By Mike Gibson
Saw a headline the other day that an unbeaten Temple football team was expecting 35,000 fans for its home game against rival Villanova.
That sounded about right until I looked at the date of the story:
Nov. 23, 1934.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Finding something on Temple football history can be challenging at best.
The local papers, the Inquirer and Daily News, have done an historically poor job of covering the team, even in the fat years of the 1970s and 1980s.
You can totally forget the lean years.
The Inquirer’s archives go back only to 1978, so that eliminates a lot of pretty good years for Temple football.
They cover a Division I team 250 miles away from the center of Philadelphia far better than the one just 1 mile north of the newspaper’s headquarters.
In fact, a strong argument can be made that a newspaper 90 miles away has done a far better job covering the team, at least archiving its history, than the newspapers in town.
After finding that Temple vs. Villanova preview in the New York Times, I found 116 stories about the Temple football team in the same newspaper’s archives covering a wide range of years.
One-hundred and sixteen stories, mostly previews and coverage of games, but a surprisingly large number of lengthy profile pieces (with large photos in many of them) covering the team’s personalities and coaches.
Some NYT headlines:
No Pressure On Temple, Coach Says; Crowd of 20,000 Expected _ Story was about Temple football coach Wayne Hardin and his team’s upcoming game against Rutgers. Hardin said that there’s no pressure on Temple to win because there are so many other sports options in town (1979).
MORRISON PLEADS FOR CONFERENCES; Temple Football Coach Says Two Groups in the East Would Boost Interest _ Ray Morrison, then head of the American Football Coaches Association, proposed two conferences: What is now the current Ivy League and all other (then) Division I football powers in the East. He proposed that the winners of the two leagues play for the Eastern title (1945).
Temple Picked to Win Again – Before a 1974 game against a then good Holy Cross team, Crusaders’ coach Ed Doherty said that the Owls had caught and surpassed Penn State as the No. 1 team in the East. In fact, the NYT notes that after Penn State’s 7-6 loss to Navy the week before, the Nittany Lions fell to second-place in the Lambert Trophy balloting to Temple. Oh yeah. Doherty’s fears were well-founded. Temple beat Holy Cross, 56-0, on the day that story was published (Oct. 19, 1974). That Holy Cross team won three games in a row that season, including wins at Villanova, UConn and UMass.
Temple’s Football Stock Booms Under the Coaching of Warner; Stalwart Line and Speedy, Powerful Backfield Quick to Grasp Details of Famous Mentor’s System — Shift Adds to Deception on the Attack _ Pretty much an ode to then Temple coach Pop Warner. It’s amazing to think that Temple had both Pop Warner and Wayne Hardin as head coaches. All Owl fans should be very proud of that heritage.
Spectacular Third-Period Drive Enables Temple to Upset Texas Christian; RALLY BY TEMPLE TOPS TEXANS, 13-11 Owls Gain First Triumph of Season as Bowles, Tomasic Excel in Second Half T.C.U. IS FIRST TO TALLY Thompson Kicks a Field Goal Then Clark Scores at End of 89-Yard Assault – I didn’t know you could write the whole story in a headline until I saw that one.
Temple, Under Hardin, Gains Football Heights; Not a Normal Season Made Reputation at Navy Temple Lifted by Hardin – A preview of the 1979 Garden State Bowl.
Comic Turns Quips Into Tuition; Bill Cosby, Student at Temple, Featured at Gaslight Cafe Philadelphia Negro Aims His Barbs at Race Relations – My guess is that headline would not fly past any copydesk today (1962).
TEMPLE practices on roof of recreation building – Pretty self-explanatory story about Temple coach Heinie Miller being “happy” with his team’s practices on top of the school’s recreation building. Got to wonder if the punter looked down to the street and yelled, “a little help” when the ball flew off the field. Facilities, who needs facilities (1931)?
TEMPLE SQUAD ON EDGE.; Unbeaten Football Team to Meet Villanova in Homecoming Game. – Talks about the Owls expecting 35,000 for the ‘Nova game.
TEMPLE TO TRAIN AT BATON ROUGE; Accepts Offer of Louisiana State – Squad Will Depart on Thursday Night. – Nice of LSU to allow Owls to practice there prior to the Sugar Bowl. Maybe they’ll do the same for the 2010 game.
The Times had a nice piece on then 24-year-old comic Bill Cosby, reviewing his appearance in a Grenwich Village club called the gaslight. In it, Cosby said his mother wants him to graduate from Temple and “I probably will.” He also noted that New York critics called him “Philadelphia’s Dick Gregory.” He said he might not even pursue this showbiz bug, but at least wants to pay his college bills. Some $365 million later (and that was his top earnings’ year, not what he earned for his career), he’s probably happy that he did.
One story on Warner, by Allison Danzig, marked the first sports story I’ve ever read written by a female sports writer and that was in the early 1930s.
(I’m sure there were some before that, but I haven’t been able to find one.)
One writer, Gordon S. White, Jr., wrote 24 of the stories on Temple football and they were all complimentary, mostly of Hardin and the job he did.
In a story about the Owls’ win in Hawaii, White noted that it was a good sign that Hardin nailed a hole-in-one on the famed Waikoloa course there.
In one of the pieces, White quotes Hardin as comparing his quarterbacks to handicap golfers.
“Steve (Joachim) was a 2 or 3,” Hardin said. “Fortunately, I’ve never had a bad quarterback.”
When you think that Hardin had guys like Frank DiMaggio, Marty Ginestra, Joachim, Brian Broomell and Tim Riordan, you know he’s right.
Al Golden should only have that kind of quarterback luck.
Or was it design?