Thursday, September 29, 2011

MAC Blogger Roundtable: Week 5

Steve Addazio gives Temple fans a healthy dose of Vitamin A.

Add Toledo to the list of MAC teams screwed by Big East refs.
As a MAC fan, I'm still steaming from the Big East ripping off Toledo at Syracuse.
As a Temple fan, it was UConn redux.
Official makes an incorrect call, then the BIG EAST replay official blows an obvious call.
Both times, the Big East apologized to the MAC teams for making the mistake.
If that doesn't prove Big East replay officials are corrupt or incompetent, I don't know what does.
Now onto the MAC blogger roundtable, hosted by Eagle Totem (Eastern Michigan).
My answers are highlighted in yellow below:
1. What team and what player has been the biggest upside (better than expected) surprise so far? What team and what player has been the biggest disappointment so far?

Bernard Pierce has been the best Temple player, but that's expected. The Temple player with the biggest upside (unexpected by most) to me, has been cornerback Anthony Robey, a redshirt freshman. He has been a lock-down cover and brings attitude to the job. It also helps to run a 4.3 40. I can't think of a disappointing player on Temple. I haven't seen much of the league outside Temple, so I can't comment on that.

2. Evaluate your team's performance, relative to your pre-season expectations?
I thought Temple would be 3-1, but with a win over Penn State, followed by a letdown loss to Maryland. As it turned out, the PSU loss pissed off the Owls so much they played with an incredible fire against Maryland that resulted in a 38-7 win.

3. What is one key thing you'll be watching for over the next four games?

To see if Ohio, Temple, Northern Illinois or Toledo is capable of separating from the rest of the pack.

4. Although the PAC-12 seems to have put the breaks to the whole affair for now, how do you see conference realignment affecting the MAC?
I don't see the MAC losing more than one team.

5. If you could pick two (at least somewhat realistic) teams to join the MAC for football as a result of conference realignment or advancement from a lower division, what teams would you pick?

I'd like to see one of the Florida teams (FIU, realistically) join the MAC along with Marshall, which makes a lot more sense for the MAC than it does in the CUSA. Marshall adds a value to the MAC than UMass doesn't.

6. Rank 'em.

Northern Illinois
Bowling Green
Western Michigan
Ball State
Eastern Michigan
This week's picks:
Last week, was a bad week.
Picking football is a little like the stock market. You are going to have bad weeks, but just don't have a bad year.
We were 3-5 straight up and 2-6 against the spread. One of those losses was when the Big East refs screwed Toledo. We had picked Toledo both against the spread and straight up. Another came when Penn State up, 31-0, allowed Eastern Michigan to cover the 29-point spread by a point, 34-6.
Last week:
SU: 3-5
ATS: 2-6
Record for the season:
SU: 22-13
ATS: 18-13
This week's picks, lines courtesy of Tuesday's USA Today (HOME team in CAPS):
TEMPLE 35 (7), Toledo 21 _ I'm a believer now. Steve Addazio has the Owls focused. Last week was an incredible focus job after a bitter disappointment.
WEST VIRGINIA 34 (20 1/2), Bowling Green 24 _ No way WVU covers the 20 1/2 against a team that can score like the Faclons.
TENNESSEE 35 (29), Buffalo 7 _ The number seems a little high to me. Buffalo has a decent defense and should barely cover the high number.
EASTERN MICHIGAN 17 (9), Akron 14 _ If Akron has a chance to win a game, this is it. I believe the Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, will keep them in this one.
Cincinnati 29 (13 1/2), MIAMI (Ohio) 13 _ Big rivalry game, bigger difference in the talent.
OHIO 40 (15 1/2) Kent State 15 _ Bobcats both cover the number and the over/under of 47 1/2.
Northern Illinois 30 (9 1/2), CENTRAL MICHIGAN 17 _ Huskies have the ability to put up points in bunches. Chips don't.
OKLAHOMA 45 (37 1/2), Ball State 10 _ I know Oklahoma is No. 1 but 37 1/2 is too much to give up.
We will go out of the MAC for this week's upset special. Syracuse is a 3-point favorite at home against Rutgers. Scarlet Knights will win this one by 10, unless the Big East refs miss three good field goals. Rutgers, 24-14.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Philly Pro $ports Media

Listen to the answer at the 5:19 mark. Do you love this guy or what?

Not a good day for the old Chevy Cavalier on Tuesday.
Went jogging for a couple of hours then, just as the sun was setting, I turned the ignition over and nothing happened.
I got the car towed to Pep Boys, sat in there for an hour and the guy came up to me and said: "Sorry I won't be able to get to it tonight. It looks like a fuel pump. I don't have enough mechanics."
So I had to take the 96 bus from Montgomery Mall to the Lansdale train station, get off at the Jenkintown train station to hop another train to Somerton and the 58 bus home.
While at Pep Boys, though, I was able to read up on the coverage the Temple Owls received in The Daily News the past couple of days.
It took me all of seven minutes to read one story, only part of it was devoted to Temple's 38-7 win at Maryland.
As impressed as I was with the Owls on Saturday, that's how unimpressed I was with the Daily News over the last two days.
Let's start with Monday first.
The theme of Mike Kern's story was not to praise Temple, but bury Maryland. He even put Maryland into his "Fraud Five." Why? For losing to Temple? That is a not well-disguised rip at Temple.

Temple was coming off the biggest BCS win possibly in its non-BCS history and both the back and the front covers had full-page Eagles' photos.
Sixteen (that's right, 16) more pages of Eagles followed, then a page devoted to the Jets-Raiders and the "NFC East this week" followed by another page of "around the league"  and two more pages of "NFL scoreboard", three Phillies pages, a page devoted to an NBA pickup game and another page for the Flyers.
Finally, I find Temple on page 67 and that's twenty-nine (right, 29) pages into the sports section.
The theme of Mike Kern's story was not to praise Temple, but bury Maryland. He even put Maryland into his "Fraud Five."
The Inquirer's Keith Pompey has done a fantastic job. Last year, Kevin Tatum wrote one short story on each Temple game and used the quotes handed out on printed sheets by the SID. Pompey busted his stones and wrote three outstanding stories on the win over Maryland.

For losing to Temple? That is a not well-disguised rip at Temple. If Kern felt Temple was good, there was no reason to put Maryland in the Fraud Five. He provided no real good explanation for the rip.
How is Maryland not a fraud for beating Miami (Fla.) and a fraud for losing to Temple?
It's not like Maryland was beaten by a bad team. What Temple is Kern going by, the Temple of 30 years ago?
He certainly is not going by the Temple that is 16-0 when Bernard Pierce gets the ball 18 or more times a game. Or maybe he just doesn't know that fact.
Tuesday's DN was worse.
Four pages of Eagles' coverage was followed by four pages of Phillies coverage.
Another page was devoted to college basketball and the next page was high school football.
Not a single word about the Temple Owls.
I can see the interest in the Eagles, but it has become ad naseum.
An Eagle sneezes at the Nova Care Center and Comcast reports on it and hands the guy a tissue.
Sports talk radio is even worse.
Thank God for the great coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer, with a front-page of the paper photo followed by the lede story and photo on the cover of the sports section Sunday as well.
The Inquirer's Keith Pompey has done a fantastic job. Last year, Kevin Tatum wrote one short story on each Temple game and used the quotes handed out on printed sheets by the SID.
Pompey busted his stones and wrote three outstanding stories on the win over Maryland.
The Daily News, when it comes to Temple, is no better than fish rap.
The DN has, like my car, a broken story pump when it comes to providing even a smidgen of fairness in its coverage.
It's not worth the dollar.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We've come a long way, baby

Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw hugs Steve Addazio for doing something Al Golden could not do: Beat Maryland.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. _ A very wise person once said that for a good perspective, just open your eyes and take a look at what is happening around you.
All TU fans are
going in Heaven
right now

A few years ago, I wrote this story that appeared in The Philadelphia Daily News about all Temple football fans going to Heaven. Heck, I don't know what Heaven is like but if it's anything like Byrd Stadium was today, it must be a pretty good place.
I thought a lot about that today while watching my friend, Matt Cohen, take a shot of the scoreboard in the closing seconds of Temple's 38-7 win at Maryland's beautiful Byrd Stadium.
I remember when Matt, his brother, I and a handful of other Temple die-hards sat in Veterans Stadium and then Lincoln Financial Field watching some God-awful Temple teams, including Bobby Wallace squads of 0-11 and 1-11.
I remember many of those same faces tailgating in the rain before the final game of that 0-11 season, a 41-14 loss to the Fake Miami (that's Ohio).
"You watch," I told the handful of people left in the empty parking lot. "One day there will be a guy who leads us out of this mess."
I saw many of those same faces in Section B at Byrd Stadium today.
They believed.

Statement by Steve Addazio:
"What you're asking me is where is our football team at? I'll tell you where we're at right now. I'm really proud of this right now. I'm proud of the city we play in. We play in one of the greatest sports cities there is in America. We play in one of the best venues in the Linc in the country. We play a non-conference schedule - Maryland, Penn State, Notre Dame coming to town. We do that right now.

"We had 57,000 fans for our game against Penn State, over 40,000 Temple fans, last week and 12,000 Temple students. Two weeks before, against a I-AA opponent Villanova, we had over 30,000 fans to their 2,000 - 8,500 Temple students - and the atmosphere at Lincoln Financial was electric.

"Temple, now, guys and gals, has got 12,000 students going to 15,000. Everybody talks about back days, I don't know why. Back days it was a commuter school. We have a $10 million football facility going on at our place and we're a proud academic institution, one of the higher ranked ones in the country. If you're asking me where's our program, we're doing it right now. We have attendance. Our TV numbers were higher than they were in Big Ten.

"I'm not a guy that's much for B.S. I'm a guy based on facts and what is. What is is we're a hard-playing team, we took a BCS win today. We went nose-to-nose with a BCS team last week. We have a great home-field crowd right now and Philadelphia has passion for college football like it never has before and we're in the fourth-largest media market in the country, so what that means is not my concern."
It was not a baseless belief.
"It happened before," I said back then, telling them there was once a savior named Wayne Hardin. "It can happen again."
That new savior was Al Golden.
His good looks, dogged personality and impeccable organizational skills led Temple out of these hedgerows. He was able to charm moms into sending their talented sons to play at Temple.
Now Steve Addazio and his SEC staff is leading a General Patton-like charge to bigger and better things.

 Golden wasn't perfect.
He was a micromanger who did not trust his coordinators to formulate a winning game plan because his coordinators were, quite frankly, buddies from his college days.
Addazio hired two of the best coordinators out there, Chuck Heater for the defense and Scot Loeffler for the offense, and is letting those guys do their job.
That's the way a good CEO runs any organization. Hire the best possible people for upper-level management positions and let them do their jobs.

Chuck Heater was defensive coordinator at 12-0 Utah. His work as defensive coordinator at Florida was so impressive that, last year, no less an authority than Urban Meyer said: "I call Chuck Heater Mother Theresa because he's worked wonders with our defense."
Scot Loeffler was quarterback coach at Michigan when Tom Brady was there and quarterback coach of Tim Tebow at Florida.
Both those guys know their stuff.
It has shown so far.

Photo by Matt Cohen

Heater plays an attacking-style defense, believing, as I always have, the best pass defense is putting a quarterback on his backside. Maryland's talented quarterback, Danny O'Brien, did not have room to breathe, let alone look for receivers.
Loeffler establishes the run behind one of the great running backs in college football and plays off his skills by keeping the defense honest with play-action waggle passes to an All-MAC first-team tight end and an occasional shot down the field, again off play-action.
This is a team that will not be outcoached.
The results, then, should not be surprising.
Temple is two minutes away from being 4-0 with wins over an upper-tier Big 10 team and a solid ACC team. If you don't think Maryland is solid, the Terrapins beat The Real Miami, 32-24. The Real Miami beat Ohio State, 24-6.
That's solid.
So is Temple.
The Owls have what I believe is the best running back in the United States in Bernard Pierce. All Bernard did was carry the ball 32 times for 149 yards and a school-record five touchdowns. Bernard leads the nation in touchdowns.
I wrote before the season that 20 touchdowns and 2,000 yards are attainable goals for BP and he has made me look good so far.
Temple did something today it never has before: Both beat Maryland and beat an ACC team.
From the perspective of looking at this team and their fans, it's just a starting point.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Steve Addazio vs. Al Golden

Al Golden's first Miami press conference lasted 49 minutes, during which he never uttered the word "Temple" once.

TU Fact 1:
Temple has seven wins
over schools currently
in the ACC; none while
they were in the ACC
If you make the trip with me to Maryland tomorrow, you will notice the game program says: Temple vs. Maryland.
Very true.
The subtitle, though, should say Steve Addazio vs. Al Golden.
We really don't know if Steve Addazio is a better coach than Al Golden right now.
TU fact No. 2
Temple is 15-0
with Bernard Pierce
getting 16 carries
or more
However, we could all get a much better handle on that come 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.
Bum Phillips, the colorful former coach of the then Houston Oilers, once said:
"The sign of a great coach is that he can take your 'ums and beat his 'ums and he can beat his 'ums with your 'ums."
Steve Addazio has a chance to prove that against Maryland.
If Al Golden, with arguably better talent than Temple, can't beat Maryland with his Miami group and Steve Addazio CAN beat Maryland with, err, lesser talent that could go a long way toward proving once and for all that Steve Addazio is the better game coach than Al Golden.
If not prove conclusively, than it would be a pretty good Exhibit A in any case to be made for Daz vs. Golden.
Many of the Daz fans, me included, were duly impressed with Addazio doing to Villanova what Golden was not able to do _ blow them out. Yet that body of work can be argued to be inconclusive since Villanova was in a rebuilding year.
Add a win over Maryland with a blowout of Villanova and you can make an argument that this is an open-and-shut case.
It might even cause one set of eyebrows at The U to be raised.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Penn State fans and over-reaction

Proof positive that Temple fans outnumbered PSU fans on Saturday.

There must be a severe disconnect between Penn State fans and Penn State players.
To read the reaction on web sites like "Blue White Illustrated" and "Black Shoe Diaries" beating Temple "only by 14-10" was pretty darn close to the Apocalypse coming to State College.
Almost no one gave Temple any credit for being a good team.
Almost everyone says this means Penn State is no good.
Twenty-five years of building a ram shack house that was once the Temple program destroyed the brand name and it is going to take more than two years of winning for a home makeover.
Still, if you watch college football these days, teams that don't have "brand names" are beating teams with brand names.

Photos by friend of TFF, Tony Alessi
Someday, maybe Saturday at Maryland, that will happen for Temple.
It could possibly be Temple's last chance this year. If Temple doesn't beat Maryland and run the table, even if it wins the MAC, it is likely to be in a bowl game with another "brand less" team, say Troy. An 11-1 mark is probably enough to break Temple out of MAC bowl hell and into some kind of Heavenly bowl. An 11-1 record with Maryland winning the ACC and Penn State winning the Big 10 and that bowl becomes even more attractive.
An 11-1 mark is probably enough to break Temple out of MAC bowl hell and into some kind of Heavenly bowl
Penn State fans are over-reacting, just like UConn fans over-reacted after losing to Temple last year.
All you read on the Uconn message boards were "we won't win another game" and "I can't believe we lost to Temple" yet UConn went on to beat Pitt and West Virginia and win the Big East after that.
In a story about Kevin Kroboth by Brad Wilson in the Easton Express-Times on Sunday one of the comments below said: "Temple is much improved, but shows Penn Sate is going downhill."
Temple football fact:
Owls are 15-0 when Bernard Pierce
gets 16 or more carries

That kind of thought process is really disrespectful to Temple's kids.
Penn State's kids know better. "We beat a great football team," Rob Bolden said. Mike Mauti, who is a great player, said: "To come back and beat a team this good and we knew they were good coming in is a sign of what team we can be." (Ironically, Mike Mauti is Rich Mauti's kid and Rich Mauti beat Temple with a punt return in the final minute of PSU's 26-25 win at Temple in 1975.)
When you are out there knocking heads, you know a lot more about the program you are playing and the kids on the other side of the ball that some fan on a message board.
Al Golden recruited well and got a lot of three- and four-star recruits. His good looks and dogged personality opened a lot of doors for Temple that previously had been closed. That kind of talent showed enough to stay with PSU.
PSU will be fine, as UConn was fine after running into Temple.
PSU is going to beat Eastern Michigan, 44-7, or thereabouts. You can write that score down now. It won't be anywhere near 14-10.
Temple will be fine if it can somehow rebound from this psychological devastation and get a signature win at Maryland this Saturday.
Maybe both PSU and Temple fans will feel a lot better at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
For the sake of the two best college football teams in Pennsylvania, I hope so.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MAC Blogger Roundtable: Week 4

This week's host of the MAC Blogger Roundtable's questions and answers  are below:

Here's something I wonder a lot. Everyone knows about home court advantage in basketball. Over the past 5 years, in MAC conference games, 66% of the men's hoops games have been won by the home team. In football, the number is normally in the mid 50s, or pretty even. People still talk about home field advantage? What do you think? How big is it?
Depends. It was a pretty big deal for Temple last week vs. Penn State. Over the last 30 years or so, Temple's games in Philadelphia seemed like home games for the Nittany Lions. Due to a number of factors, like increased ticket prices and Temple's resurgence, PSU did not travel as well this time and Temple had a representative crowd. Game drew 57K, of which 32K or so were estimated as Temple fans. Looked good on ESPN national TV to see a see of Cherry on both sides of the field. Despite that homefield advantage, Temple could not close the deal on PSU. I have a feeling, though, both teams will win at least eight games this year.

The MAC has started to run advertisements in games touting the conference's integrity, saying that the league is "showing the way." What do you think of this approach? Playing on a great thing in our conference, or asking for trouble?
Money talks, integrity walks. I think the league is probably better off not talking about that now.
The MAC has been working pretty hard to step up its digital game of late, with a mobile app and more video content. What grade do you give the MAC for its online presence and why?
I don't watch too much online video so I have to bow out of this question.
So far, the MAC has only 1 win over BCS opposition and a handful of FBS wins, but a few close calls in big games. How satisfied are you with the MAC"s out of conference performance?
No. You've got to close the deal to change perceptions. Temple should have closed the deal vs. PSU. Northern Illinois should have closed the deal at Kansas. Toledo should have closed the deal vs. Ohio State. Temple's got one more chance before conference play to do it and that's at Maryland.
Rank ;em.




Northern Illinois

Bowling Green

Western Michigan


Ball State


Eastern Michigan



Week 4 Predictions:
After a hot start for Temple Football Forever, last week was a pretty bad week. We went 5-4 straight up and 4-5 against the spread. We picked Temple to beat Penn State, which was a loss straight up but a point-spread win. We picked Ball State to beat Buffalo, which was a straight-up win but a point-spread loss. (BSU was favored by 4 1/2 and only beat Buffalo by 28-25.) Week pretty much went like that across the board.
Here's this week's picks (home teams are underlined):
UPSET SPECIAL _ Toledo 24, Syracuse 14. 'Cuse "only" beat Rhode Island, 21-14. How is 'Cuse a 2 1/2-point favorite? Rockets win and cover.
UPSET SPECIAL No. 2 _ Ohio 26, Rutgers 20. RU is a five-point favorite. Ohio is the better-coached team by far.
Penn State 44, Eastern Michigan 7 _ PSU easily covers the 29-point spread and their fans exhale.
Maryland 24, Temple 13 _ It's hard to bounce back psychologically from spilling your guts out on the field and just missing out on a program-defining win against Penn State. I don't see Temple playing as hard and I just don't like the spread offense with Temple's current personnel. Unless Bernard Pierce carries the ball 45 times this game, the Owls come up short of the 10-point spread here. This is one game where I hope I'm wrong but I don't like the quarterback mismatch here and that's the most important position on the field.
UPSET SPECIAL No. 3 _ Bowling Green 24, Miami (Ohio) 20 _ The  six-point underdog Falcons rebound from a heartbreaking one-point loss to Wyoming.
Army 31, Ball State 24 _ Army, a 3 1/2-point favorite, rides the momentum of a win over Northwestern to cover.
UConn 31, Buffalo 17 _ Huskies show the Bulls that they are not to be confused with Stony Brook and easily cover the 10-point spread.
Season straight up: 19-8
Season against the spread: 16-7

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Owls get to the top of Mt. Nittany ... and slip

PHILADELPHIA _ The Temple football team climbed to the top of the Mountain, peaked over the top to see The Promised Land for a second and slipped back down with two minutes left on Saturday.
For all but the final two minutes of the game, Temple, without much help from its offense, led Penn State.
Then Penn State scored a 14-10 win.
To me, that lack of offensive help is the most disappointing thing.
A team that has Bernard Pierce, Mike Gerardi, Joey Jones, Evan Rodriguez, Rod Streater, Matty Brown, Alex Jackson and Deon Miller should not be struggling to put points on the board, no matter who the opponent.
A team that has a 6-5, 320-pound offensive line, should be able to get a push from time to time and protect the quarterback with regularity, no matter who the opponent.
A team that has Bernard Pierce, Mike Gerardi, Joey Jones, Evan Rodriguez, Rod Streater, Matty Brown, Alex Jackson and Deon Miller should not be struggling to put points on the board, no matter who the opponent

Head coach Steve Addazio is not clairvoyant, but when asked before the game what was the key, he said: "We can't turn the ball over and we have to get the game into the fourth quarter."
"Temple didn't play Temple football today. We got beat in the end and put the ball on the ground."
_ Steve Addazio

A simple request and the Owls got the game into the fourth quarter, but they did what Daz said they could not afford to do _ turn the ball over.
I thought the Owls got away from establishing Bernard Pierce, who had only four carries in the second half. I don't care if they were stacking the box, you've got to feed him the rock and hope he busts through the line just once. My guess is that the PIAA state 100-meter dash champion might not have been caught.
When you have an NFL running back, like Pierce, you've got to feed him the rock and get him into a rhythm.
I've always said Pierce was a "rhythm" back, meaning he'd go with carries of 1, 1, 2, 3, 2 an then break a 68-yarder. That's how he got 179 yards and three touchdowns in the 30-16 win over Fiesta Bowl-bound UConn.
Temple got away from Pierce too soon, but that's my humble opinion. I've watched the kid for three years now and I know how he can best be effective.
Whatever, it was a heartbreaking day.
I had hoped to live to see the day when Temple beat Penn State.
I thought today was going to be that day.
It will happen, though.
As a great man once said, "I might not get to the Mountaintop with you but we will get to the Promised Land."
Hopefully, I will get there with you.
Notes: Aside to KYW radio's Tom Maloney: When the station sends you to cover the game, don't tell me what I already know. I was stuck in traffic for three hours and all you told me was Temple scored on the first drive and Penn State scored in the final minute to win. Err, I knew that. Get off your fat, lazy, ass and go into the interview room and me some sound from Steve Addazio and Joe Paterno. Just a thought. Three hours in traffic and listening to the same AP story was getting a little old. ... I thought the crowd was 50/50 but the noise was 80/20, Temple. ... Great job by the defense, especially Kee-Ayre Griffin and Adrian Robinson and the interior front wall of Levi Brown and Kadeem Custis. I have a feeling this group is going to pitch a few shutouts in the MAC. ... A team with two quarterbacks really has none. I hope Daz looks at what happened in the first three games and not on the practice field and settles on one guy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

PSU: Temple's biggest game ever

The field is ready and the nation will be watching the Owls on Saturday.
Let's face it.
No matter what happens this year, Penn State is probably going to go to some nice, warm-weather, bowl game.
"We had over 30,000 some Temple fans for our game against Villanova, including 10,000 students. I don't know how many Temple fans we will have Saturday, but it certainly won't be any less than that.'
_ Steve Addazio
The best Temple can hope for, even if it jumps over the two or three teams ranked ahead of it (Toledo, Northern Illinois and maybe Ohio) and wins the MAC is Detroit.
Or Boise.
Or, in the best-case scenario, Mobile, Ala.
That's life in the MAC these days.
On Saturday, Temple plays Penn State in the national (not regional) game on ESPN.
The Owls will be playing in their own hometown in front of roughly a split crowd (which is an improvement on all other Penn State games of my lifetime, with the exception of the 1975 game at Franklin Field).
"We had over 30-thousand some Temple fans for our game against Villanova, including 10,000 students," Temple head coach Steve Addazio said. "I don't know how many Temple fans we will have Saturday, but it certainly won't be any less than that."
Temple won't be in a better bowl game this season unless it beats Penn State, Maryland and Toledo in a row and then finishes the season by running the table.
The bowl game in Washington D.C. in a half-empty and freezing RFK was nice, but it is not this.
A win over a 6-5 Cal team in the Garden State Bowl was nice, but it was not this.
Seventy-thousand people and a national TV audience is a chance for this program to make its mark nationally.
Maybe its only chance.
This time, a win is well within the realm of reality.
Temple beat UConn by two touchdowns last year and UConn found itself in the Fiesta Bowl.
Two years ago, without a quarterback, Temple handed a 10-2 Navy team a 28-24 loss on the road. That Navy team beat Missouri, 35-14, in its bowl game.
So it's not as if this program hasn't done some impressive things in the last two years.
Temple won eight games last year and nine games the year before and just about every Temple fan will tell you that this team is better than those two teams.
This is a chance for the Owls to show it on the biggest stage and in front of the most people who will ever watch them play.
A lot of kids play football their whole lives and never get a chance like this. These Owls are only a few hours away from getting their shot.

Monday, September 12, 2011

MAC Blogger Roundtable: Week 3

This week's host is Mike Trumbell of The Chip Report, a Central Michigan blog.
We'll get right into the questions and my answers:

1) This week featured some out of conference games in which MAC schools had some strong showings but were unable to finish. Do these close calls do it for you or do these teams need to complete the upset to earn conference respect?

TFF: They need to complete the upset.

2) What Senior is really standing out as a pro prospect?

TFF: Adrian Robinson, rush endy. Will follow Muhammad Wilkerson or Jacquaiwn Jarrett as a first- or second-round NFL draft pick from the defensive side of the ball.

3) With CMU traveling to Kalamazoo to take on the Broncos this weekend I thought it fitting to ask, which MAC rivalry is most heated and why?

TFF: Kent and Akron used to be. I'm thinking CMU an WMU now. If Akon an Kent were ever 1-2, that would be it.

4) Which bottom feeder from last season has looked most improved?

TFF: Eastern Michigan. I know the sked is not OSU's, buit they are impressive. A lot is working against them, but Ron English is doing a much better job this year.

5) List your MAC power rankings


2) Northern Illinois

3) Temple

4) Ohio

5) Bowling Green
6) WMU
7) CMU
8) Ball State
9) Miami
10) Kent State
11) Eastern Michigan
12) Buffalo
13) Akron
Temple Football Forever's picks this week:
(odds are from the New York Daily News, HOME team in CAPS)
Boise State 31, TOLEDO 20 _ Rockets easily cover the 17 1/2.
CINCINNATI 41, Akron 3 _ Bearcats cover the 30-point spread.
BOWLING GREEN 35, Wyoming 21 _ Falcons have no problem covering the 8 1/2.
TEMPLE 24, Penn State 20 _ Owls shock the world, but not their own fans who watched as they beat Fiesta Bowl-bound UConn by two scores last year. Temple is anywhere between a 9 1/2 to 8-point underdog.
Central Michigan 14,  WESTERN MICHIGAN 7 _ Anything can happen in a rivalry game and I'm picking 6 1/2-point underdog Chips to win this one outright.
Miami 10, MINNESOTA 7 _ MAC champ, a 3-point underdog, pulls off the 3-point upset win on the road.
OHIO U. 24, Marshall 17 _ Bobcats might be Frank Solich's best team and the 2-point spread seems small to me.
BALL STATE 17, Buffalo 10 _ Cards beat Indiana and Buffalo isn't as good as Indiana. They cover the 4 1/2.
Season record straight up: 14-4
Season record against spread: 12-2
(A lot of MAC games have appeared with no lines and those are included in the straight-up record.)
Our only loss against the spread last week was USF covering the 22 against Ball State.
We correctly predicted a straight up and against the spread upset when we picked Louisiana Lafayette, a 6  1/2-point dog, to beat Kent State, 24-20. LL won, 20-12.

Temple vs. PSU: Already a Buzz

There's a buzz about Temple vs. Penn State this year that I don't ever remember in my Temple vs. Penn State lifetime and that's half of Joe Paterno's years.
I really feel the stars are perfectly aligned for a Temple win over Penn State this time.
I've never felt this strongly before.

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson.
We'll go into those details later in the week but suffice it to say that Temple has a healthy NFL first-round draft pick and a stone-cold stud carrying the ball (Penn State doesn't), Temple has a defensive coordinator who was 12-0 as a DC on a BCS bowl team (Penn State doesn't), Temple has a relatively youthful head coach who is a master motivator (and Penn State doesn't) and Temple has an offensive coordinator who developed Tom Brady and Tim Tebow (and Penn State doesn't).
Apparently, the Buzz extends to people named Buzz.
Not just any Buzz, mind you, the most famous person in the world named Buzz, Pulitizer Prize winning author Buzz Bissinger who correctly predicts a Temple victory over Penn State here. You've got to figure someone who writes about football with that kind of insight and lives in Pennsylvania knows a little about the state  of the two programs at this time.
Temple also has a massive offensive line that averages 6-5, 320 (and PSU doesn't) and a Big 33 MVP (Adrian Robinson) and Penn State does not.
What will Temple have on Saturday that Penn State doesn't have?
A win that day, 24-20.
The stars are perfectly aligned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The view from Akron

TU fans could go head over heels
for Ahkeem Smith (24) and Kamel
Johnson (93).
Going into this game, I thought Temple would beat Akron, 38-7.
I was wrong.
It was 41-3 and it could have been much worse.
I thought to myself at the end of the first half that it would be nice if Temple head coach Steve Addazio rested Bernard Pierce for the entire second half, saving him for the Penn State game.
What'ya know?
Daz did just that.
Had Pierce played the second half, I had no doubt the final score would be 60-6 (if Akron was lucky).
Don't get me wrong.
Matty Brown played well in relief, but he's not a first-round NFL draft pick.
"DatBoy Nard" is a first-round NFL draft pick.
I believe it with every fiber of my being.
Mike Gerardi played OK, but he missed more throws than he did last week against Villanova.
No sense of urgency, though, and I think Gerardi is the kind of gamer who brings the play action when he needs it.
The defense and special teams played well.
Joey Jones should be first-team WR.
Right now, I think Temple is probably in the best position to beat Penn State since the Wayne Hardin years.
I don't think Penn State can stop Bernard Pierce for four quarters. If Bernard Pierce plays four quarters, Penn State is going down.

Will the Owls get that done?
That's the question.
I don't think Penn State can stop Bernard Pierce for four quarters.
If Bernard Pierce plays four quarters, Penn State is going down.
For the first time since Hardin, I believe Temple has the better coaching staff from head on down to the graduate assistants.
Does Penn State have better talent?
Talent doesn't always win.
It's up to the 30K Temple fans who will be there to outcheer the 40K Penn State fans who will be there.
I saw a lot of people sitting on their hands against Villanova.
If that happens, Penn State will win.
If Temple gets the crowd behind it and the coaching differential plus the fans give the Owls a push, I think the Owls can win.
Can, should and would are all different stories, though.
Whatever seats are left, Temple fans should do their best to buy them up and then vow to become part of the team on Saturday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

MAC blogger roundtable: Week 2

It's not even one-tenth into the Mid-American Conference season and, so far, all indicatons are that this is going to be a very good year.
Last year, New Hampshire beat Ball State on the road.
This year, Toledo hammered New Hampshire, 58-22, at home and Ball State beat rival Indiana.

Last year, Temple and Villanova were tooth and nail until the final seconds.
This year, Temple built a 42-0 lead and won, 42-7.
Eastern Michigan won and Western Michigan played well at The Big House.
Ohio scored 44 points with a win in New Mexico.
Miami played Missouri tough.
If this trend continues, that can be only good for MAC fans.
This week, it was my turn to host the MAC Blogger Roundtable.
What follows is five questions and we'll pick the responses of Bull Run's Tim Riordan (because he answered first) here, followed by the other MAC bloggers' responses listed below.

My questions, followed by Tim's answers and then followed by links to the answers from the other MAC bloggers. It's the middle of the night Friday morning, so I'm posting the responses I've received to this point while watching the all-night coverage of the disastrous flooding in Eastern Pennsylvania on the local tube.
TFF: 9-1 against the spread
TFF was 9-1 against the spread in Week 1 and 8-2 straight up.
Our only loss against the spread was Missouri's 17-6 win over Miami (we had Missouri cover the 17). We also picked the Ball State upset of Indiana against the spread, but not straight up.
We realize we set a high standard, but we're going after it in Week 2.
Our picks:
Temple 38, Akron 7 _ Owls easily cover the 14 despite the fact that Akron doesn't wear Villanova across the chests.
Western Michigan 43, Nicholls State 12 (no line, so no comment).
Ohio 44, Gardner-Webb 7 _ Gardner-Freakin'-Webb beat Arkon by a point last year. It will find out that Ohio is not Akron fast (NL).
Bowling Green 35, Morgan State 7 (no line).
Ball State 21, University of South Florida 20 (in a ballsy move, I'm going for an upset of the minus 23 line and a straight up win for the David Lettermans).
Lousiania Lafeyette 24, Kent State 20 _ even though KSU is a 6 1/2-point favorite in this oone, I'm going with LL both straight up and against the spread.
Ohio State 23, Toledo 17 _ The spread of 22 in this game is way too high. Easier money was never made.
Buffalo 31, Stony Brook 0 (NL) _ Stony Brook? Stony Brook? Are you serious, Buffalo?
Northern Illinois 21, Kansas 7 _ The class of the MAC so far handles a middle-of-the-road BCS team and covers the 7.
Season record: 8-2
Against the spread: 9-1

1) What was the most surprising result of the week and why?

BSU Beating Indiana:

I feel a bit dirty for calling out a Ball State game as the highlight but there it is. A win over an instate Big-10 Member something a lot of MAC teams would sell their mother for. Even if it is only Indiana!

I still think the cards may be in Bottom half of the west at but it shows how good the west is this season. This was a great emotional win for the program and could move them towards a 6+ win season. Ball State ran the ball down the Hosiers throats a lot of MAC teams will ahve to take notice of that.

2) What was the most expected result of the week and why?

NIU Beating up on Army:

The six point spread Vegas was giving to that game shows how ridiculously out of touch people are when it comes to the Huskies and the Mid American conference in general. NIU Returns so much talent but all people unfamiliar with the program see is the loss of Spann.

He may have been a big loss but last years Offensive player of the year had an amazing a line that could propel even an old fat guy like me to 3 or more yards per carry. There is real reason to think that the Huskies can give Wisconsin a run for the money this season, maybe they won't have enough to close it but it should be one heck of a game.

3) Are you satisfied with the quality of reception and reliability of the current MAC online TV access of its games?

No! ESPN3 is not television coverage no matter how you brand it. I'm fine with it being used and the exposure on the weekends when everyone's plate is full but when the mid week games roll around having them on the Tres is a slap in the face. Somehow we went from weeknight games on national TV to "Boy I hope we are on ESPN3 this week"

The announcers also tend to act like they drew the short straw. During the UB game the announcers were awful, they could have hired a fan from each school and gotten more things right. Factual errors, calling players the wrong name, and the overuse of old football sayings to cover up blatant ignorance.

4) Does Week 1 indicate that this is going to be the best year overall in the MAC in the last few or is that too soon?

I think so, no team gave away a game they should have won and the teams that did lose all made a decent showing for themselves. This is the first year in a long time with no inexplicable week one losses. No close calls, and no upsets by an FCS team.

This may be the best year since before Temple joined the conference. I expect Temple and Northern Illinois to flirt with the top 25 at some point this year. Toledo and OU have an outside shot if they run the table in conference.

5) Rank 'em, FIRST to worst:

# Team Change Comment

1 NIU - Many had this as a "Close" Game (Don't ask me why). NIU should have fewer doubters this week after destroying the Black Knights

2 Toledo - Great showing by Toledo, UNH is a decent program and the Rockets punished them all game long. The score was far less lopsided then the game.

3 Temple 2 Nova is no longer one of the best teams in the FCS, but the Owls looked great and have a coach who knows how to use Pierce to set up the pass.

4 Ohio - Solid win over a team they should have beaten. The fact it's on the road and at a pretty good elevation has them hold their spot

5 Miami -2 They have a huge number of very real chances to beat a ranked team but made too many mistakes in the first half. Still they walk away with a D that held Missouri to just 17 points.

6 WMU - A missed FG nad a red zone pick in the first half ended what was an impressive showing

7 BSU 3 IU is a low quality AQ team but they are an AQ Team

8 BGSU 1 Nice win but Idaho's starting lineup belongs in a MASH unit right now

9 CMU -2 Yes they played a very good FCS team but they still should have played better on offense.

10 Kent -2 Not so much because they lost but because BSU and Bowling Green looked good. Kent played Alabama about as tight as any MAC school would.

11 EMU - Looked a bit hairy for EMU but they got it together and took down a lesser foe.

12 Buffalo - Definitely signs of life but still too much sloppy play. Dropped passes and a bad pick kept UB from really pushing the Panthers late.

13 Akron - Given some of the folks out at OSU I thought they would at least score a field goal

Around the league (we've only gotten a total of four responses, so we'll add more by later Friday):
Bowling Green:
Bowling Green
Eastern Michigan:
Eastern Michigan

Monday, September 5, 2011

MAC haters and Temple

I don't see Temple taking a step back in this video at all.
When I listen to an opinion, I usually consider the source and break it down into three levels of credibility:
Those who know a lot.
Those who know a little.
Those who know nothing.
You can put practically the entire MAC into the second and third category when talking about Temple University's football team.
The notion that "Temple will take a step back without Al Golden" is widely regarded as gospel in the MAC community. Temple fans know a different reality.
Of the 14 MAC websites, including numerous blogs, only eight people picked Temple to beat Villanova and most of those who picked the Owls said it would be a "tight game."
One of the guys  said "since Temple lost a ton of talent on defense" and "had a new system" that the Owls would lose to Villanova.
I chalk this up to MAC haters. More specifically, Temple haters in the MAC.
Temple did lose some talent, but not a "ton" and the Owls returned nine of 11 guys who started AT LEAST ONE GAME on defense last year. One of the guys who started three games as a DE, promising left end Sean Daniels, is now a backup. Not due to any fault of his own but because Temple moved tight end Morkeith Brown, a born leader, to the DE slot. Temple's defensive line is bigger, stronger, deeper and faster overall despite losing a first-round draft pick.
 Another returner, Steven Johnson, beat out one of the guys who went into an NFL camp for a cup of coffee at middle linebacker.
 New system?
Yeah, a new and improved system that does something the other system did not do, especially on offense _ put the Owls' explosive players into the best position to explode. That is, establish the run with first-round NFL pick Bernard Pierce behind a massive offensive line (averaging 6-5, 320, the Eagles just wish they had that size) and then throwing play-action to talented receivers and tight ends.
The notion that "Temple will take a step back without Al Golden" is widely regarded as gospel in the MAC community. Temple fans know a different reality.
Did anyone notice that "Saint Al Golden" fielded a Miami team that committed nine penalties, including a false start and two illegal substitutions in a 32-24 loss at Maryland tonight? Does it sound familiar?
I thought so.
Look, one thing Al Golden did was bring in a ton of talent and it is still here but I maintain it's coached better now. Al was a charismatic guy who was universally loved by mothers whose sons he recruited.

Good seats still available for PSU, but not for long.

On game day, not so much loved by Temple fans who remembered Wayne Hardin's genius for those three hours of the week.
There's an upgrade of talent on both offense and defense, but that's something the MAC will start to learn the hard way on Saturday night at Akron.
For the record, I predicted on this website that the final score of the Villanova game would be 35-14 and on as 41-7.

My reasoning was that I saw this as an epic beatdown somewhere between that conservative 35-14 estimate and a possible 55-3 outcome.
That's pretty much how it played out.
For Akron, I don't expect a 42-7 beatdown because the word Akron doesn't whip Temple players into a frenzy of hate that the word Villanova does.
So I will revert to the more conservative prediction of 35-14 and think that might drop to around 31-10, but no lower.
The season began last week, but breaking down perceptions around the league won't start until Saturday night.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's not to like about these Owligators?

Mike Edwards' great photo captures Daz smiling ear to ear after his shower.

Watching that big smile on Steve Addazio's face after being dumped with Gatorade told the whole story of last night's 42-7 destruction of Villanova.
Gator Aid has arrived at Temple and it's a pretty tasty drink.
All the key upper management in this program held key upper management jobs at the University of Florida.
Steve Addazio was Florida's head coach for awhile (most people don't remember that). Chuck Heater was defensive coordinator (officially, co-defensive coordinator but that was in name only). Scot Loeffler was the quarterbacks coach.
All showed their stuff impressively on Thursday night.
Addazio's motivational skills + Loeffler's play-calling + Heater's fire-eaters = sky's the limit

This is what an SEC staff can do to a 1AA staff, albeit probably the best 1AA staff out there.
This is what an SEC staff can do to the rest of the MAC.

Dare I say, this is what an SEC staff can do to a nearly 90-year-old head coach in a couple of weeks.
As I said in an earlier post, let's go to the blackboard for Temple's successful formula this season:
Addazio's strength is as a CEO and a motivator.
Heater has impeccable credentials as a defensive coordinator.
Loeffler developed Tom Brady and Tim Tebow.
All showed their strengths on Thursday night.

The CEO in Addazio allowed Heater to run the defense and Loeffler to run the offense.
That read belly option Ohio abused Golden with the past two years?
Well, Villanova coach Andy Talley made it a staple of the Wildcat offense last night and Heater's fire-eaters were not even fazed by it.
On offense, what have I been telling Golden and Matt Rhule for the past two years?
Establish the run behind franchise back Bernard Pierce, then use play-action off fakes to Pierce to find open receivers roaming through enemy secondaries.
Something that was so difficult for Golden to grasp Loeffler got right away.
The formula for Temple's success in 2011 is simple:
Addazio's motivational skills + Loeffler's play-calling + Heater's fire-eaters = sky's the limit.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, though.
That 90-year-old (OK, 80-something) guy is known for saying a team improves most during the season between its first and second games.
If so, Akron better watch out.
It may take a week or two or three, but this notion that "Temple will take a step back without Al Golden" will be disabused in a hurry.