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.