Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Temple as the dream school

You can erase that "WVU commit" line from the tape above for Zaire Williams (video now works in internet explorer, but not Google Crome).

In the past three months, we've heard the quote "Temple is my dream school" from at least three incoming recruits.
I've heard it from one basketball recruit, Josh Brown, and at least two football recruits, first-team All-American kicker Jim Cooper, Jr. and Atlantic City wide receiver Dayshawn Reynolds.
I don't know if its the dream school of Timber Creek three-star running back Zaire Williams, but it certainly looks that way after he flipped his commitment from West Virginia to Temple this morning.

“I don’t know why I started liking Temple but that’s been my dream school forever. I can’t even explain it.”
_Dayshawn Reynolds 

  That might surprise some people, but not me.
Heck, Temple was MY dream school some 40 years ago and I told myself as an 8-year-old kid that  if I ever had a chance to make that happen, I would.
So I did.
When you think of Temple with its unique recruiting advantages, it should not be surprising.
Temple is in the nation's fourth-largest market and within easy five-hour driving distance from 46 percent of the nation's population, which as Mitt Romney can tell you, is nearly half of the nation's football talent.
You can go to school at Temple if you want to be away from home, but close enough that the family can get to more than half of your games.
Plus, surveys have shown over the past 10 years that the general student population wants an "urban" college experience over a "rural" one and Temple is one of the few big-city schools that plays big-time college football. Football players are also part of the general student population and generally want the same thing.

'It's a cool coincidence that my dad went to Temple, but he could have gone to Florida, USC or Alabama and I'd still be going to Temple. I know that's where I want to be.'
_ Jim Cooper Jr.
So urban, check.
Easy driving distance for family, check.
Away from home? Just far enough, check.
A place that regularly puts its players in the Super Bowl? Check.
That makes it a dream destination for a lot of players.
I can remember what made it my dream school because the Temple games were on TV every Saturday night on Channel 17 with Al Meltzer doing the play-by-play and the late Charley Swift doing the color.
I became a fan immediately and begged my dad for the tokens to take three buses to get up to Mt. Airy to see the games.
When Wayne Hardin took over as Temple coach, I made the trek down to his McGonigle Hall office to interview him for the Raiderscope, the Archbishop Ryan student newspaper. I watched as Hardin took Temple from a team that was beating the Bucknells of the world to beating the West Virginias and Syracuses on a regular basis.
The other parts of Temple, from founder Russell Conwell's "Acres of Diamonds" story, the top 10 journalism school, the nationally prominent basketball program, the five-day-a-week Temple News, only made me love it more.
Temple is a dream school because it offers opportunities for those dreams to be realized.
No one can tell you that more than Randy Grossman, a tight end who has three Super Bowl rings.

'I've always loved Temple.'
_ Averee Robinson
Dan Klecko, a WIP radio guy who played football at Temple, used his opportunity to get two Super Bowl rings as a player for different teams (Colts, Patriots).
Bernard Pierce, a running back from the Baltimore Ravens, has that same opportunity this Sunday to achieve a dream. Temple gave it to him.
All three, along with many others in different fields, have proven that if you put in the work at Temple, there are dreams to be realized down the line.
Dream school?
I think that's what Russell Conwell had in mind from the beginning.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Greatest Super Bowl Story Never Told

"If we win the Super Bowl, I want to see TEMPLE back on the helmets, coach."

Jim Harbaugh's Temple connection:
1) Applied for Temple job in 2005
2) Finished behind Paul Palmer in '86 Heisman balloting
3) Dad's team was awarded a forfeit over TU in same year
4) Faces Bernard Pierce on Sunday
If you pick up a newspaper this week, any paper in any town, you'll  have to thumb through several pages of  Super Bowl coverage.
Pick a day, any day, and you'll probably find out several times that this is the first Super Bowl ever that brothers have been opposing head coaches and they'll probably find seven ways until Sunday to write the same story.
Yada, yada.
That'll be the most over-told Super Bowl story of the week.
The greatest Super Bowl Story Never Told is The Temple Connection. You won't read about that anywhere but here.
On one side, you have Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers' coach, who once applied for the open head coaching job at Temple and called it a "great job."
Harbaugh made to to Temple's campus, went through an interview and was in the top three for the job that went to Al Golden, now the University of Miami head coach. (Brian White, a Syracuse assistant, was another finalist then.)
That wasn't Jim's only connection to Temple, though.
Harbaugh, then a Michigan quarterback, finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1986.
Ahead of him was a running back from Temple: Paul Palmer. A guy named Vinny Testaverde, also from Miami, won it.
In that same season, Harbaugh's father, Jack, the head coach at Western Michigan, was spanked, 49-17, by Bruce Arians' Temple team, only to be awarded a victory when Temple voluntarily forfeited the game.
So Harbaugh's deja vu with Temple involved finishing in the top three of something 25 years apart and a guy from Miami figuring in the top three.
On the other side of this story is a Baltimore rookie running back named Bernard Pierce.
It's no secret to any visitor of this website that Pierce was and remains my favorite Temple player of the post-Hardin/Arians' Era.
Pierce shows future TU RB Bryant Rhule how to do it.

After writing the "Who's Paul Palmer?" story that appeared on this website, Bernard's mother, Tammy, sought me out in the Lincoln Financial Field concourse to thank me for all the nice words I've written about her son. She didn't have to do that, but I appreciated the fact that she and Bernard noticed.
To be sure, Henry Burris was an outstanding quarterback and so was Adam DiMichele, but Pierce was the guy who brought back "winning" and Temple in the same sentence, so he edges both of those guys out. (Although DiMichele was screwed out of a winning season by some bad coaching in both the Navy and Buffalo games his senior year.)
There was a direct correlation to Pierce's playing and the Owls winning.
When Pierce was out in the MAC East championship game with Ohio in 2009, the Owls lost, 35-17.
With Pierce playing in the first half of the Eagle Bank Bowl, the Owls had a 21-10 lead. Without him in the second half, the Owls lost, 30-21.

Since 1975, 12 Temple football players had made 19 appearances in 15 Super Bowls with 14 winning championship rings. Pierce, a third round pick of the Ravens, is just the sixth Temple player to advance to the Super Bowl during his first season. The last Temple player to get to the Super Bowl was linebacker Rian Wallace (2002–04) who won a ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
With Pierce playing in the first half of the Penn State game (2010), the Owls had a 15-13 lead. Without him in the second half, they lost, 22-15.
Had Pierce played 60 minutes in all three games, I think the Owls would have won two and possibly taken Ohio down to the wire in the other.
Penn State might be Linebacker U, but Temple can make a strong case for being "Super Bowl U" because, since 1975, 12 Temple players have made 19 appearances in "The Big Game" and the 12 have a grand total of 14 rings. Dan Klecko, the 2002 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, has won with two teams (Patriots and Colts).
For the record, I think Temple made the right move in hiring Golden, who had East Coast recruiting connections and the kind of temperament required to right a sinking football and academic ship. Harbaugh, while a brilliant coach, probably did not have the patience to clean up the mess that Golden found left by Bobby Wallace.
Had Pierce played with Harbaugh instead of against him, who knows what would have happened?
That's a story that will never be told but might have needed to be.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bring back the College vs. NFL all-star game

Eagles' Sonny Jurgensen leads the NFL champs to a solid, but not embarrassingly easy, win over the College All-Stars.

Temple's Montel Harris wasn't quite the force I expected him to be at the East-West Shrine game in Florida last week.
Three carries, eight yards in a 28-13 loss to the West last Saturday.
I didn't expect the 36 carries, 351 and seven touchdowns he had against Army, but definitely more than three carries.
Temple's Brandon McManus practices a kickoff in
preparation for Casino-Del-Sol College All-Star game.
I blame the game, not the player.
The way all-star games are set up now, it's not to simulate real football, either in the NFL or colleges.
Sunday's All-Pro game in Hawaii is even a bigger farce that becomes more farcical every year. It's nothing more than a glorified Flag Football game.
I have proposed a trade that would benefit both organizations.
Play a combined group of the best college all-stars (an East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl combined team, if you will) against a REAL all-pro team (minus Super Bowl participants, of course).
Ditch the pro bowl.
Ditch the East-West Shrine game.
Ditch the Senior Bowl.
A similar game was played up to and including 1977 and the pros dominated, winning 31 and losing nine. There were two ties. The college team won enough games to make it interesting enough to attract viewers, a ratings' bonanza in the  early days of television.
One of the differences was that most of those games were in August against the defending NFL champs.
Another, more important, one was both teams were actually TRYING to win.
That's really the name of any game and something that has been lost in recent all-star football years.
My late father and guys from his generation said that the college vs. pro all-star game was one of the highlights of the football season in those days, right up with big games in college football and NFL playoff games.
You could still have the satellite college all-star games for the lesser stars, but this gets football fans a chance to see the LIKELY first- and second-round picks tested against the best available NFL talent.
This is the perfect time to do it as the all-star season for both college and pros comes to a zenith during the last part of January.
I know the college kids would play hard and I suspect pride alone would make the pros play a real game as well.
I can't think of a better way for the NFL to break out of its Sunday-before-Super Bowl malaise and  it would certainly be a booster shot for college football.
A win-win for all fans of this wonderful game.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Philly and Boston: Recruiting tale of two cities

Players like Arkum Wadley (N.J.) have helped Matt Rhule jump over Steve Addazio in recruiting.

Today's guilty pleasure is a story of two cities, Philadelphia and Boston.
In one, a school is holding on to a group of pretty solid recruits, despite losing its head coach during the first week of December.
In another, a new coach is scrambling for recruits and, as of Tuesday, did not land a single new commitment despite being on the job for over a month.
One of the schools had to wait for a guy coming off a long NFL season.
The other guy, named a "National Recruiter of the Year" (NROY) three times, jumped right in and hit the ground running.
So it figures the NROY is beating the NFL guy, right?
Think again.
Matt Rhule, the NFL guy, pretty much kept most of his commitments in Philadelphia for Temple University.
Heck, he even made a phone call to a recruit three hours before his New York Giants were scheduled to play in Atlanta.
Steve Addazio, the NROY guy, had yet to land his first commit for Boston College as of Tuesday.
It's OK not to suppress that guilty smile.
It appears to be a solid class of guys who can help right away. I'm penciling in Mainland (N.J.) kicker Jim Cooper already as a starter for next season. New Jersey player of the year P.J. Walker is the quarterback of the future, starting no later than 2014, and running back Jihaad Pretlow's junior highlights can be found here.
In the chart below, compiled by loyal TFF reader Steve Sipe (yes, the brother of Berlin attorney Brian Sipe),  Temple has only lost one commit so far, Clearwater tight end A.J. Sattinger.
As always, I hesitate to publish charts because this two-week period before signing day can be tricky but this gives Temple fans a general idea of how things are going and they are going pretty well.
I'd like to see a second quarterback in this class since all three Temple top quarterbacks are graduating at the end of the 2013 season. A pass rusher with about 80 sacks, preferably a ready-to-go JC one, would be a nice addition to bringing in DTs like Averee Robinson and Tyler Haddock-Jones (only Haddock fit on the google spreadsheet).
"Other than that" as sports talk caller Jose from Norristown might say, Temple fans should be all set for a nice signing night film session party. (Or a day after film session party in Philly, New York or Scranton.)
Haddonfield (N.J.) WR Zach Grant should also appear on this list., as should Arkum Wadley, whose video appears at the top.
In between finishing up his duties as an assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants, Rhule had to   keep a diverse group of Addazio recruits in the fold and, for the most part, it appears that he's done that.
On the other hand, Daz is having trouble bringing guys north to Boston.
I must give Addazio some credit, though, for not "stealing" Temple recruits. The thought crossed my mind maybe, oh, five minutes after I heard Daz was leaving Temple.
So he's got to be given points for restraint.
At least so far.
And, in the recruiting battle between the two, it looks like this kid Rhule has NROY potential.
Sipe has this list of guys either coming in or recent visits. Moody is off the table (Pitt commit)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FKS: The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars Gala Collection (1970/71)

Just off Oxford Street in London lies 175 Wardour Street, today the site of an unassuming shop selling photographic equipment but 40 years ago or more the location for FKS Publishers Ltd - Britain’s answer to Figurine Panini.

FKS were responsible for a whole range of football picture collections between 1966 and 1982, and their first domestic set was published in time for the 1967/68. Here we focus on their fourth, a collection extravagantly named ‘The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars Gala Collection.’ It’s mission was to document the stories and, to a greater extent, the players of the 1970/71 campaign. Being FKS, however, the end product was a little, how should we say... ‘erratic’ in quality.

The front cover provides an all-action shot from an England v Wales international featuring, among others, Geoff Hurst and Mike England. With the FKS logo in one bottom corner and the album price of two shillings and six pence (12½p in new money), we were all set for a rollercoaster ride into the colourful world set before us.

Except colour was rather at a premium for the first few pages of this album. After a Table of Contents and a title page, we then had another black and white layout this time showing the league tables from the previous season. As is always the case for anyone hopelessly nostalgic about football, a casual glance across the four divisions in England and the two in Scotland provides many a reason to smile. Look - there’s Everton, the league champions... Huddersfield Town, champions of Division Two sharing a table with Aston Villa, next to bottom and relegated to Division Three... and whatever happened to Barrow and Workington, eh? A different world indeed.

A wordy review of the 1969/70 season occupies page three, outlining the key events in a way Panini never bothered with. Successive pages tell of the events in the 1970 World Cup, Feyenoord’s European Cup Final win over Celtic, Manchester City’s European Cup-Winners’ Cup success and Arsenal’s clinching of the Fairs Cup. Plenty to read, then, should the thrill of collecting football stamps wear off in a hurry.

Yes, ‘stamps’ - not stickers. The technology to produce self-adhesive pictures was no doubt still being developed at the time, so instead FKS sold you seven stamps per packet (price 6d/2½p) and invited you to apply glue to the top edge of the back of each one. Applying them neatly would ensure that when the glue dried, you could lift up each one to read the player biography printed underneath. A nice touch that ensured more stickers could be crammed in on each page, but one had to wonder how much those pages would flap around in the school playground when a freak gust of wind blew up.

And what of the pictures on the stamps?  It’s fair to say things start well with the first half a dozen or so teams featuring players consistently either ligging around on the playing field or shown in a head-and-shoulders format.

Curiously, things start to go a little awry when we arrive at the Everton page. Here we get our first chance to play ‘Spot the Odd One Out’, the winner in this case being Tom Jackson who seems to be standing in front of a very large banana, one might presume. Similar acts of individualism also appear, such as Leeds United’s Rod ‘Fetch Me A Ladder’ Belfitt or Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Tommy ‘Drowning in a Cyan Sea’ Lawrence. As for Southampton’s Denis Hollywood, it’s anybody’s guess as to the friendship he’d struck up with the photographer.

With the First Division team pages out of the way, we move onto a three-page feature called ‘Second Division Star Gallery’ - essentially a display of 44 players gracing the second tier with their skill and professionalism. Admittedly not every name catches the eye and because the team names are only specified on the back of each stamp, one cannot always be sure who the players play for at first glance.

That aside, some names do ring out from the crowd. We see future Arsenal manager Terry Neill (a player-manager with Hull City at the time) along with future England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, still learning his trade at Leicester City. Malcolm McDonald is there in the white shirt of Luton Town and over the page we get the unlikely sight of Ron Atkinson, Terry Venables and Rodney Marsh all in close proximity as if to give us a foretaste of TV punditry to come.

If this large cross-section of Second Division talent wasn’t entirely satisfactory for you, there was always the opportunity to send off for a printed sheet featuring your favourite team. Yes Watford fans, the order form on page 38 was there to help you get a special piece of paper that you could attach to the largely blank page called ‘Favourite Second Division Team’. A nice idea that presumably generated a bit of revenue for FKS back in the day, while at the same time saving on the cost of ink where the album was concerned.

To round things off, the focus turns from domestic league football to international competition and here we get a page each for Celtic and Feyenoord, finalists in the European Cup the previous season. The Dutch side successfully became the first non-Latin team from outside the British Isles to win the trophy, a remarkable feat made all the more potent because one of their players clearly wore spectacles.

The last page is titled ‘Star Players of Mexico 70’ and features sixteen players that graced the World Cup shortly before this album was published. Each and every one of them from Bobby Moore to Pele are shown on flat single-colour backgrounds, presumably to emphasise their special status, but more likely to mask the questionably dull location they were photographed in.

So all in all, what do we make of this album and it’s non-Panini exuberance?  Generally speaking, it’s pretty good. Most of the stamps feature decent pictures, although some are let down by a huge amount of modification in the colouring department. One only has to look at the peachy-looking faces of the Blackpool players or Keith Weller’s flat blue Chelsea shirt to know there was something funny going on there.

One could also point to the ‘interesting’ poses chosen by the photographers for some of the shots. Even without the players whose heads only just emerge above the bottom of the stamp, there are some seen with their arms folded, some seen with their backs to camera and some with their eyes practically shut. Not exactly the stuff of Panini, and yet it’s forgiveable somehow.

Cramming 420 stickers into 28 pages is no mean feat, and to produce so much content of such a generally high standard back in 1970 was an incredible achievement. FKS is therefore to be congratulated for their 1970/71 Soccer Stars collection. Things could have been much worse... and having seen their sticker books from the late-70’s / early-80’s, we’re here to tell you they pretty much were. For now though, enjoy this for what it was - simply a great picture stamp collection that Panini themselves would have been rather pleased with.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One word for the new staff: Interesting

New Temple WR coach  Terry Smith could provide a, err, Gateway to  WPIAL recruits.

Temple's loss is Arizona's gain.

My Sainted mom, in Heaven since Jan. 14 of 2011,  used to tell me that if I don't have anything nice to say about someone don't say anything.
Most times I remember what she said but the few times I don't, I usually regret it.
So, with that in mind, I'm going to write about the new Temple football coaching staff today and, to borrow a phrase from the Four Tops, this is going to be short.
It looks pretty much complete with a tweak or two remaining.
One of the current recruits used the word "genius" when new coach Matt Rhule informed him of the potential members of the staff back in December.
I prefer the word "interesting" instead.
So far, the people who've told Rhule "I'll be there" include Brandon Noble (defensive line), Allen Mogridge (special teams), Ed Foley (assistant head coach) and Fran Brown (promoted from graduate assistant, probably DBs).
Genius might have been a more appropriate word if names like Bill Cubit (now offensive coordinator at Illinois), Nick Rapone (now DB coach of the Arizona Cardinals), Chuck Heater (now defensive coordinator with Marshall) or Nick Rolovich (now OC with Nevada) were either coming to or staying at 10th and Diamond.
Hopefully, Marcus Satterfield points TU in the direction of the end zone
Heck, I know for a fact that Heater, Rapone and Rolovich gave the jobs some serious consideration and Rapone, whose daughter goes to Temple, really wanted the DC job. A guy who runs the Western Michigan website assured me that he had word from "a very good source" Cubit declined the head coaching job at Western Illinois to pursue the OC job at Temple. Cubit is from Sharon Hill, so that makes sense.
Whatever happened in all of those cases is now water under the bridge.
All I care about is the Temple bridge holding up.
The good news is that I'll take Rhule all seven days of the week and five times on Saturday over "we have to be able to run the ball for 200 yards a game" Steve Addazio.
It's the rest of the staff that has me scratching my head.
Matt Rhule could have endeared himself
to hundreds of ex-Temple players and
probably thousands of Temple fans
and given himself a great DC by hiring
Nick Rapone, who was interested in the job.

So that's why I'm calling this staff interesting.

There's a lot of ifs involved.
If new wide receivers' coach Terry Smith, former highly successful Gateway head coach, can build a pipeline to some of the better WPIAL talent that Pitt had been getting in the past and redirect the flow East to Temple, that could  be a significant hire. Temple has been getting talent out of the WPIAL in the past, but prospects who typically held offers to only schools like Kent State and Bowling Green. Pitt plucked a kid out of George Washington High in Philly last week. It's time for Temple to launch an effective full retaliatory strike in Pitt's backyard.

If anybody can get that done, it's Smith.
Still, this is the first time I can ever remember Temple hiring a high school coach for its staff.
My thoughts on Phil Snow are well-chronicled below. I'm crossing all eight fingers and two thumbs that Temple is getting the 2001 Snow, not the 2012 Snow.
If Temple is getting the 2001 Snow, who had the UCLA defense ranked near the top of the PAC-10, that's a plus.
Marcus Satterfield took obscure Tennessee-Chattanooga into the national rankings in points scored and total offense in 2011, so I'm hopeful there. Yet the Mocs (yeah, that's their nickname) slipped back into the middle of the pack offensively in the Southern Conference in 2012, so that's a concern.
If Temple gets the 2011 Satterfield, not the 2012 one, things could get interesting for the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard operator in 2013.
And that's the nicest word I can use for now.
Interesting, not if.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nintendo World Cup, 1990

We're delighted to say that Matthew Wassell is back in the Attic, and this time he's reliving a football computer game in glorious technicolour...

With it being yet another snowy afternoon in deepest Norfolk, my thoughts turn to the joys and heat of summer and in particular, the World Cup. Released in 1990 for the NES and Game Boy, Nintendo World Cup aimed to bring the excitement and glamour of the world’s most popular football tournament to the monochrome, handheld screen and having received it as a present from my grandmother 22 years and five World Cups ago, I've decided to try it out once more but this time on my trusty and significantly more modern, Gameboy Advance SP.

Predictably, the 1-player game consists of guiding your team to glory by winning the gleaming trophy, so obviously the first task is to pick your squad and you have thirteen (bizarrely!) nations to choose from, including many of the usual suspects, such as France, Spain, England, Italy, Brazil and Argentina, through to the never-to-be-seen again USSR and popular game selling countries such as the USA and Japan.

Before the match can begin, however, there are a few tactical decisions to make. The game is a 6-a-side affair but there are no FIFA-style licences here so each player is defined solely by a single, Brazilian style forename for their country (picking the USSR for the novelty factor, my players included Pyotr, Pavel and my favourite, Boris).

Attacking strategy consists of either passing the ball or to “use dribble” as Nintendo World Cup puts it. I opt for the former, mainly because the team has only one midfielder and I don’t want any fancy ball-playing from him whilst I toil up front! Finally, the game then asks whether my team mates should shoot – either frequently or not at all. Not being a complete ego-maniac, I graciously allow my team mates to get in on the act and shoot for themselves.

For my first match, I'm drawn against the might of 1990's Cameroon. In Gameboy Advance SP colour, the graphics are generally more than acceptable with white line markings set out nicely against a two-tone green pitch (although there are other surfaces such as Dirt and Ice to pick from). The downside, though, is that both teams are made up of very pink, very chunky players who look more inclined to enjoy a good punch-up in a pub car park than a football match. And one of those players is me!

Yes, for unlike a lot of football games old and new, you control just the one player whilst the Game Boy controls the others. This can take a bit of getting used to and in my first game, I spend most of my time attempting to control the other players, not realising that virtual me is in fact running into a corner flag for 90% of the match. By pressing either the A or B buttons though, you can order your players to pass, tackle or shoot depending on the circumstances, giving you a bit of control. They usually obey, but getting your one player into position to receive a pass, for example, can be the hardest thing and often the ball will be simply crossed from one side of the pitch to the other over your head repeatedly, like a game of piggy in the middle!

There are no offsides and no fouls either, which just adds to the sense that this isn't so much a football match as a Royal Rumble in disguise. Players can be tackled, shoved and knocked out with a particularly hard shot on goal so it’s not for the faint hearted. Ah, but it harks back to a time when men were men! Each team also has five super shots that, as well as decimating any opposition player in their way, are particularly difficult for the goalkeeper to stop, usually resulting in a goal. In fact, this is pretty much the only way I can score.

Whilst the gameplay isn't too bad and I do recommend Nintendo World Cup generally for any retro fans, without doubt the worst aspect has to be the music. From the minute it loads, a pseudo 8-bit rock number begins and can only be silenced by turning down the volume on the Game Boy completely (unless I’ve missed a setting somewhere). It gets immensely annoying and only after one half of the first match at that! It’s a shame because there are some decent whistle, player and crowd effects to be heard deep beneath the dreadful tunes.

I lose to Cameroon. The dream is over. But as with all football games, another tournament is just around the corner, though perhaps this time I’ll ask my players to dribble more and never shoot. That must have been the problem! There is also a 2-player VS option but as that can only be played with another Game Boy linked up via a cable, it looks like I’ll be playing Cameroon until I either eventually beat them or throw the game out of the window... the music made me do it, honestly!


While you're trying to work out whether to believe him or not, let us pass on our thanks once again to Matthew for his latest post and if you want to read more of Matthew's reminiscences, follow the links below.

Meantime, if you recall a special football computer game that occupied much of your time when you were younger, why not write about it and send your words to us like Matthew did? Just drop us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com and we'll do the rest!

Other posts by Matthew Wassell:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The News of the World Football Annual 1983/84

The arrival of the 1983/84 season prompted many to wonder how far football had fallen in recent times. The game had lost its allure and was in something of a tailspin but The News of the World Football Annual, through its anecdotal ponderings, acknowledged this for the ages and tried to offer some cause for hope at the start of a landmark campaign.

The season began with a new name for an old competition. The Football League was now known as the Canon League. According to the Annual, an announcement was made on May 5 1983 that a deal had been struck with the Japanese camera and business equipment maker to the tune of £3.2 million, lasting three years.

If that figure seems paltry compared to today’s big money deals, consider this. When shared out, Canon’s money ensured every First Division club would benefit by just £10,000 each. Considering Watford’s Luther Blissett had moved from Watford to AC Milan for £1 million during the summer of ’83, it really didn't seem like much at all. True, more money was distributed for the high achievers in the League, but even then the First Division champions would only get an additional £50,000. Even the winners of the Milk Cup could expect £64,000.

Fortunately, clubs could finally rely on a greater source of income from the new TV deal that had been thrashed out between the Football League (sorry – Canon League) and the two main broadcasters, BBC and ITV. Under the terms of the new agreement, ten live games would now be shown every season. Match of the Day would show five on Friday nights, while the other five would appear on The Big Match on Sunday afternoons. No club would appear in a live match more than once, although the usual weekend highlights would continue in their regular form on both channels.

According to the News of the World Football Annual 1983/84, the new TV deal wasn’t the fait accompli it may have at first seemed. The League were reluctant to allow live games to be shown for fear that it would discourage people from attending matches in person, while the broadcasters were hesitant about showing team shirts with sponsors logos on them. In the end a compromise was reached ensuring this would be the first season where shirt advertising was seen on our screens.

Elsewhere, further changes were being made to the game. For the first time in 1983/84, the Milk Cup Final would be played on a Sunday, and to ensure the pitch was in good condition (and provide an all-round facelift), a new 20-year £4 million contract had been signed by the FA and Wembley Stadium Ltd in May 1983.

Yet such talk of contracts and high finance masked the growing malaise creeping into the international game. In England, attendances for domestic games had plummeted by 1.24 million in the past year reaching their lowest total since the Second World War. Even across Europe, only eight countries had seen an increase in the number of fans passing through the turnstiles (Scotland being one, curiously).

International matches were suffering too. Within the pages of the Annual it’s noted that the British Championship match between England and Wales at Wembley in February 1983 saw the lowest attendance ever for an England match – just 24,000 paying to see a starting XI featuring such talent as Alan Devonshire, Derek Statham and Gary Mabbutt.

As for success on the pitch, things were little better as English clubs were finding their run of dominance in Europe seemingly at an end. The previous season had seen holders Aston Villa knocked out in the quarter finals of the European Cup by Juventus along with English champions Liverpool, beaten on aggregate by Polish side Widzew Lodz.

In the other competitions, the misery continued. In the Cup-Winners’ Cup, Tottenham had been eliminated by Bayern Munich in the Second Round while Arsenal, Ipswich, Manchester United and Southampton all fell at the first hurdle in the UEFA Cup. Perhaps the English clubs could turn to Scotland for inspiration what with Aberdeen winning the European Cup Winners Cup and Dundee United unexpectedly reaching the UEFA Cup quarter finals.

The times were certainly ‘a-changing according to the News of the World Football Annual 1983/84, not least because Liverpool, the biggest club in the country, were about to begin a new era under the managerial leadership of Joe Fagan. The 1982/83 campaign had ended with Bob Paisley retiring from the game after a nine-season run in which The Reds had picked up 20 major trophies. They were now faced with the task of trying to maintain their unprecedented success by once again promoting from within the Anfield boot room. No-one could be sure Fagan would be able to do so, but a look back at Paisley’s roll of honour would provide his team with ample inspiration for the coming season.

If Liverpool had one quality above all others it was the ability to score goals, yet amid a period of uncertainty and negativity, it was pleasing at least to be reminded of one final statistic from the 384-page pocket annual. The 1982/83 season had provided the highest number of goals across all four English divisions for 15 years, and which team stumped up with the most goals of all the 92 teams? Why Wimbledon, of course. The Division Four champions scored 96 in total - nine more than Liverpool.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Temple and the coaching dominoes

Bruce Arians' first HC job was at TU in 1982 and now, 30 years later, gets his next one.

Round and round the coaching Merry-Go-Round goes and where it stops nobody knows.
Well, at least until a couple of hours ago.
For those who have Temple football connections, it appears to have stopped for awhile now.
Former North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop is actively seeking a NFL job. If he doesn't get one, he reportedly told Matt Rhule he will accept Rhule's offer to be OC.
Geez, I hope he gets an NFL job because I don't really want someone here who says, "Well, if nothing pans out, I'll have to take the Temple job, honey."

Snow's defenses gave up 44 points per game in 2010 and 38
points per game in 2012.
I'd rather have Marty Mornhinweg. First, he lives here already, his kid went to St. Joseph's Prep and his presence might beget a five-star quarterback named Skyler Mornhinweg, currently at Florida.
When was the last time Temple recruited a five-star quarterback?
(Answer: Paulsboro's Kevin Harvey, recruited by Ron Dickerson.)
Instead, Temple fans will end up with a DC, Phil Snow, whose best days were in the last century at Arizona State. Since 1996, his defenses have not posted a single shutout or had more than three games (in 72 tries) of limiting FBS foes to single-digits. He's lost a lot off his fastball. In Snow, Rhule sees the 1952 Robin Roberts, not the 1967 Roberts, who ended his career with the Reading Phillies. I hope I'm wrong, but I see similar decline in important career numbers with Snow.
I must admit, after hearing names like Bill Cubit, Nick Rolovich and Nick Rapone thrown out there, ending up with Marcus Satterfield and Phil Snow as Rhule's top two lieutenants is a bit underwhelming.
In the pros, former Temple head coach Bruce Arians landed as head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. To me, that's the hire of the NFL year and Bruce having coached at Temple has really nothing to do with it.
Was there a candidate out there with two Super Bowls under his belt as an OC, a reputation of turning young quarterbacks into all-pros and someone who turned a losing culture into a winner as a head coach?
I think Rhule is in love with the 2001 Snow, not the Snow of 11 years later. If you take a step back and look at Snow's resume objectively, he has not done much since 2001. He had a decent year for a non-winning Eastern Michigan team in 2011, but even then the Hurons didn't limit any offense under double-digits.
I think Satterfield could be very, very good but I don't know for sure.
But Rhule built that squeaky bed and now he'll have to sleep on it.
In the pros, former Temple head coach Bruce Arians landed as head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. To me, that's the hire of the NFL year and Bruce having coached at Temple has really nothing to do with it.

"Coaching is relationship-building
not just great players
but ballboys, managers
kids at Temple that I still
stay in touch with today
and they are my family."
_Bruce Arians
head coach
Arizona Cardinals

Was there a candidate out there with two Super Bowls under his belt as an OC, a reputation of turning young quarterbacks into all-pros and someone who turned a losing culture into a winner as a head coach?
Other than Bruce, who got his last full-time head-coaching gig 30 years ago, I know there wasn't.
I can't imagine Chip Kelly bringing much more than suspect college assistants to Philadelphia.
Arians' 20 years of contacts is going to build a solid NFL-ready staff and his first staff member is Todd Bowles, a former Owl player of his, as DC.
Good move by Bruce.
Bowles was unfairly blamed for the Eagles' defensive woes because he inherited a backfield that was on strike and bereft of talent  all season. Bowles will have plenty of defensive talent in Arizona.
Speaking of Bowles, had he been hired as Temple head coach head coach instead of Rhule, his two coordinators would have been Mornhinweg and Rapone. That would have given Temple a guy who posted 11 shutouts since Snow's last one as DC, an NFL OC and (possibly) a five-star QB recruit.
A little birdie, a red one, told me.
Funny what happens on the coaching Merry-Go-Round before it comes to a complete stop.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stick With Soccer - Daily Mirror Sticker Album 1986-87

Say "football stickers" to anyone and they'll probably wonder why you're shouting random phrases at them in the street... and why you appear to have no pants on, but are still wearing a nice pair of shiny brogues.

That's not what this article is about though so instead I'll concentrate on the responses of those who are into football stickers, and that initial response is almost certainly "PANINI."

There are times however, when a boy decides that he wants something more than what everyone else has, when he decides to forge a path not trodden by others... and primarily when he sees a set of stickers that are bigger than Panini ones and  feature 'action shots,' rather than boring head shots.

Despite owning two of these sticker albums (86/87 and 1988), I cannot for the life of me remember how I used to obtain the stickers, or indeed the album itself. We never bought the Daily Mirror newspaper so it's unlikely I got it free via that route and the album does have a price of a whopping 25p on the front, so I can only assume I purchased it. Same goes for the stickers. Were they given away in the paper and we just bought it for that reason for a while, or were they available in packets? I honestly cannot recall, so would love someone to fill in this missing info.

So, to the album itself.

There's a brief intro from Bryan Robson, which, if you read it in his traditional monotone way, almost puts you off right there and then. I can hear the quoted words, "Stick With Soccer" (for that is the official title) being forced from his mouth with all the panache of a comatose twig.

Turn the page and we're straight into the action... literally. As mentioned, the stickers in this album are all action shots, no doubt taken from the extensive Daily Mirror archive and it's this aspect which really did appeal to the 12-year-old me. Panini may have been the official collection, but a bunch of staged headshots has nothing on proper pictures of the named stars from an actual match.

John Lukic foreshadowing Arsenal's fortunes?
There seems to be one problem with this approach however, and that appears with the very first sticker in the album. The quandary facing the photo selectors was thus: What do you do when the only image of Arsenal keeper John Lukic is quite clearly landscape? Possible answers to this were "crop the image" or maybe even "Photoshop his head onto someone else's"... known as 'the Panini approach.' But no, the answer the DM came up with was "ah just put the sticker in sideways."

Yup, the first sticker in the album has John Lukic pointing at the floor. Good start, Stick With Soccer.
Sadly, Arsenal have stayed in the top flight all this time, thus robbing me of the opportunity to make some kind of 'pointing the way' / relegation joke. Cheers, Daily Mail!

*** See UPDATE below for further news on this ***

The action shot approach does have its flaws, however, one of those being the availability of images. The John Lukic debacle is one aspect of this... the other is the variety of kits you see on show. On one page, across only seven stickers, we get four different Arsenal shirts!

So...which is this season's kit then? that's not what it says in the Club Info!
One page that does have all that season's kits on show is Coventry City (like I need an excuse to show CCFC!)  This page, though, does demonstrate another issue with the Mirror album. Their approach seems to have been quantity over quality as, though the stickers are about 50% bigger than the average Panini ones, the quality of the shots does vary wildly throughout the book, with most pictures being rather dull in colour and often quite dark. This is not just 26 years taking their toll; I remember them being like this at the time.

Looking at the Coventry page, the contrast between the background image and the stickers makes the dullness even more apparent.  Most of the stickers look washed out and too cold. The only one that appears normal is Kilcline and the fact that one of the stickers on the page is noticeably different just highlights the lack of consistency.

A further issue caused by the large size of the stickers is there are only 13 players on each double-page spread. No fringe squad players will be found here!

Bobby Who? £25 Spending Money!!!
The format of the album is very straight laced with pages only for the 22 teams in Division 1. The only gimmick present is on the last two pages, where a Soccer Super Subs Competition appears. The idea behind this was you used your swaps to create an all star 11, which you would then stick in the blank spaces provided on the reverse of the page. The prize was a not inconsiderable one - a 7-day course at Bobby Charlton's Soccer School, including accommodation, and not forgetting "2nd class rail travel and £25 spending money."

One final note: out of the 22 clubs that made up the 1st Division in 1986/87, nine are no longer in the top flight. They now reside in the following divisions:

Yes Son, Luton used to be in the top flight...wait, come back!
Charlton Athletic - Championship
Coventry City - League 1
Leicester City - Championship
Luton Town - Conference
Nottm Forest - Championship
Oxford Utd - League 2
Sheff Wed - Championship
Watford - Championship
Wimbledon - League 2

On top of that, several clubs are back in the Premiership, having dipped out to varying degrees, Man City being the most notable fall and rise and Norwich, QPR, Southampton and West Ham having only recently returned following often intermittent stays of varying length.

While the quality may not have been up to Panini standard, it was a very worthwhile album to collect and the novelty of having action shots certainly made it worth owning, especially if one album wasn't enough to sate your desire for collecting football stickers!

The Daily Mirror followed the album with a much more professional affair the following year (and also ditched the 'season' style numbering and following Panini's style of being named after the year of release, so the one that came after would be known as Soccer 88, rather than Soccer 1986/87.) I'll review that album another time however, where you'll get to see the Mirror's attempt at foil stickers!

*** UPDATE ***

In the few hours since I posted this, Steve Jinman (@EducatedLeftFt) retrieved his Daily Mirror album and it seems his John Lukic was the right way up?!?!  The mystery deepens... where did the perpendicular Lukic come from? It's definitely a DM sticker so whaaaaa? Anyone have the answer? Was it from a previous album? An alternative universe? WHO KNOWS???

Big thanks to Steve for finding this!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Great Tracksuits of Our Time: No.7

Coventry City (circa 1978):

Seen here modelled by Gerry Daly, this is a smart design in light and dark blue with quite possibly the biggest flappy collar that's ever been seen by the human eye. Forget the Great Wall of China - this collar really can be seen from outer space.

This tracksuit top would have been worn around the same time as the famous Admiral 'tramlines' kit, and as you can see, this is a modification of that same design. Replacing the stripey lines are two broad bands curving in from the shoulder flanking a central vertical band that straddles the zip. Combine it with *that* collar and you have yet another lovely bit of kit from the geniuses at Admiral.

Seen any good tracksuits from football's rich and illustrious past? Tell us all about them by dropping us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com. We could feature your words on our website!

Other Great Tracksuits of Our Time:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Meet your new (likely) coordinators

Phil Snow (left) might be looking at Marcus Satterfield to produce gobs of points.

"While at TU, coach Rapone had a string of DBs drafted or going to the NFL. Kevin Ross, Anthony Young, Todd Bowles, Larry Brewton, Terry Wright, Eddie Parker. 'Nuff said."
_ Paul Palmer, Heisman Trophy runner-up
Temple University
What if I told you Matt Rhule's first two coordinators at Temple are responsible for units that allowed and produced numbers of 38 and 28 last year?
"Geez, Mike," you'd probably say, "I would have liked the defensive coordinator to give up less than 28 a game, but I'm really excited about the OC he's bringing in who's putting up 38 per."
"Try again," I'd say.
Yeah, it's the defensive coordinator coming off a season where his unit allowed 38 per and the offensive coordinator who is coming off a 28-point-per-game season.
What's that Emily Latilla was noted for saying?
"Never mind."
We've gone 2-for-2 with our most recent ahead-of-the-curve hunches (that Nick Rolovich would never show up at Temple and that Chuck Heater would head to Marshall) and, at the risk of sticking my neck out again, I think we're going to go 4-for-4 in a two-week time frame.
Unfortunately, in this case.
It looks like Marcus Satterfield goes from OC at Tennessee-Chattanooga to the same role at Temple, while Phil Snow goes from Eastern Michigan DC to Temple DC.
Wikipedia is occasionally amusing, as was this last sentence.

I wish I could say Matt was going to do better than 1-for-2 here, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
I'm good with the Satterfield hire. I don't mind hiring FCS coaches, as long as they are accomplished ones like Marcus Satterfield, who looks like he's got a solid past and a bright future.
If I were the lone Eastern Michigan fan left, though, I'd send Rhule a thank you card for taking Snow off my hands. Judging from the numbers his most recent team gave up, I think his defensive philosophy is to give up seven as quickly as possible and pray his offense can score eight.
Four-hundred-and-fifty-one (that's 451) points in 12 games is 38 points a game. OK, make it 37.58 but I'm rounding it out.
Looks like Snow's defensive philosophy is to give up 7 as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, another FCS coach who is confirmed to have expressed interest in the job, Nick Rapone, probably won't be hired and the reason we're told is that Rhule promised the job to Snow, an old buddy from his UCLA days.
I'm all for hiring old buddies, but not old buddies who give up 38 points per game.
Every young man who ever had the good fortune to have played under Rapone at Temple will tell you they love Rapone and Rapone was the greatest Temple defensive coach they ever knew when he was the defensive coordinator for Bruce Arians at Temple. Rapone has continued his stellar coaching at Delaware, being named FCS coordinator of the year as recently as 2010. That was a year his defense gave up 181, not 451 points, in 15, not 12, games.
You do the math.
My fervent hope is that the first time Snow's defense gives up 38 points, the 25K Temple fans walking out of the stadium that day won't be saying "we could have had Nick Rapone and instead we have this Eastern Michigan guy"
SINCE he's a Penn State-person, I'll give Matt the benefit of the doubt for being, err, Snowed by a bullbleeper. I like Matt. I really do. I freaking HATE this hire. This is not a rah-rah Temple site. I'll call it as I see it and I just don't see this. I didn't see Daz as right for Temple midway through the season and I called it then. I do think Matt can overcome this, but he'll have to become the DC himself about 2 games into the season. He needs to concentrate on being a CEO and not doing other people's jobs.
That's why Rapone would have been perfect. He's the type of guy you could hire and put the defense on auto pilot. He's that trustworthy.
It's a gold mine that Rapone became available for this job. Gold for Temple.
Telling him "I-can't-hire-you-because-I-promised-the-job-to-a-2-10-coordinator" rates right up there with "the dog ate my homework" on the excuse meter. That's like Johnny Football reneging on his original commitment to attend Texas A&M to be The Man at Temple, but the coach saying, "Geez, sorry Johnny, we gave our last scholarship to Spencer Reid."
Rapone is the very definition of Temple-made. Snow is the very definition of bullbleep-made and, as a Temple-made person myself, I have a very good bullbleep-made antenna.

Snow Fun Fact No 1:
Phil's last shutout as DC was in September, 1996. Chuck Heater had consecutive shutouts for Temple in 2011, while Nick Rapone has pitched six shutouts since 2006
So does every Temple-made person.
Rapone's only shortcoming in this case was that he didn't know Matt in the past. That's Matt's loss, not  Rapone's.
If not Nick, why not Tom Bradley who has at least stopped an offense during the last three seasons?
My fervent hope is that the first time Snow's defense gives up 38 points, the 25K Temple fans walking out of the stadium that day won't be saying "we could have had Nick Rapone and instead we have this Eastern Michigan guy."
Snow Fun Fact No. 2:
In the last 70 games Phil has been DC, he's held FBS teams to single digits just 3 times
Or that the second time Snow gets torched for 38, the 20K Temple fans say the same thing, followed by 15K Temple fans, and 10K Temple fans the third and fourth times.
Don't blame the kids, either, because Snow will be inheriting the same kids who allowed UConn only 14 points, none after adjustments the DC made at halftime.
Yeah, the same UConn team which beat Louisville and you know what Louisville did.

Former Temple Owls talk Nick Rapone: