Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Five 7 reasons why Bernard Pierce should stay

"When I get out of here, I'm going to lay out that guy with the long hair
 from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Polamalu, and the only reason I'm going to be able
 to do that is because I stayed my full time at Temple building my body for the rigors
 of the NFL.  When I do that, you'll know it's a signal from me to you to stay in school."

Just as promised, Steve Maneri lays out Palamalu.

The subject of my favorite Temple Owl came up with one of my favorite Temple fans in the parking lot before the game last Friday.
"What is Bernard majoring in?" my friend, Chet, said.
"Nuclear physics," I shot back.
Of course I knew Bernard Pierce is majoring in the same thing I majored in at Temple University, Communications. I have that degree on my wall and it is next to my two Associated Press Best Sports Story awards and one Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher Association award for Best Feature Story.
Without the degree, I don't get a chance to get the other two items framed. Whatever little writing talent I had as a 17-year-old was harnessed into a readable style thanks to Temple profs.

Of course, I could never run the ball like Bernard Pierce can but I see a bright future for him in Communications after football and the average work lifespan of a good NFL running back is about five years.
The average work lifespan of a TV guy with a Temple degree is about 60 years longer than that.
Ask Kevin Neghandi of ESPN.
Another reason to come back: Steve Addazio tells funny jokes.

If Bernard really was majoring in nuclear physics, I'd advise him to leave.
Since it is Communications and he is thisclose to graduating, he would be a wise Owl to stay.
He's going to run into a lot of shady sports agent characters and they are going to give him a lot of advice designed to get their cut of his money a year early. My best advice (and it's free) for him is to go with the first agent who tells him it is in his best interest to stay.
Five good reasons:

Mel Kiper is much more likely
to call Bernard Pierce a No. 1 choice
next year, not this one.
 Draft status _ There are plenty of good running backs coming out including Trent Richardson (Alabama), Lamar Miller (Miami), Montee Ball (Wisconsin), Chris Polk (Washington), Cyrus Gray (Texas A & M) and LaMichael James (Oregon). I know Bernard is better than these guys. You know Bernard is better than these guys but, right now, those guys are rated higher than Bernard. That means he could go as low and third or fourth round. Next year, when he's the unquestioned best (by you, me AND Mel Kiper), he will get guaranteed first-round money and be able to start his own TV station. If he gets drafted in the second round or below, which appears likely, there is no guaranteed money, which means he is an injury away from getting cut and sitting next to me in the stands at Temple games wishing he was out there (just like Big East player of the year Walter Washington sadly did when he got bad advice from an agent and came out early in 2004).
Bernard already has a nice suit
ready for next year's Heisman ceremony.

The Heisman Trophy _ With Richardson, James and Ball graduating, Bernard has jumped over the field into the top five in next year's Heisman conversation. All the good backs will be gone. He'll be on national TV in the bowl game and every TV guy will be mentioning his name as one to watch in next year's Heisman talk. Also, he's playing Villanova next year in the first game. He should get 500 yards and six touchdowns in that game alone and that should catapult him into the top of the race. Usually, guys who get to the top early stay there at the end. If he stays, I will make it a singular mission to gather up all my Temple communications alumni buddies and get Bernard the Heisman Trophy. What a great thing it would be for him to be at the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan accepting the award that just eluded Temple's Paul Palmer in 1986. Plus, it would set him up for a good TV gig 10 years down the road.

No wonder BP has such
great vision.
The Franchise Tag _ Not Temple's, mine. For the past three years, I have been the guy yelling the loudest from the stands: "GIVE THE BALL TO THE FRANCHISE. THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. IT'S FOOTBALL!!" For some reason, I didn't do that in the Kent State game and, after all three BP touchdowns, the two teenage girls sitting in front of me turned around to me, gave me a fist bump, and said: "GIVE THE BALL TO THE FRANCHISE. THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. IT'S FOOTBALL!" I wonder where they got that from? I must've been a bad influence on those kids. If there's no Bernard Pierce next year, I got nothing. Matty Brown will do a nice job, but it won't be the same without The Franchise. Scot Loeffler, you are on your own calling plays. Could get scary.
Tesa, Wayne and Cyrus Tribue
The Mom Factor _ Watching all the moms with their sons on Friday, I thought it would be great if Tammy Pierce would be escorted onto the field by Bernard Pierce for the Senior Day ceremony next year. Tammy has been Bernard's No. 1 fan since Day One. She deserves that day in front of a packed house next year. (And it will be a packed house. Paul Palmer drew over 40,000 to crappy Veterans Stadium for his final home game.)  I met her in the concourse at the Miami game and, without knowing who she was, she said to me: "Nice to meet, you, I'm Bernard Pierce's mom." I stood there with my mouth open for about five seconds before thinking of something to say. "He's my favorite player, I love him," I said (nothing kinky, of course just like a proud adopted uncle). Tammy said, "Well, we do, too." There's a lot more people at Temple who love him than in the NFL. There is no agent out there who loves him like we do.
Ramone looks sad he came back (not!)

Lavoy: All smiles during his senior year.
Ramone Moore and Lavoy Allen _ Like Bernard Pierce, both Ramone Moore and Lavoy Allen filed paperwork with the pros to determine the level of interest. Hopefully, like Ramone and Lavoy, Bernard will make the same determination to come back. Neither guy is far away if Bernard wants to get advice. Lavoy is practicing with the Sixers. Bernard walks by Temple basketball practice on the way to class every day so he can talk to Ramone as well. Just by looking at the smiles on the faces of both guys during their senior years at Temple should be enough for Bernard to want to experience his senior year at Temple as well.

Daz finally figured out how to use Bernard Pierce best.
The Daz Factor _ Both head coach Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Loeffler finally figured out by the Army game that the best way to use Bernard Pierce was outside the tackle box, not between the hash marks. You hear the term "edge rusher" almost exclusively referring to a defensive player, but Bernard Pierce is the best edge rusher on offense I've ever seen. When Addazio stopped using Pierce between the tackles like he did at Ohio and Bowling Green, we saw the real Bernard Pierce once again. He's got the speed to beat everyone outside on sweeps and tosses. I don't think they will go back to between the tackles again. That will undoubtedly  mean bigger numbers and bigger things for a bigger and better Bernard Pierce in 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mobil 'Football Club Badges' ad, 1977

Mobil Football Club Badges, "all in the correct club colours and they're made of cloth material so you can stitch or stick them on to clothing*..."

* "We do not recommend that the badges be washed as this may have a detrimental effect."

Temple bowl foes: The unusual suspects

Expect Morkeith Brown to be in the middle of the bowl celebration again.

All of this bowl talk reminds me of the shell game on the Jumbotron at Lincoln Financial Field.
You know the one.
Three Temple helmets and guess which one the ball is under.
That's pretty much how it is today, about a week before the official selection Sunday.
Like that video game, there are too many moving parts to make a solid prediction but there are just enough moving parts to know it is a limited pool of opponents to chose from right now.
I'm pretty sure of two things. They are going to have a bowl selection party at the Liacouras Center and everybody is going to go crazy around Morkeith Brown in the center of the room.
Everything else is just speculation at this point. The real bowl is under one of six helmets.
What isn't speculation is the number of teams are mostly unusual foes for Temple football. I like that aspect of the bowl games. Reminds me of the World Series before interleague play ruined that element.
Heck, I'm excited to be playing anywhere but I'm a little more excited about certain matchups.
The speculation:
1) Rutgers vs. Temple, Birmingham Ala. BBVA Compass Bowl _ Two sites have this has the possible matchup. This is very appealing to me for three reasons: 1) Temple is underrated and 2) Rutgers is overrated and 3) It would give Temple another chance to shove it in the Big East's face. Put me down for this one. Army keeps coming up as a common foe. Rutgers beat Army, 27-13. Temple beat Army, 42-14. RU also beat Ohio at home, 38-26, while the Owls lost at Ohio. The Owls were struggling with QB issues vs. Ohio but got that ironed out by Army.
2) San Diego State vs. Temple, New Mexico Bowl _ Should be good weather for this one. The teams have one common opponent and that is Army. San Diego State beat Army, 23-20. Temple beat Army, 42-14. This appears to be more likely than the first one because it makes sense, geographically. San Diego State brings the crowd. Temple brings the East Coast TV ratings. If Temple fans want to go on the cheap, they can take scenic Route 66 out to Albuquerque. It's only a three-day ride. I'll have to thumb it because I can't afford the gas money. Both CNNSI and CBS Sportsline have this matchup.
3) Western Kentucky vs. Temple, Kraft Hunger Bowl, San Francisco _ ESPN predicted this and it makes no sense to me at all. Not because Temple is there, but because Western Kentucky is there. Western Kentucky brings nothing to the table. No fans. No TV ratings. Western Kentucky is to FBS football what Villanova is to FCS football in terms of interest and that is no interest. Temple brings a big-time East Coast TV following. It would make a lot more sense if UCLA is able to obtain a NCAA waiver and compete in this bowl at 6-7. Either UCLA or Cal vs. Temple would be a bowl rematch and a great game.
4) Florida International vs. Temple, Beef O'Brady Bowl _ Plenty of Temple fans in the Clearwater/St. Pete, Fla. area because I run into them every March at Phillies Spring Training. Probably the nicest town (go to Ybor City for night life) and the best weather. I'll take it over any venue but Birmingham. Don't like the foe because beating FIU doesn't do much to promote the Temple football brand. Both teams have one common foe: Akron. FIU beat the Zips, 27-17. Temple won, 41-3.
5) Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Temple, New Orleans Bowl _ Great town, not-so-great foe. See the note on Florida International as far as promoting the Temple brand. The teams have one common foe, Kent State. Temple beat Kent State, 34-16. Louisiana-Lafayette beat Kent State, 20-12. College Football News is reporting this matchup.
Temple fans are still thawing out from D.C. game in 2009.
6) Wake Forest vs. Temple, Military Bowl _ Affords Temple fans the short and relatively cheap Amtrak trip to Washington, D.C., just like 2009. Unlike 2009, it can't get to be that cold again in late December. Average high in Washington that week is 48. Temple drew 20,000 fans despite wind-chills below zero and a real temperature of 11 degrees above zero. Both teams have one common opponent, Maryland. Not much to chose. Temple went on the road and won at Maryland, 38-7. Wake beat Maryland at home, 31-10. This would be a nice win for Temple in front of a big homefield advantage for the Owls. USA Today is reporting this matchup.
Listen, when you are in the MAC and you don't take care of business in three league games, any bowl is a great bowl.
There are just some better than others and I'm rooting for the first or second matchup.
Create your own Animation

Saturday, November 26, 2011

TV Times: 1970 World Cup preview

Many England fans of a particular vintage rightly look back on the 1966 World Cup as a high water mark in all their time supporting the national team. What's easy to forget, however, is that the following World Cup was the one that had everyone talking. England entered the 1970 World Cup as champions and no-one could fail to get caught up in all the hullabaloo that was generated.

Sir Alf Ramsey's team flew out to Mexico to defend their title and back home it seemed like everyone was intent on watching every moment of what would surely be another successful tournament. For the first time ever, the World Cup was broadcast in colour and an appreciative UK public settled down in eager anticipation to watch events as they panned out.

Getting the women onside

To fan the flames of such widespread interest in the competition, the TV Times launched it's special preview issue on the week of 30 May to 5 June (price - ninepence). Headlined How to Survive the World Cup, the magazine took a unique approach by siding with the UK's female population who, it figured, would soon be bored with the welter of football coverage hitting their screens in the coming weeks.

The front cover was a vivid green, save for the white-bedecked curves of Trisha Noble - an Australian singer well known to British music lovers at the time. Male football fans probably would have bought a TV listings magazine anyway back in the middle of 1970, but having such a tempting feminine form on the cover no doubt would have made it an absolute certainty.

And exactly how would the TV Times provide women with the means to survive the 1970 World Cup, you ask? Why with knitting, of course! Don't you remember? Everyone was knitting back then, or so the TV Times would have you believe. Knit Yourself a World Cup Woolly was the feature if you wanted to look like Peter Bonetti and family. Quite why anyone had woollen sweaters in mind when the average daytime temperature in early June was somewhere in the region of 23 degrees C is beyond me, but there it is. As for his daughter Suzanne and her knitted two-piece 'suit', the least said about that, the better...


It wasn't just knitting that the TV Times could offer women, though. There was also Bingo! Yes, the average British female in 1970 was barely breaking into three dimensions with such predictable interests, in fact the only thing missing from this issue was a guide on 'How to Make Three Square Meals a Day For Your Husband.'

Anyway, the Bingo game in question was brilliantly contrived in nature. Printed on page 5 of the magazine was a Bingo card, onto which women were invited to write the names of their four dishiest players from the first week of the competition. If those four players matched up with those chosen by Trisha Noble, Kathie Webber (resident cook) and Gabrielle Drake (actress and future Crossroads stalwart), the lucky entrant could win £4,000. Failing that, the man of the house could also enter by predicting the names of that week's Best Player, the scorer of the Best Goal, Best Goalkeeper and Most Sporting Player. With that last category in mind, aficionados won't take long to work out that Jimmy Hill was on the judging panel for this one.

The classic panel

Hill's judgement (along with that of Malcolm Allison, Derek Dougan, Pat Crerand and Brian Moore) would also serve its purpose for the feature Here Come The Soccer 'Oscars'. ITV Sport's crack band of experts would be giving out awards after the World Cup to those players it thought were best throughout. TV Times even looked back four years to see who might have won the same awards in 1966.

Elsewhere, Peter Farley explained the complicated process by which coverage of the World Cup in Mexico would reach our shores in When a Football Bounces 5,500 Miles. Apparently it's got something to do with Goonhilly, a bunch of satellites and an 84-foot wide dish on a mountain outside Mexico City. Perhaps that's what they meant earlier when they were talking about the World Cup's Dishiest Players...

Soccer with the stars

And this being a celebrity-orientated magazine, there was also the obligatory feature telling us How The Stars Will Watch. Michael Parkinson's wife Mary was apparently going spare with all the wallcharts and other ephemera littering the family home. "The house looks like the Aztec Stadium" she said in a not-at-all-written-on-her-behalf quote. Bernard Youens - Coronation Street's Stan Ogden - meanwhile planned to put his feet up while supping a pint or two. 'England for the Sup!' said the TV Times, showing The Sun's headline writers the way long before their time.

Behind the mic

The only other thing we needed to find out was the make up of ITV's commentary team. Poor old Brian Moore had to forego a Mexican holiday in 1970. He was stationed at the ITV studios in London throughout. Luckier, however, was Hugh Johns (ATV), Gerry Harrison (Anglia), Gerald Sinstadt (Granada), Roger Malone (HTV) and none other than the former England international and ATV Head of Sport, Billy Wright.

Johns, we learned, had spent two months compiling a World Cup dossier beforehand. Sinstadt would be in Leon while his wife was giving birth to their first child. Harrison had been doing keep-fit exercises to ensure he stood the pace. Malone, however, was looking forward to celebrating his 37th birthday after the opening match had taken place. It's not difficult to see who the slacker was in the ITV commentary team, is it?

On the box

Finally, what else was on ITV during the opening week of the 1970 World Cup? Well to begin with, Saturday afternoon featured the iconic World of Sport, introduced by Richard Davies, whoever he is. The same evening you could settle down to watch The Des O'Connor Show with guest star Val Doonican and Jack 'Waa-haay!' Douglas.

At 4.15 on Sunday afternoon there was Bob Monkhouse and The Golden Shot which had one of those did-I-read-that-right line-ups of Tommy Trinder, Anita Harris and Status Quo. Later in the week, you could also feast your eyes on Hawaii Five-O, Doctor In The House and the Benny Hill silent one-off, Eddie In August. Well they were hardly going to put their best programmes on during a World Cup, were they?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Handicapping Temple's bowl odds

"There is no doubt that Temple will be in a bowl game."
_ Steve Addazio

Only 14 more games remain in Bernard Pierce's career at Temple (this year's
bowl game and next's year's 13 games) and that thought seems to weigh heavy on
head coach Steve Addazio as the two share a hug on Friday afternoon.
Great photo by Mike Edwards

It's been a long time since I've put some sheckles on a football game, but I could not help but noticing the score of Temple's game today against visiting Kent State in the final moments.
Temple 34, Kent State 16.
Temple was a 17 1/2-point favorite.
The Owls won by 18.
"How good is Vegas?" I said.
Not as good as me, though. I predicted a 28-10 Temple win and the line fell right on that 18-point spread.
I don't think Vegas does lines on handicapping bowls, but I'll take a shot.
Temple's got a 75 percent chance or BETTER of going to SOME bowl with an 8-4 record. Had the Owls lost, it would have been a 25 percent chance or LOWER of going to a bowl.
Here's what I have:
KRAFT HUNGER BOWL _ Better than a 50 percent shot and I think this is where the Owls eventually land. Since the bowl is in San Francisco, I think they will land a California team (Cal?) to play Temple. Since the local angle takes care of the crowd, the KHB won't be as keen on a team that brings a big following as one that gives them big East Coast TV ratings and Temple provides that. It's a great story line, too, in that it could be a rematch of the 1979 Garden State Bowl, won by Temple.

NEW MEXICO BOWL _ Owls have a 40 percent chance of going here. Look for a Utah State vs. Temple matchup if that happens. Utah State brings the crowd, Temple brings the East Coast TV ratings.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL _ Owls have a 20 percent chance of heading to this one but I think the Boise people would like a team that brings a crowd and that would not apply to Temple. The Owls probably won't travel more than 1,000 fans to Boise and you can blame that on the $825 round-trip airfare with at least two connections.
MILITARY BOWL _ The game, formerly the Eagle Bank Bowl, has good memories of Temple since the Owls brought 20,000 of their fans to the 2009 bowl. Still, the Military Bowl people seem to be keen on an Air Force vs. Conference USA matchup and that's why I think Temple has only about a 10 percent chance here.
Other possibilities (less than five percent) include New Orleans and the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. I only throw those in because both bowls had representatives at today's game.
Whatever, though, it appears because the Owls have legitimate star power (Bernard Pierce) and TV ratings in a large market coming off a three-game winning streak, they will be ticketed for somewhere.
Dec. 4 is Bowl Selection Sunday.
The Owls will know their destination well before then.
You can take that to the bank.

My First... Football Kit - Coventry City Home 86/87

I’ll try not to bang on about Mexico 86 too much in any posts I make here, but given it was a hugely pivotal moment in my life, it’s gonna happen. Let’s just all come to peace with that and move on - about six months in fact, for it is now January 1987, having been subsumed by football and discovered in myself a perhaps unhealthy obsession with football kits. (I say unhealthy, I wasn’t doing weird things with them - I just like them... a lot... I’m not David Mellor you know – contemporary reference for you there.) And so it was that I came to be at Highfield Road on a foggy January morning, visiting the tiny chip-shop-counter-style cupboard known as the Club Shop.

Firstly, however, let me give you some background info, for this was technically not my first ever kit.. No, that was a red thing in the guise of the once successful outfit of Liverpool FC. Half of my family are from that part of the world and so it was that before I was actually interested in football my only contact with the sport was via them and this meant occasionally receiving Liverpool-themed gifts.

One Christmas, my brother received a Liverpool kit. I'm not entirely sure it was a genuine replica, but more of a market stall special as it had no badge or manufacturer label and was just all red. This was around 1984, when pinstripes were in. No matter, as we were told it was the official kit and that was all that mattered. A year or so later, it was handed down to me and I proudly ran out in it at school... next to my mate who was also sporting the Liverpool kit... which had pinstripes... which induced confusion in my non-football following brain. “Mine’s the official Liverpool kit,” I naively declared. “So’s mine,” the response. Brain meltdown. So apparently teams change kits every year or so... ooooh this football world is full of surprises!

So, picture the scene - a foggy morn, a bolt-hole outlet beloved of ‘sell to the public’ industrial estate retailers, and an excited pre-birthday 11-year-old gazing at all the merchandise nailed to the wall (OK, OK, I’m exaggerating. A bit...)

Sorry, bit more background required here: why was I at the club shop, which, being at the ground itself (none of your town centre megastores in those days my friends!) was a fair trek for my non-football loving parents? Well, despite this being a time before Sports Direct or internet shopping, we did have quite a few sports shops available to us. There was Davies (an Intersport), some other place whose name I can’t remember and a small independent sports shop, the type that has a ‘musty’ as its central design theme... it also sells school uniforms.

Davies was the place to get your kits though, being a great shop full of proper sporting equipment, including the cricketing helmet I yearned for. £125 though! And kits they had... Liverpool (on whom I had turned my back for the glamour of my home town of Coventry City... oops!), Man Utd, Arsenal - even England. And Coventry of course, what with this being Coventry?’s like the Subbuteo World Cup all over again! Not even my home town shops stocked the blue and white stripes of CCFC.

So to the club shop again. "Do you have the Coventry kit?" "Yes we do." Hmmm...that was easier than I thought. After a while debating what other goodies would constitute my birthday pressie, I ended up with the shirt, shorts and socks... the whole outfit. Interestingly the boys' version of the shorts used a completely different material from the youth's size and given I preferred the boys' ones, opted for those. I ended up changing them for a different size the following week as they were just that bit too small after alland this was the 80's where 'tight' meant circulation problems.

So was I happy? Yes! And no. See, when I obsess about something, I do it full on. I can’t stand seeing a kit for sale on eBay which clearly isn’t ‘right.’Argentina’s 1990 World Cup shirt had two blue stripes on the collar, who doesn’t know that? It was also actually the same tea bag type material as the 86 one too and no retail replica had either of those features, but that’s not the point! You see what you’re dealing with here?


So, my disappointments. The badge wasn’t stitched. In the 80's, no replica badges were stitched (except my England '88 top, but that’s yet another story) so I wasn’t too disappointed with that, however most badges were generally raised flock affairs. The badge on my shirt was flat. No big deal, but anyway... Second - no sponsor. Again, replicas rarely had sponsors on them, though the bigger teams (those available in Intersport) did. Again, not a major issue, but it bugged me a little. Yes, perhaps I should get a life...

The shirt...24 years later...

What’s most surprising when I look at that kit now (replete with a red number 7 made from some old pyjamas that I stitched on myself), is how tiny it is It’s like a doll’s shirt. OK, so I was a child and now both my age and waist size are nearing 40, but it’s still shockingly small. It’s also aged very well. The badge does have bits missing from repeated wearing / washing and the Triple S Sports logo is similarly jaded, but the colours are still as vibrant as when I first got it.

Of course, Coventry went on to win the FA Cup in this shirt and I not only took great pride in following my home team, but also got called a glory hunter for doing so. To be fair, that happened in January when we were about to face Man U in the fourth round - a long, long way from ‘glory.'

This was surely the start of great things to come, and due to that Cup win, we had some money to spend. So what did we do with our winnings? We bought David Speedie. I believe this is the dictionary definition of a false dawn.

Well at least we have the memories. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the Coventry fans’ favourite kits, but not mine. My personal favourite was to come the following season as we moved into the world of 'name brand' kit manufacturers: the gloriousness that was the Hummel ‘Denmark 86’ style kit - one of the least favourite kits amongst CCFC fans.

And finally the replicas carried the sponsor's name too... that well known brand...Granada Bingo. A Coventry fan’s lot is not a great one...

One last anally retentive fact: The shirt cost £10.31. What kind of price is that? The 80's, eh? Messed up times...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Game Day, Week 12: The playoffs have begun

Morkeith Brown, Adrian Robinson and Daquan Cooper will be all smiles
once again if the Owls beat Kent State  to secure a bowl bid.

According to the NCAA, bowl games can't start until December but you might want to call Temple's game on Friday against Kent State as Philadelphia's first college bowl game since the Liberty Bowl in 1961.
That's because, if Temple wins, it has a pretty good shot at going to a bowl.
If Temple loses, it has almost no shot.
Call it a bowl game to play a bowl game then.
Or a playoff game.

Beautiful photo of Army watching Owls sing T for Temple U
Photo by Ted DeLapp
That's what Kee-ayre Griffin did in the Tuesday presser this week and the ball-hawking Temple right-cornerback is completely right.
Win and advance.
Lose and go home.
That's what the playoffs are all about.
That's what this game means to Temple.
Temple has been mentioned for three bowls if it goes 8-4 and those are in California, New Mexico and Idaho.
Late Thursday night, it was learned that Liberty Bowl officials have also requested credentials for Friday's game, even though it would appear that matchup is likely set. (Maybe there could be some jockeying and trading of teams we don't know about. Still an interesting development.)
Why work or shop on a day this beautiful when you can
enjoy it outside watching Temple football?

Temple's team will have to show up for this one, like it did against Army, Penn State and Maryland. If the team that shows up against Bowling Green or Ohio surfaces again, it'll be time to pack the helmets and the shoulder pads away.
It would also be nice if Temple's fans showed up, especially the 130,000 alumni living in Philadelphia, because the students are away on break.
Most alumni have off Friday, most of them don't like to shop and their presence is needed to impress any bowl officials in attendance. If there was ever a call to arms (and feet and backsides) for Temple fans to attend a regular-season home game, this is it.
Nothing would impress the suits who represent the bowls more than a big crowd.
Temple's players plan to take care of business or, in this case, bidness.
As I see it, Temple's got to follow Steve Addazio's plan to win.
That is, play great defense, make a difference on the special teams (a punt block like the ones vs. Penn State and Maryland might be in order), limit turnovers and use the run to set up the pass.
That last part is important because if Bernard Pierce and Matty Brown get going, Kent State is going to load up the box. Once that happens, Chris Coyer is going to use deft play-action faking to find Joey Jones, Evan Rodriguez and Rod Streater because that initial fake will freeze the defense enough to free those guys.
I expect those four to make explosive plays down the field.


This week's host for the MAC Blogger Roundtable is B.J. Fischer of Bowling Green's Falcon blog.
His questions:
Who is the MAC Offensive Player of the Year?
TFF: Bernard Pierce, Temple ... can't argue with his touchdown numbers.
Who is the MAC Defensive Player of the Year?
TFF: Adrian Robinson, Temple... was the defensive player of the year and eschewed the draft last year and it turned out to be a great decision because he moved up from a projected fourth-rounder to a projected second.
Who is the MAC Player of the Year?
TFF: Eric Page, Toledo
Who is the MAC Special teams Player of the Year?
TFF: Eric Page, Toledo
Who is the MAC Freshman of the Year?
TFF: Titus Davis, Central Michigan. The first-team all-state receiver from Wheaton, Ill. did not disappoint this year. He got on the field and performed right away. Ryan Brumfield of EMU did not get on the field much because he had a pair of studs ahead of him, but I suspect he will make a big-time impact down the line.
Who is the MAC Coach of the Year?
TFF: Pete Lembo, Ball State. ... the former Lehigh coach said, after losing to Temple, 42-0, "that's the kind of team we're looking to become in four years." Then, shortly after that, forced the clock ahead four years by doing something Temple could not do: Win at Ohio. Still had the same players.
Who is your team's MVP.
TFF: Bernard Pierce.
Rank 'em:
1) Northern Illinois
2) Toledo
3) Ohio
4) Temple
5) Western Michigan
6) Ball State
7) Eastern Michigan
8) Bowling Green
9) Central Michigan
10) Miami
11) Kent State
12) Buffalo
13) Akron

A special message from Hooter:

Create your own Animation

Subbuteo TV ad (1960's)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Panini: Europa 80

Europa 80 was the first Panini sticker collection I can remember owning. I still have it in my possession - in fact of all my old sticker albums it's probably my most prized possession. To my astonishment, I recently discovered I'd filled 241 of the 262 spaces in the album. 'Astonishment' in that I don't remember getting so many of the stickers, plus I was only eight years old at the time and shudder at the thought of how much money my parents must have given me for the stickers. Still, there it is: a gallant effort in trying to complete my first Panini album.

Panini's first 'Euro' sticker collection coincided with UEFA's first proper European Championship. By 'proper', I mean one in which there were two groups of four competing teams playing all their games in one country. Between 1960 and 1976, the finals of the competition consisted of two semi finals and a final hosted by one nation. Hardly the sort of premise around which to base an entire sticker collection.

The 1980 UEFA European Championships changed all that. Having fought off England to host the tournament, Italy were given the dubious honour of providing the setting for games involving the likes of West Germany, Spain, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, England, plus the hosts, Italy.

This was to be England's first appearance in a major tournament since Gerd Muller hooked West Germany's third quarter-final goal past Peter Bonetti in the 1970 World Cup. Ron Greenwood's side headed off to Turin with a side full of emerging talent including Kevin Keegan, Ray Clemence and Trevor Brooking. That squad, along with those of the other competing nations, were immortalised by Panini in their inaugural Euro sticker album and a fine job they made of it too.

The Front Cover
Almost square in nature and distinctively black, it featured a big action photo of Italy's Franco Causio on the ball, closely watched by Dutch defender Piet Wildschut. The album title appeared in geometric cut-out letters above a band of flags representing the competing nations and the Europa 80 official emblem in the bottom corner.

Inside Front Cover
The inside Front Cover gave details of the qualifying round results and final standings, plus the classic Panini 'List and abbreviations of the nations'. Panini sticker collectors will be familiar with this as it cropped up in all their international football albums and provided a fascinating insight into European dialects. Even to this day, whenever I hear the quiz question "Which country is sometimes known by its Latin name of Helvetia?" I can instinctively and immediately answer "Switzerland" purely because of Panini's ever-helpful abbreviation list.

Of particular note is the appearance of several countries that weren't officially recognised at the time, such as Bohemia, Estonia, Croatia and Slovakia. Not sure if it was incredibly foresight of what was to come a decade later or recognition of what had gone before some forty or more years previous.

The album got off to a rip-roaring start with a fabulous map of Europe on page 1 showing where all the competing nations were located. Made up of nine stickers in a 3 x 3 grid, the completed picture was a work of art in itself.

Pages 2 and 3 were devoted to a 'European Championship Roll of Honour.' This comprised of a potted history of all the Euro tournaments up to that point, each one represented by a star player sticker and another of the winning team. All the images were in black and white.

Page 4 featured five stickers, each one relating to an important aspect of the 1980 European Championships. They depicted in turn UEFA President Artemio Franchi, the official tournament emblem (a stylised football flower), the official mascot (a wooden Pinocchio toy holding a football and wearing a paper hat), the Henri Delaunay Cup and a map of Italy showing the match locations. Alongside these was the tournament programme - a place where you could fill in the results of each match as they took place.

Page 5 provided spaces for eight stickers, specifically a city and stadia picture for each of the four venues, and these were always a great way of building up an image in your mind of what the host country would actually be like to visit in real life. Among these, the beautiful coastal view of Naples and the historic splendour of Milan Cathedral particularly stood out.

Last but not least was a mammoth seven-page spread at the back of the album featuring 14 'Excluded Nations', or to put it more appropriately, 'nations that failed to qualify'. As a concept, this seems staggering by today's standards, but you have to remember that only eight teams qualified for Europa 80. In order not to exclude most of the continent from its potential sticker-collecting duties, Panini did the decent thing and allowed five sticker spaces for the likes of East Germany, Ireland, France, Helvetia (sorry, 'Switzerland'), Yugoslavia, Hungary, Northern Ireland, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, the Soviet Union, Sweden and Wales.

It wasn't the first time Panini had done this (as we'll prove in some of our upcoming articles) and if nothing else it made real the dreams of those football fans that never thought they'd see the day when the Welsh national team featured in a Panini sticker book.

The teams
The higher profile teams (West Germany, Netherlands, England and Italy) were set out on three pages of the Europa 80 album. On these were 20 spaces for players, one for a gold foil badge and two making up a double-sized team picture. The rest (Czechoslovakia, Greece, Belgium and Spain) had two pages featuring a badge, a two-part team picture and 14 players.

The sticker spaces were decorated with a pale green surround that contained hand-drawn images of players in goalkeeping, dribbling, passing and shooting poses. Sadly for me, my eight-year-old self coloured these in with felt-tip pens, but hey - how was I to know I'd be able to sell the album on the internet for a vast cost more than 30 years later?

As for the player stickers themselves, they featured the usual high-quality colour head shots framed in light blue with the player's name, Europa 80 logo and national flag of the player's team below. Among my favourites were those of the Netherlands' Johnny Metgod (still with a full head of hair before joining Nottingham Forest), Czechoslovakia's Zdenek Nehoda (a candidate for 1980's Movember campaign if ever there was one) and England's Peter Barnes (looking like he's having a drug-induced interlude, below-the-waist ecstasy or a hangover from hell).

The Back Cover
All black once again, save for a big picture of the Europa 80 mascot in the middle and the usual array of album prices as they were across Europe at the time (15p in Great Britain's case).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks(giving) for a special group of seniors

Derek Dennis, Wayne Tribue, Pat Boyle, John Palumbo are among the seniors on the OL.

One more win and this is the greatest senior class ever.

Some highlights of this class:

  • The 2011 Owl seniors are the winningest four-year class in school history.
  • All but two members of the starting offensive line are seniors.
  • They are the first class in school history to be bowl eligible in three consecutive years.
  • They have won more conference games than any other class in school history
  • They have recorded three consecutive winning seasons and out-scored opponents in four straight seasons.
On the subjects of how quickly time passes and Thanksgiving Day remembrances, we have reached a perfect confluence of that and the Temple University football seniors.
Friday is going to be a sad day for me because I will be seeing a group of seniors wear a Temple uniform for the last time.
It is a reminder of how fleeting life is and how so many players have come and gone but the legacy of this group already is very impressive.
 So I'm officially depressed.
 What do I usually do when I'm depressed?
 Eat a gallon of non-fat yogart?
I'm going to play the lottery on Thursday night, Match 6. Since the numbers only go 1-49, I'm picking the numbers of each of the senior starters on defense (sorry, Morkeith Brown and Stephen Johnson, you are No. 85 and 53) plus two guys on offense. Adrian Robinson (43), Tahir Whitehead (2), Kee-Ayre Griffin (20), Kevin Kroboth (37), Joey Jones (26) and Rod Streater (18). If 2-18-20-26-37-43 come up, I win $900,000 and it'll take a little sting off the next day.
Even as a near-millionaire, there's still going to be some sadness.
This year will be even more depressing because the group includes the following names: TE Matt Balasavage (Lancaster, Pa.), DE Morris Blueford (Chesapeake, Va.), OL Pat Boyle (Towson, Md.), DE Morkeith Brown (Harrisburg, Pa.), OL Derek Dennis (Peekskill, N.Y.), DB Kee-ayre Griffin (East Orange, N.J.), LB Stephen Johnson (Norristown, Pa.), WR Joe Jones (Hollywood, Fla.), DB Kevin Kroboth (Nazareth, Pa.), OL John Palumbo (Lyndhurst, N.J.), DB Deonte Parker (Lakeland, Fla.), DE Adrian Robinson (Harrisburg, Pa.), TE Evan Rodriguez (North Bergen, N.J.), OL Jeremy Schonbrunner (Salisbury, Md.), QB Chester Stewart (Hanover, Md.), WR Rod Streater (Burlington, N.J.), OL Wayne Tribue (York, Pa.), LB Quinten White (Philadelphia, Pa.), and LB Tahir Whitehead (Newark, N.J.).
   A personal note about a couple of guys.
 I feel bad for Rod Streater because I feel he fits the profile of one of those "explosive" players who can make big plays down the field. Same with Joey Jones, who was one of Al Golden's first-high profile recruits out of South Florida. Not getting the ball to Streats and Jones enough at Bowling Green probably cost the Owls a win there.
Adrian Robinson was a four-year starter and MVP of the Big 33 game and defensive MVP of the MAC. He set a terrific example for the Owls behind him by forgoing the pros this year and staying his senior year
Kee-Ayre Griffin was the subject of the only email Al Golden ever sent me. I congratulated Al on his first recruiting class and Al wrote back: "Mike, thanks, but we're going after a guy right now from St. Peter's Prep in North Jersey who would really big a big get. Wish us luck." That guy is Kee-Ayre Griffin, who finally found his way here and was part of the building process from Day One. He was the last recruit of Golden's first year.
    I'll never forget the joy on the face of Morkeith Brown at the bowl selection party and how the entire team surrounded him in celebration (see upper right corner of the logo at the top of the page).
 Adrian Robinson was a four-year starter and MVP of the Big 33 game and defensive MVP of the MAC. He set a terrific example for the Owls behind him by forgoing the pros this year and staying his senior year. The pros will always been there and Robinson enhanced his draft status by staying. You only have four years in college. Cherish them and use all four of them.
Derek "Bone-Crusher" Dennis was a stalwart on the second-best offensive line I've ever seen at Temple and has completely erased the memory of him being the only Temple player in history to tackle another Temple player in the open field (at Army, 2008). Well, maybe not completely because it is a pretty funny memory (and a heckuva tackle of Adam DiMichele, by the way).

I'm going to miss them all, whether they make me a millionaire or not on Thanksgiving.

A special message from Hooter:

Create your own Animation

Monday, November 21, 2011

Benkin makes TU football fun to listen to again

Ron Menchine (left) and Dave Sims were terrific announcers for Temple football.

We take a break from all of this bowl talk (about five days premature, if you ask me) to get something off my chest that has been bugging me for over 20 years.
As a kid, I used to love listening to Harry Kalas do the Phillies and Charlie Swift and, later, Merrill Reese do the Eagles.
Some of my greatest sports moments have come from Harry the K saying "there is it, the No. 500 home run for Michael Jack Schmidt" and literally hearing the tears stream down his face over the enormity of the moment.
Ron Menchine was a terrific announcer for Temple back in the day as well.
Ed Benkin and I have only one thing in common and
that is a face for radio. Hire this guy immediately.
"There he goes, Henry Dynamo Hyno Hynoski, running over Pitt defenders like they were bowling pins. He looks like Bronco Nagurski our there."
I didn't know who Bronco Nagurski was at the time but I knew he must have been good because Ron Menchine said so.
Dave Sims, now at Westwood One, was a superb play-by-play guy for Temple in the 1990 season.
I miss Harry Kalas very much and I still enjoy Merrill, but our own Harry (Donahue) comes up small in comparison.
Very small.
Too much of this: "Owls make the tackle. There's a fumble. Temple recovers! No check that, they didn't.." Or: "The ball is INTERCEPTED! No, dropped."
Or calling Temple's kicker Bernard McManus. Or calling a bone-jarring hit a jone-barring hit.
I could go on and on but there is only so much bandwidth on the internet.
The last 20-plus years as a Temple fan have been a silent spring for me.
I try to avoid the radio as much as possible because it is just too frustrating to listen to anymore. Steve Joachim, I like. I know some people can't take Steve but I think he knows offensive football inside and out and I don't mind hearing his perspective.
Then Harry Donahue took a trip to Puerto Rico with the basketball team and, all of a sudden, Temple football announcing got good again.
Ed Benkin did a terrific job in Donahue's place. He and Joachim were a nice tandem.
I don't know Ed, personally. Heck, I've never even met the guy but I know he's good. When I'm out jogging on a Saturday afternoon (and I've done that the two weeks Temple was playing on Wednesdays), I like to take my transitor radio and scoot around the dial.
I fell on some Princeton football games and thought, "who is this guy" doing the play-by-play?
He was that good.
It was no fluke he was good for Temple as well.
Benkin, a co-worker of Donahue's at KYW, did a terrific job getting the down and distance right and who had the ball and who caught it, all the first time.
Important stuff when you are the eyes and ears of the fans on the other end of the dial.
Now, do I think Benkin has a shot getting the full-time job?
Harry and Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw are long-time golfing buddies and I don't think Bradshaw would have the gonads to tell Harry to take a hike.
I hope I'm wrong for the 270K alumni who would like to have an opportunity to listen to Temple football again without throwing the radio out the window.
Those transitor radios can get pretty expensive to replace.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Temple beats another Big East target

Bernard Pierce would be a wise Owl to stay and get the Heisman he just jumped
over about five people to get in a top two spot next year. The pros will always be there.
The Heisman is his for the taking next year. The ball girl is pretty cute.
On the way down to Lincoln Financial Field today, I turned on the radio to hear the latest sports news.
KYW-AM (1060) reported it this way:
"In new developments in the Penn State story, the NCAA has announced it is investigating Penn State and, it was learned, Joe Paterno has a treatable form of lung cancer."
Thanks, KYW.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Army 0 0 7 7 14
TEMPLE 14 14 0 14 42
1st 12:06 TEMPLE BROWN, Matt 22 yd run (McMANUS, B. kick)
6 plays, 80 yards, TOP 2:54 0 - 7
00:26 TEMPLE PIERCE, Bernard 11 yd run (McMANUS, B. kick)
15 plays, 88 yards, TOP 7:40 0 - 14
2nd 04:30 TEMPLE PIERCE, Bernard 1 yd run (McMANUS, B. kick)
6 plays, 37 yards, TOP 3:47 0 - 21
01:07 TEMPLE JONES, Joe 36 yd pass from COYER, Chris (McMANUS, B. kick)
2 plays, 50 yards, TOP 0:18 0 - 28
3rd 02:59 ARMY Jenkins, Max 1 yd run (Carlton, Alex kick)
17 plays, 80 yards, TOP 8:08 7 - 28
4th 10:37 TEMPLE BROWN, Matt 52 yd run (McMANUS, B. kick)
1 play, 52 yards, TOP 0:09 7 - 35
07:30 ARMY Dixon, Larry 15 yd run (Carlton, Alex kick)
8 plays, 80 yards, TOP 3:07 14 - 35
05:11 TEMPLE PIERCE, Bernard 49 yd run (McMANUS, B. kick)
4 plays, 65 yards, TOP 2:13 14 - 42
I heard about the NCAA investigation on Tuesday and about Paterno's lung cancer on Thursday.
By Monday, we should be hearing this:
"In college sports, Temple has just beaten Army, 42-14."
Nothing like the latest news.
This just in, though.
Temple's 42-14 win over Army represents the SECOND TIME this year that the Owls have scored 42 points against a school that was mentioned for Big East membership OVER Temple.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Fortunately, Villanova couldn't get its stadium act together and cooler heads prevailed at West Point before the Big East found itself with those two programs.
Meanwhile, in the heart of Big East country, in the nation's fourth-largest TV market, Temple has put itself in a terrific spot to finish off another eight-plus win season for the third-straight year and it will finish averaging more than 30,000 fans per home game. TV ratings-wise, no big-city school does any better and that includes both USC and UCLA. The Owls have some marquee players, like Bernard Pierce (three touchdowns, 158 yards) and Matty Brown (two touchdowns, 133 yards). Pierce has set himself up quite nicely for a real Heisman Trophy run next year.

Wouldn't that be great, seeing Bernard Pierce in a three-piece suit at the Downtown Athletic Club, in 2012?
Paul Palmer, who was there as Heisman runnerup in 1986, also was in attendance at the Temple game today.
That's the kind of experience Bernard will remember for the rest of his life.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, though.
When you think that Army and Rutgers drew only 30,000 to Yankee Stadium (in the middle of both those fan bases' footprint) last week and Temple drew 25,515 today, that makes it all the more impressive.
Temple football has a lot to offer, whether that be the Big East or a bowl game. Temple led Army, 28-0, at the half. Rutgers moved into first place in the Big East with a 20-3 win over Cincinnati today. Rutgers and Army were tied, 6-6, at the half exactly one week ago.
The key thing for Temple now is finishing strong, getting that bowl bid and winning the game.
That would be a first for the program in over 30 years and news worth reporting in real time, maybe even by KYW.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holy Grail No.1 - Subbuteo FIFA World Cup Trophy

Search for ‘holy grail’ in Google Images and the results invariably depict some glorious, shimmering, golden cup. There’s also a fair few Monty Python images too, but we’ll skip those. Search in the Football Attic, however, and the results are...well, pretty much the same. As for me, my personal holy grail (actually one of many, but we’ll cover some others later) was also an object of golden beauty, but rather than having once been cradled by the Messiah, this was more likely to have been manhandled by a Saturday worker at the local toy shop. My holiest of grails was the Subbuteo World Cup Trophy (officially known as C182) and it was a quest that was to last many, many years... until eBay popped up and made the whole ‘quest’ aspect of it somewhat redundant.

Let me take you back to 1986 and a football ambivalent 11-year-old is watching the news. “And now the sport”... Images flash up of USSR knocking six past Hungary and the Danes (what a kit!) doing likewise to Uruguay. An 11-year-old’s world is turned upside down and he is instantly hooked.

So some weeks go by, some more matches are played and eventually the object of my desire is held aloft in the Azteca. Only, it wasn’t yet an object of desire: the obsession had not yet taken hold. Yes, I had fallen in love with the trophy, a love affair that continues undiminished til this day, but the seed for my infatuation had only just been planted. The obsession began as that trophy, the one that had sat in the display case of Barnby’s window for years, the one I had dismissed as ugly and ‘not a proper cup’ while admiring the European Cup for its undeniable cupliness, the one I would now cherish after purchasing it from said shop the first Saturday after the tournament had finished, became that trophy that was NO LONGER AVAILABLE!!! Apparently, in their wisdom, the makers of Subbuteo had decided - in a World Cup year - that they would no longer produce the World Cup Trophy. Let me just repeat that: no longer produce a World Cup trophy in a World Cup Year. I know!

And so began the obsession: the decline into insanity that saw me, every Saturday, trudging up to that same toy shop, past the toy guns, past the Airfix models and straight to the back where all the flick-to-kick paraphernalia was kept, but no - it was not to be.

I’m not sure if you remember, but there used to be a world with no internet. No Google, no eBay... no blogs about football tat. Hard to recall isn’t it? Well, now imagine trying to track down a discontinued toy that was only ever produced for a few years and that no-one really seemed to care about. Not even the Yellow Pages could help Oh yeah, help the narcissistic fly fishing author, but not an 11-year-old with a perfectly healthy fixation on a small piece of shiny plastic! 'Not just there for the bad things in life'? LIES!

Time passed and as with all unrequited loves, the feelings only grew stronger, but then... a lifeline! Woolworths were on the verge of moving shops and as such had a lot of old stock they were getting rid of. One such item was a Subbuteo set complete with World Cup Trophy. (I’ve just researched this and I could have sworn the set I saw was called The International Edition, but that never seems to have been boxed with C182 - rather the Jules Rimet Trophy. This one definitely had the WCT in it though (no it wasn’t the World Cup Edition as I remember it being an edition I’d never heard of and I had the '86 Subbuteo catalogue poster)).

So, obviously this story ends here right? I bought it, stared at it for ages and my life was complete (albeit missing an Argentina home kit from 1986, but as complete as possible. Of course a Denmark '86 kit would have been nice too...Where was I?!?)


This was 1987, I was getting about 50p a week pocket money and my parents didn’t believe in the DFS model of purchasing, at least not for their spendalot son. I’d therefore have to save for 16 weeks. I’m sure you can all see what’s coming here... yes, by the time I had enough cash (or rather a few weeks before as my parents weren’t that cruel), I marched into Woolworths to be greeted with the inevitable empty shelf and once again my life fell apart.

And that’s when I resigned myself to never owning one. My first taste of true defeat. Years of therapy would have to take the place of that warm glow I’d have received from its shiny, plastic embrace.

Except someone went and invented the internet and someone else thought an online car boot sale would also be a good idea. In turn, I thought both of these were great ideas! I was now in my late-20s, I had a job, a house, a car, a family... but there was still something missing. Some might suggest it was the ability to grow up, but they are but soulless fools. "Subbuteo World Cup”...*click*

“Holy something or other! How much?”

After several near misses and a few ‘out of my price range’s, I finally snared one... £27 for a ‘paint slightly faded’ example. By slightly faded, they meant ‘virtually non-existent’, but I finally had one.

paint 'slightly faded'...

So did I feel complete? Was my search finally over? No, obviously not - as I said I was in my late-20s, I had a job, a house, a car and a family. Besides, the finish was poor and the base a bit wonky. I needed a better one!

I now have three. One was less than a tenner and was immaculate - until the postman squashed it through the letterbox and cracked the base! My last was more costly, but came in the original box, so, between the three of them, I now have an immaculate boxed trophy with a perfectly intact base and a wife who just doesn’t even bother trying to understand certain aspects of me anymore.

The Threesome

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MAC Blogger Roundtable Week 11

This week's host is Mike Trumbell of The Chip Report, a Central Michigan blog.
His questions are followed by my answers:
1) CMU's head coach, Dan Enos, complained about his team's schedule
and playing 3 conference games in 12 days. Give your opinions on why
lopsided MAC scheduling continues to happen.

TFF: Luck of the draw. I've talked to some of the guys on the team about the two nine-day layoffs for the Owls and they all want to play every week, spaced out equally, but would do not object to games breaking up the boredom of late-season practices. I'm sure the league is going to try to spread out this kind of scheduling so that every team takes a turn.

2) Do these basketball scores Toledo and NIU have been putting up
reflect positively or negatively on the MAC?
TFF: I think positively. It was the water-cooler talk the next day in work and I'm sure just not at my place. So much for defense wins championships.

3) What are your thoughts on the weekday, ESPN MAC schedule? Does TV
exposure outweigh attendance?
TFF: I think the TV exposure has been great for the MAC, since most of the games have been highly competitive.

4) What play has made the biggest difference (positive or negative) in
your respective team's season?
TFF: Brazil's bobbled catch at Ohio that was ruled a completion. Replays showed he never had control AND was out of bounds, but mysteriously replay official refused to overturn the call. That was a negative play. Positive play was Temple quarterback Chester Stewart calling a confused timeout after two failed series in Ohio, earning him a permanent seat on the bench and perhaps sparing Temple a four-game losing streak to close out the season.

Rank em:
1) Northern Illinois
2) Toledo
3) Ohio
4) Temple
5) Western Michigan
6) Ball State
7) Eastern Michigan
8) Bowling Green
9) Central Michigan
10) Miami
11) Kent State
12) Buffalo
13) Akron

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The highs and lows of Temple fans

Temple fans came disguised as empty seats last week.
Photo by Matt Breen
Almost two years to the day after giving me my proudest moment as a Temple fan, my fellow Temple fans gave me a not-so-proud moment a week ago tonight.
Not unexpected, just not proud.
First, the good part.
Eagle Bank Bowl, Dec. 29, 2009. Of the 23,000 fans in attendance on a night where wind-chills reached sub-zero temperatures, 20,000 were Temple fans and they were all loud and proud.
Just before Matty Brown scored Temple's second touchdown of the evening, a familiar "Let's Go TEM-PLE!" chant started from my section (lower level, 50-yard-line) at RFK Stadium.
It got louder.
"Let's Go TEM-PLE!"
Then, finally, a rhythmic "LET'S GO TEM-PLE" literally shook RFK from its rickety foundation.
We all looked around.
The lower deck, the upper deck, both sides of the field, everyone was on their feet screaming "Let's Go TEM-PLE!" from the top of their lungs.
I think the fans willed Matty into the end zone.
It was an imperfect storm that led to the fan apathy. First off, you can't lose to a gosh-awful team like Bowling Green and let the starting quarterback remain in that game after 135 straight three-and-outs.

I said to my friend, Nick, "buddy, take this in. We may never see something like this again at a Temple game."
Sadly, we never have.
Sure, there have been other great moments, like when 40K Temple fans sounded like 100K fans to Penn State's 17K fans, who sounded like 1K fans, this season.
They needed to be rewarded with a victory.
At this year's Villanova game and Penn State game, the atmosphere was, as Steve Addazio said, electric.
If you are going to be considered for a BCS Conference, that electricity has to stay on all the time.
At the Miami game, the atmosphere was befitting an electrocution.
It's not like I didn't see this coming from, oh, about 400 miles away.
It was an imperfect storm that led to the fan apathy.
First off, you can't lose to a gosh-awful team like Bowling Green and let the starting quarterback remain in that game after 135 straight three-and-outs. There's got to be more of a sense of urgency to move the ball against a defense ranked No. 10 in a 13-team league.
Perfect football weather forecast for Saturday (1 p.m.)
Then, you can't lose to an Ohio team that LOST to teams YOU beat by scores of 42-0 and 34-0.
On the heels of both of those laid eggs, you can't have a home game on TV to give a lazy and fragile fan base an excuse to be lazy and fragile.
All of those factors led to a poor showing at the gate.
Army is an attractive opponent and hopefully the win over Miami has restored some of the fans shaken belief. Keeping the game off TV is just as important.
This is a bowl game for Temple, as is next week's game versus Kent State because, without wins in both, there will be no bowl.
I said to one of my tailgating buddies a couple of hours before the Miami game: "This is bad. I don't expect more than 15,000."
When at least half of my other tailgating buddies, people who show up for every game that's not on TV, are missing, you know it's bad.
I expect a good and representative Temple crowd on Saturday, something between 21-27K.
I'm hoping that nobody sits on their hands when someone starts a "Let's Go TEM-PLE" cheer.
We need to get that electricity turned on again.
Where's that damn switch?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Survive and advance time for Owls

They do allow you to give the ball to the fullback and Wyatt Benson can run.

Survive and advance.
You can toss out all the scenarios you want about Temple having a chance at winning the MAC East if so-and-so beats such-and-such but, simply put, we've reached the "survive and advance" part of the season for Temple.
Win and live another day.
"Please tell Daz to stop using you as a fullback. Toss left, toss right.
Screen passes. Sweeps. That's The Franchise I know."

Photo by Ryan Porter

Lose and there will be no postseason, even though there will be another game to play.
Getting to a bowl game seems possible, even probable, for Temple should the Owls go 8-4 again.
You can forget about a bowl with a 7-5 Temple team.
Lose to Army and it's over.
Yeah, you can say lose to Army and beat Kent and Ohio loses to Miami (and Buffalo finishes ahead of Bowling Green) and the Owls could win the MAC East.
That's way too many variables to leave in other folks' hands.
That's why I'm hoping that Temple goes balls out in practice this week for Army.
Prepare for that option, which I have full confidence Chuck Heater is doing right now.

Joe Jones: Reverses, throwback passes.
Work on getting Bernard Pierce up to speed (and by speed we mean tweaking the offensive package so that he goes right and left and not up the middle).
If you want to run up the middle, hand the ball off to the fullback.
Get Chris Coyer more comfortable in his role, which means to stick the ball into Bernard Pierce's belly and quickly pull it out and make a pass downfield to an open Temple Owl.
Work on the reverses with Joey Jones and throw in a trick play (a throwback pass from Jones to Coyer) or two (a halfback pass by Bernard Pierce). Heck, both Jones and Pierce can throw the ball (they both have a touchdown pass in their careers).
Army knows Jones can throw the ball. His touchdown pass, a nice tight spiral at Army, was Temple's best forward pass last season.
Maybe even fullback Wyatt Benson will get the ball once or twice a game. As good a blocker as he is (and he's a terrific one), he was a stud running back in high school at Haverford School.
Army hasn't seen that part of his game on film yet.
When it is survive and advance, you pull out all of the stops.
Hopefully, that's what practice will be all about this week.