really believe UConn lost its will to win after that hit. The Huskies did not want to get hit from that spot in the game forward.
That's what Jarrett brings to the game.
It is somewhat consoling to know that I will still see it on my weekends, albeit the second half this year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Muhammad Wilkerson: Temple Royalty

Big Mo makes that Temple helmet look real good.

"I'll represent Temple strong. I'm always going to represent the Temple team and show that Temple can continue to produce elite athletes for the next level."
_ Mo Wilkerson
The only place you'll find me at 4 a.m. on any morning is deep in dreamland.
I won't be getting up to watch the Royal Wedding tomorrow.
However, if the NFL draft was being held at 4 a.m. and a Temple player was certain to be picked in the first round, I would be up for that.
Muhammad Wilkerson proves that if you sign a scholarship at Temple and are good enough, you will be fast-tracked to "the league." You will be playing in an NFL stadium in front of an NFL coach and general manager whose kid plays on the same team you do.

Mike Pouncey gets some love from Steve Addazio. Would
have been nice to see Al Golden or Mark D'Onofrio return
the favor for Muhammad Wilkerson.

To me, Muhammad Wilkerson is Temple Royalty. He is the only non-BCS player who will be picked in the first round. Let that thought swirl around in your head just a little bit.
Like a Solar Eclipse, those kind of things don't come around often.
(Although I expect that they will happen moreso if Steve Addazio lives up to his reputation as a recruiter.)

Fortunately, neither you nor I will have to lose any sleep over this first-round pick. He made "the league" after only two years at Temple.
It's hard to hide playing from the NFL when you are playing in one of their stadiums.
Having had the pleasure of watching Big Mo for the last two years, I know he will make an impact right away at either the defensive end or defensive tackle position.
There are plenty of DE/DT types who excel at one thing and not at another. Corey Simon was a great run-stopper, not so great at rushing the passer. Trent Cole is great at rushing the passer, not so good at stopping the run.
Wilkerson is great at both things. Plus, with basketball leaping ability at 6-foot-5, he'll knock down more passes than just about anyone else. He's got interchangable skills at both DE and DT and that's got to make him valauble in a sport that has so many injuries.
Plus, he's a terrific human being.
We at Temple know that.
On Sundays, due to the lockout maybe not this fall but certainly not too far into the future, all the football fans in America will soon find that out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


"After all I did to change the helmet to TEMPLE, Addazio is doing WHAT?"
I could see Al Golden was doing some of the right things way back when he was getting some wrong results.
Nothing made me jump for joy after a 1-11 first season like something in did in the off season after that year.
He ditched the T logo on the helmet for the classic throwback TEMPLE helmet.
It might not mean much to you and some of the other younger TEMPLE fans, but TEMPLE on the helmets meant a lot to me.
"We're doing it to get back to our brand," Golden said at the time. "When I was growing up Temple had a lot of  really good, tough, physical, teams and they all had that distinctive Temple on the helmet. We want to get back to those days."
Those were pretty good days as I recall.
Let's see.
In the Wayne Hardin days of the TEMPLE helmet, the Owls won 82, lost 50 and tied 1, regularly scared Penn State, beat the crap out of West Virginia (38-16) AT WEST VIRGINIA, beat the crap out of a bowl-bound Syracuse team (49-17), WON a bowl game, beating a PAC-10 team (28-17) ... etc., etc.
In the Bruce Arians days of the TEMPLE helmet, the Owls twice won six games (against the 10th, not 119th toughest sked in the country) and had a Heisman Trophy runner up in Paul Palmer. Also, they were 5-0 against MAC teams, beat a bowl-bound MAC team (Toledo) by a 35-6 score and beat Pitt in 3 of 5 seasons.
In the last two years of the Al Golden TEMPLE helmet, the Owls won 17 and lost 8 in consecutive regular seasons.
In the T years, the Owls were largely the biggest joke in college football.
Can you see why I don't like the T?
Final Poll Results:
Keep it TEMPLE: 53%
Go to the T logo: 46%

Bad Karma.
I know it's the school logo and all, but put it on the field. Hey, you can even put it on the stripes down pants. The coaches can wear baseball caps with it featured.
Just don't put it on the helmets.
In the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a deal but it feels like a big thing to me now.
Tennessee has a T on its helmets. So does Tulane.
TEMPLE was telling people who we are and where we came from.
I liked that distinction. Plus, I think it looks better.
"I talked with a lot our coach Hardin's guys," Steve Addazio said his first day on the job, "and I appreciate some of you guys."
Addazio wouldn't have appreciated ANY of those guys on Cherry and White Day because, trust me, I talked to them and nobody liked the new helmet.
If he really appreciates those guys, and he should, he would rethink this ill-conceived idea.
If there's a way to go back to TEMPLE on the helmets, I think that Steve Addazio should find that GPS and right this wrong Karma before it gets too far.
Only one of the T teams did anything worth a damn and that was the Dick Beck-captained 1990 Owls, who won seven games and were screwed out of a bowl after beating Boston College, 29-10, in Boston. Those Owls also beat Wisconsin. At Wisconsin.
If it can't be done, I won't like it but I can live with it especially if the Owls can beat the only Big 10 team on their schedule this year.
Then, as one of the ex-Owls alluded on Saturday, he can put a photo of himself on one ear flap and Chuck Heater's mug on the other for all I care.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Plenty to like about Daz's first C&W Day

Steve Addazio said he was sitting out Adrian Robinson and Bernard Pierce because they "had great springs" and quarterback Chris Coyer "was fine" in this video that features iconic SID Al Shrier walking around in the background wearing the worst possible logo on his hat.

You can tell a lot about initial impressions.
I thought about that while walking into the Edberg-Olson Football Complex, oh, about 9:59 a.m. on Saturday morning.
The sound blasting in the background was Ce Lo Green's hit "Forget You" which featured the cleaned-up version of the original viral hit lyrics.
I thought how nice to dedicate a song to Villanova, the next Owl opponent.
Or, someone said walking next to me, Al Golden.
"Ouch," I said.
I understood where he was coming from, though.
My school of thought on Al Golden is, simply, this:
There was no man alive who Bill Bradshaw could have hired at the time who could have pulled Temple's football program out of the quick sand better than Al Golden.
He was the right man for THAT time.
If yesterday showed me anything, Steve Addazio might be the right man for THIS time.
One of the players' dads might have said it best.
"These guys are big-time SEC coaches," he said. "Can you imagine these MAC coaches having stuff thrown at them like these guys are going to throw at them? Their heads will be spinning."
I say might because we won't know until the real numbers start pouring in from the West Coast precincts, but here are some real numbers I'm looking for this season:
1) A 35-14 (or better) win over Villanova on Sept. 1 (55-3 would be preferable);
2) A 10-2 (or better) record.
If the first number comes in, go to Vegas and place a sheckle or two on the second number coming to fruition.
"These guys are big-time SEC coaches. Can you imagine these MAC coaches having stuff thrown at them like these guys are going to throw at them? Their heads will be spinning."
_ Temple player's dad

The first number is important because, for all of Al's admirable qualities, he couldn't put away a seven-win FCS team and he lost to a national champion FCS team with a nine-win FBS team. That should not happen.
The second number is important because Golden set the bar high with that nine-win season two years ago and also because Al left Temple a wonderful parting gift:
Plenty of good ones.
Plenty of returning starters.
Plenty of really good talent he stashed away with a red shirt last year.
Myron Myles was one of them.
He gained 187 yards and caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Connor Reilly.
Even Michael Doty, the less famous sibling of UConn superstar women's basketball player Caroline Doty, caught a long touchdown pass.
They didn't release depth charts but my guess is that Mike wasn't on the first or second team.
Just a hunch.
There was sooooo much talent on that field yesterday it's hard to know where to start.
James Nixon is going to be the greatest kickoff returner in America next year. You read that here first.
ERod and AJax will be the best tight end combo in the MAC. It's not even close. Let's stretch the field with the spread and watch the seams open up on the inside with dump offs to Eric Rodriguez and Alex Jackson.
I hope they put Nixon back on offense where he can stretch the field out of the spread with Rod Streater and Joe Jones and company.
The difference between Al and Daz as I saw it on the field yesterday was that Daz seems to be able to put these guys in better spots to utilize their talents. I just hope he finds someone else to punt by Sept. 1 because I don't want to expose my NFL leg to a season-ending injury on a roughing-the-punter play. I want to use him for kickoffs and extra points only. Maybe a couple of field goals.
My friend, Ray, knows more nuts and bolts football than most guys I know.
"It's hard to tell from a scrimmage," Ray said. "But I know what I know and this is the most excited I've been coming out of a Cherry and White game in years."
It's nice to think that on your own, but it's doubly nice when you can get that kind of validation from several good football sources.
Speaking of whom, Eagles' coach Andy Reid was there. I thought I saw him over by the food trucks saying this was the greatest campus in America.
Reid sent his son to play for Daz, so that tells you all you need to know about how Andy Reid feels about Daz and being Temple TUFF.
Speaking of Temple TUFF, loved the T-shirts. I walked up to the table, wanted to buy one and the beautiful young lady there said, "Sorry, sir, this is for students only."
I thought this was Alumni Weekend.
On the way out, I saw the classic Temple football helmet being sold. The one with TEMPLE on it.
I thought that might be the last time I ever saw one, so I bought it.
In the parking lot afterward, I ran into some ex-Temple football players holding their tailgate. I told them about the T on the helmet.
Nobody liked it.
Hey, Daz has stepped up to the plate and gotten a hit most times since Dec. 23. He can afford a few swings and misses.
"If we beat Penn State, I don't care what he puts on it," I said.
"Hey," one of the players said, "if we beat Penn State, he can put his picture on the side of the helmet if he wants to ..."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cherry and White kickoff now at 10 a.m.

... Due to work and other time constraints, Cherry and White report will appear around noon on Sunday ... Go Owls .... and go T helmets (that means leave)....

Chester Stewart has drawn high praise from Steve Addazio recently.

Rain coming in earlier than expected (2 p.m.). Kudos to Temple for changing time of kickoff to 10 a.m.
Every so often, people ask me about the Temple gear I rock.
When it comes to Temple, there are few people who represent as well as I do.
Always the Temple hat, always in the gym with the Temple T-shirts and about once a week with my official Penn State game worn Al Golden Sweatshirt, circa 2008.
"Mike, where'd you get that?" someone will ask.
Invariably, with the exception of Al Golden sweatshirt (Patti Hagel in Temple athletics sold that to me), I will tell them four words:
"Cherry and White Day."
"Sweet," they'll say.
Then I always invite them to c'mon down.
You can get more good Temple stuff on the cheap at Cherry and White Day than all of the 364 other days put together.
It's sold right there.
Last year, I got a sweet cherry-colored Temple-UCLA Official Eagle Bank Bowl T-Shirt for $10.
You can get official game jerseys for $20.
Just bring cash.
That's my No. 1 priority every Cherry and White Day.
As far as the game itself, call me Allen Iverson.
"We're talking about practice."
Any way you slice it, Cherry and White Day is still practice.
A glorified practice, a necessary practice, but still practice.
I go, though, because I enjoy everything about Temple football.
I enjoy talking Temple football to my friends.
I enjoy watching Temple football players.
I enjoy watching how coaches coach.
And I buy Temple stuff because I can't get it at Kohl's or Walmart.
So this is the one "practice" I make every year.
Not much to take away from the football end of this endeavor, though.
Last year, Chester Stewart looked like the best quarterback in the program on Cherry and White Day.
On game days in the fall, not so much.
I had enough of Chester Stewart, probably forever, after a putrid performance at Penn State when he threw three interceptions that, if I didn't know any better, I could swear he thought those PSU guys were wearing White jerseys and not Blue ones.
It took Al Golden a little longer to reach his tolerance level.
Too long.
Adam DiMichele was an OK practice quarterback who lived for a pass rush. I never saw a kid duck out of one so courageously and make positive plays after positive plays in the middle of a tornado like DiMichele did. The damn kid was freaking Houdini

Once he did, though, the Owls got back on track, survived a huge scare against Bowling Green and then beat Buffalo (42-0) and Kent State (28-10) largely due to poised, if not spectacular, performances from Mike Gerardi.
This year, who the bleep knows?
Mike McGann was a great practice quarterback who crumbled under a pass rush. Ditto for Vaughn Charlton and, IMHO, Stewart.
To be a great quarterback in college football these days, the pass rush must not fluster you. Bother, yes. Fluster, no.
Adam DiMichele was an OK practice quarterback who lived for a pass rush. I never saw a kid duck out of one so courageously and make positive plays after positive plays in the middle of a  tornado like DiMichele did. The damn kid was freaking Houdini. The more clutch the situation, the more clutch the play. How about the game-winning touchdown pass to Steve Manieri in the rain against Ohio on national TV? Or the should-have-been game-winning drive at Buffalo with 38 seconds left? Or the six touchdown passes against Eastern Michigan?
Will I get to see the next Adam DiMichele on Saturday?
Probably not.
We'll have to wait until Villanova.
Hopefully, Steve Addazio and Scot Loeffler will pick the right guy.
Al Golden did a great job in just about every area of his tenure but in picking a quarterback post-DiMichele he was a huge failure. His whole offensive scheme was out of whack without DiMichele.
Addazio needs to get this right.
He needs to find someone with the "it" factor. Addazio talked about the quarterback "it" factor his first day on the job here. Al Golden never talked about the it factor.
Addazio gets the it factor.
Other than that, I want to see a pass rush and a good offensive line. The schools that win championships in college football are the ones who protect their quarterback and who put the other guy's quarterback on his ass.
I want to see someone help my main man, Adrian Robinson, collapse the pocket. Maybe it will be Highland's Sean Daniels, who I have high hopes for, or maybe it will be North Catholic's Paulhill or maybe it will be Neumann-Goretti's Kadeem Custis.
I've got an idea.
How about everybody just meet at the quarterback?
Most of all, let's get out a this scrimmage healthy and I'm talking about my favorite future Heisman Trophy winning Owl, specifically.
It is, after all, only practice.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Villanova rejection: The gift that keeps on giving

I guess this is what Villanova fans look like to Villanova revisionists.

Full disclosure.
I like Villanova football.
I always have.
It was pretty much been my second-favorite college team from the time I was, oh, about 10 until just about two years ago when the Mayor's Cup series started.
I still (secretly) root for Villanova when it plays anyone but Temple only because Villanova wins make Temple look good, especially last year when Temple won the game.
Andy Talley is one of my favorite coaches of all time. As great a coach as Andy Talley is (and he is a great coach), he's an even better person.
But I've had it up to here (I'm holding one hand way over my head while typing with the other) with Villanova fans.
And because of them, with Villanova football itself.
There's some delicious irony in this story in that Villanova blocked Temple from full all-sports admission to the Big East in 1991 and, 20 years later, Temple's ironclad 15-year lease to Lincoln Financial Field is blocking Villanova football from admission to that same conference.
It's a beautiful thing.
That's why I'm not weeping for Villanova today.
They were, as Walt Frazier says in the Just For Men commercial:
The Big East courted them the last few months like a girl who looks good 40 yards away.
In college, we'd call them 40-yarders.
The closer they got, the uglier they looked.
As you walked closer with two drinks in hand (one to offer her), you would veer off at the last second.
There's some delicious irony in this story in that Villanova blocked Temple from full all-sports admission to the Big East in 1991 and, 20 years later, Temple's ironclad 15-year lease to Lincoln Financial Field is blocking Villanova football from admission to that same conference.

"Mike, that's a dude," my friend would say.
"Not a dude, but not as pretty as I thought she looked."
Then we'd both veer away, drinks in hand.
Any way you slice it, that's pretty much what the Big East football members did to Villanova on Sunday.
For Big East courting purposes, if Villanova isn't a dude, it's one butt-ugly girl.
No stadium.
No fans.
No hope of getting a stadium. (Temple has an ironclad exclusivity clause in its lease on Lincoln Financial Field through the 2018 season and probably well beyond that.)
No hope of getting fans.
It's over.
Villanova is not going to the Big East for football, no matter how its Board of Trustees votes.
If it ever does vote.
Heck, the Villanova fanbase makes Temple look like Penn State by comparison.
The Mayor's Cup figures show it.
By most objective estimates, Temple had 22K of the 27K fans for the first Mayor's Cup.
Temple had about 25-28K of the 32K last year, maybe more.
Yet you have some crazy revisonist Villanova fans saying it was more of a 60-40 split in favor of Temple. It was, if Villanova fans were wearing Temple sweatshirts and hats and painted in Cherry and White and filling both sides of the lower bowl of the stadium.

Eigthy/20 if anything.
It's important because if one thing Al Golden accomplished in five years, it was to make Temple Philadelphia's No. 1 college football team in terms of interest.
Temple not only proved that in two meetings with Villanova on the field of play, it proved that in the TV ratings when the Temple-UCLA bowl numbers showed it was the highest rated bowl game on ESPN in the Philly market since the 2007 Alamo Bowl that featured Penn State.
Temple delivers hard numbers in football.
It is also the best option for delivering the nation's fourth-largest TV market.
Those numbers only figure to get better as a team that has won 17 games over the last two years returning 14 starters is handed over to a battle-tested national championship level SEC staff.
If I was Temple, I would take that fourth-largest market and deliver it to Conference USA tomorrow. The Big East doesn't figure to come calling and Temple should act in its own best interests if it doesn't.
All I heard about was how it was "a lock" for the Big East for the past few weeks. Done deal, they said.
Done deal.
Yeah, I guess it is.
I'm enjoying seeing a lot of people wearing blue wipe egg off their faces.
Almost as much as I'm looking forward to the epic level beatdown that now becomes mandatory for Steve Addazio and company on Sept. 1.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Red flags and green flags for the Owls

The Owls probably won't even need Matt Falcone (15) to punt because they
will  be scoring touchdowns on every possession like depicted here. Still,
it would be nice to save Brandon McManus strictly for the 157 extra points
he will need to kick in the 2011 season.

Follow Temple football for 30-plus years, like I have, and you might have seen a lot of red flags along the way.
A red flag, by my definition, is one thing that leads a person to believe that the outcome of a particular endeavor probably won't be desirable.
I saw a red flag in Temple's hiring of Jerry Berndt, for example. How could Temple hire a guy to coach one group of Owls when he was coming off an 0-11 season coaching another group of Owls (Rice)?
I saw a red flag in the hiring of Ron Dickerson. Joe Paterno called him the best assistant coach in the country. If so, how come Dickerson, as defensive coordinator at Clemson, gave up 55 points in his last game?
Bobby Wallace? Don't get me started. How do you expect a guy who has no East Coast roots to coach an East Coast team?
This is the only red flag I care about.
Red flags all.
Big red flags.
I've met Steve Addazio.
I like Steve Addazio.
Spring practice, by all accounts, is going very well.
That doesn't mean that he doesn't have to jump over some red flags to earn my trust or really the trust of every Temple fan.
I'm willing to overlook the one red flag that every Florida fan seems to hate the guy because, in my mind, the buck stops with a head coach and he hasn't been a head coach since Cheshire, Conn. If Addazio has any Florida sins, they were forgiven because no less a football expert than Urban Meyer saw fit to forgive them.
Still, I have some concerns.
I have not heard yet that there is a plan for a reliable, explosive, backup to Bernard Pierce. Maybe there will be. Geez, I hope so.  I don't see a kid with close to Pierce-like talent in the program and that includes Matty Brown. Maybe when Nate Smith gets settled he will be but we don't even know if he will  play running back.
No Pierce-like backup in sight so far. That's a red flag.
Having Brandon McManus punt?
Not a big deal to Steve Addazio.
It's a big deal to me.
I don't want that valuable leg exposed to twice the injury risk so, by Villanova, I hope I see Matty Falcone punting (I know he's injured now). Falcone was a first-team all-state punter at Palmerton High. Falcone was a special teams' star for the Owls in the 2009 season, who missed all last year with a leg injury. Hopefully, he'll get to kick some by July. If Matty can't do it, somebody can. I find it hard to believe that in a school of 37,000 full-time students (OK, 18,000 boys) you can't find a kid who can punt a football dependably.
Other than that, more green flags so far.
According to a few of the players I've spoken to, to a man they say "Addazio has us working twice, maybe three times, as hard as Golden did."
Not one kid complained about it, either, saying that the extra conditioning will pay off in November and December.
Maybe even January.
Cherry and White game, 2:30 p.m., April 16

Practices are superbly organized and everyone seems ultra impressed with the way offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and defensive coordinator Chuck Heater go about their business.
Loeffler is a professional at moving the ball and scoring touchdowns and Heater is the same way about stopping the ball and going the other way with it.
Addazio seems to be respected and hands-on, but not a micro manager like the last guy was.
That's a good thing, not a bad thing.
Being a big-time college coach requires wearing too many hats to be a micro manager. You've got to hire great people and give them shared responsibility.
Addazio seems to have done that.
If all we have to worry about are backups at punter and running back, I'll take it.
For now.