Friday, April 20, 2012

Getting a kick out of game-by-game predictions

Cap Poklemba kicks game-winning FG at West Virginia in 2001.
Listen to sports talk radio in Philadelphia and you'd think the NFL Eagles played a 365-game schedule.
Even with the Flyers involved in an exciting playoff series with the Penguins and the Phillies' offense more impotent than a North Korean rocket, I would say at least 33 percent of the airwaves were devoted to a game-by-game breakdown of the recently released Eagles' 2012 schedule.
Each caller would call out a game and give a "win" and a "loss" and come up with a figure.
I got out of that business a long time ago because there are too many variables involved.
When it comes to this season and Temple football, I'd like to think that the high end is 11-0 and the low end 8-3 but I simply don't know.
Five games nobody thought the Eagles would win with a backup QB, but they did.

If, say, Brandon McManus goes down in the first game, I could see 3-8 as well. Field position would be terrible and the Owls would not have a reliable field goal kicker.
This isn't like the NFL where you can get a good Canadian or Arena League kicker off the waiver wire. Toledo's Todd French comes to mind.
This is Temple where the only backups are ex-high school kickers or guys from the lunch room in the Student Activities Center.
Typically, there is a huge drop in talent between the first- and second-team kickers at Temple. The only time I can remember two good kickers on the Owls was when Cap Poklemba and Jared Davis were on the roster. Davis was the "Chester Stewart" of Temple kickers. Great in practice, terrible in games. Poklemba was the Adam DiMichele. OK in practice, great in games. Poklemba was an All-Big East kicker. As good as Poklemba was, McManus is better. Knock on wood, he will be the BE first-team punter and placekicker.
Wayne Hardin had success recruiting guys off Walt Bahr's soccer team at Temple like Don Bitterlich and Nick Mike-Mayer. But that was when Temple soccer was good.

What I don't buy is this specious argument that if Temple can't win the MAC, the Owls won't be able to compete in the Big East.
I completely reject that argument. Last year, Temple, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ohio would have done very well in the Big East.
The MAC was an underrated conference. The Big East was overrated.
This won't be as difficult a transition as many think.

Nothing proved the "game-by-game" predictions more ridiculous than the Eagles' 2006 season. Back then, even going in with a healthy (and, at that time, rather productive) Donovan McNabb, most observers picked the Eagles to lose four out of a tough five-game stretch to end the season.
Then McNabb got hurt.
What happened?
Backup Jeff Garcia led the Eagles to five straight wins over good teams and the Eagles won the NFC East.
Go figure.
Or don't figure.