There Are No Words

The morning after arguably the greatest win in Temple football history, there are no words.

Literally no words are coming out of my mouth, at least in the sense of being able to talk this morning.

The throaty and hoarse condition is more than OK because it was the result of cheering for the Owls at beautiful Navy-Marine Corps Stadium as they captured what really is their first-ever major football championship. The 1967 MAC title was admirable, but that was a day when the school played to a level of football that was beneath their status even then as one of America’s great public universities.

So this was it.


Walking out of the stadium and into the concourse, I let out a very loud primal: “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!”

Fortunately, I got a few high fives and smiles from my fellow Temple fans and not fitted for a straightjacket. It also put the voice out for 24 hours, maybe more.

When it comes to Temple football today at least, you cannot think in terms of a national championship—the deck is stacked against G5 teams in an unfair system—so what happened yesterday was the pinnacle of Temple football success. Thousands of Temple fans, easily in excess of 10,000 Temple fans, made Navy’s 15-game home winning streak a moot point by turning that stadium into a Temple home field advantage and to get to that mountaintop and look down from it is incredibly satisfying.

Hey, it’s a pretty spectacular pinnacle. The only thing that would have made it better was a G5 slot in a New Year’s Six bowl against Penn State, but that’s not happening for a number of reasons that are not important today. (Objectively, would you take a team for the Cotton Bowl that has won seven straight against this schedule and beat a Navy team, 34-10, over a Western Michigan team that struggled to beat a four-loss Ohio team? I would but I don’t expect the bowl committee to be that objective. I can also grudingly see the WMU argument.)

What is important is that the Owls have gone from being a perennial Bottom 10 team and laughed at nationally to being ranked in the Top 25 for two straight years and going to a title game one year and winning it the next. When you think of the success P.J. Walker and Jahad Thomas have had here, there is a Twilight Zone quality to the parallel between this success and their success at Elizabeth (N.J.). In their freshman year at Elizabeth, they won one game; in their freshman year at Temple they won two games. In their sophomore year at both schools, they won six games. In their junior year at both schools, they reached the title game and lost and, in their senior year at both schools, they lifted the ultimate hardware together.

Truly amazing and I will miss both of those guys.

Back on Cherry and White Day, I wrote that this team will be better than last year’s team while people on other websites—notably, Rutgers and Penn State fan boards—insisted that Temple would take a step back. I was consistent in my belief that this was the STEP FORWARD year, not the step back one, and that belief was rooted in knowledge that both the defense and offense were significantly upgraded despite graduation losses. Only a Temple fan who follows the team closely would know that, not the know-it-alls who make assumptions on subjects they have no idea what they are talking about.

Today at noon, the Owls will know where they will go for a bowl game. They can finish the season in the top 25 and set the record for most wins in Temple football history.

It won’t be the cake because we saw that yesterday, but it will be the Cherry on top of that white cake and it will be delicious even going down past what promises to be a future sore throat.

Tuesday: The Bowl Game


26 thoughts on “There Are No Words

  1. Congratulations again Mike; you and the TU faithful certainly deserved it yesterday. I think you made a lot of sound points though in terms of the “Rutgers/ Penn State fans”, I actually think both sides were ‘right’. Back in July/August I said right here I thought you would go 8-4, with a strong shot at 9-3 and the division depending on the USF game. I also thought you’d be better as the season progressed but you’d likely lose a game you shouldn’t due to the grad losses (ended up being Army) and win a game many wouldn’t expect as you got better (ended up being USF).

    Your entire season turned on the UCF game and your seniors basically took that 2nd half and ran with it; they ended up being everything you said they were. That Army game also IMO helped won you the AAC title as your team/staff learned greatly from it…but don’t forget what a lot of TU fans were saying right here just 7 weeks ago when you were sitting at 3-3 with some acting like Rhule never saw a football before.

    You’re going to have an enjoyable bowl and offseason, and I think you’ll take your bowl game. It’ll also be interesting to see where you end up. It seems likely that WMU ends up in the Cotton. I saw one projection that had you in the Military Bowl, which would be an ACC opponent though kinda odd but maybe apropos to end the season back in Annapolis. I was almost thinking you guys should root for Birmingham vs the SEC. I could also see Miami Beach (that game is the AAC’s baby and they want it to succeed) though the date/time make that game a bit of a dog IMO.

    Joe P.

  2. hard to understand the coaches and AP polls.., how could they leave us out? my guess is nobody wanted PSU to have another Top 25 win on their resume..,
    definite conspiracy/collusion if the BCS playoff committee poll leaves us out

  3. Darn PSU stole our thunder again. When they were down 28-7 was thinking that it was the perfect way to end a perfect day especially because TU was the better team the day they played PSU.

  4. Temple deserves to be ranked at least in the #18-#20 range. After all, we are ranked #3 total defense in the nation and are in several more top-10 NCAA categories. Furthermore, Owls totally dominated Navy, when they were ranked #18. As Rodney Dangerfield said, “I don’t get no respect…no respect.” So, all we get for winning the Conference, having all the national stats, and 10 wins is the Military Bowl against 6-6 Wake Forest?! Look, I understand that Annapolis is close and the game will be like a “home game” and TU Athletics probably picked this bowl over another choice but shouldn’t there be a better bowl tie-in for winning the AAC?? Think about it, Penn State wins Conference Championship and goes to the Rose Bowl; Temple wins Championship and goes to the………Military Bowl 😬 Rhule better have the team prepared to kick Wake Forest’s butt because we absolutely must win to hold on to the minimal respect Temple finally received at end of season.

    • I think it comes down to the AAC not really negotiating well with regards to the bowl options for our conference. I also believe that Army loss is a bit of an issue. At the end of the day, the coach and the players deserve to be congratulated for improving because the beginning of the season was a bit shaky. I will gladly take the conference championship and a Military Bowl win. Cotton Bowl would have been great but we have to be realistic. We should not have lost to Army.

      • You do realize Army is 6-5, going to a bowl and has a shot at beating a Navy team with some ‘Temple-induced” injuries, including starting QB gone for season. The Army loss looked worse then than it does now. And my main point is, Temple is not getting as much respect as the players and coaches deserve!

      • Bowls are almost all about money and ratings, not necessarily on-field performance or what’s fair (remember 6-4-1 ND in the 94-95 Fiesta Bowl?). I’ve seen Rutgers on both ends of this equation (10-2/ #17 ’06 squad got relegated to the Texas Bowl vs 7-5 Kansas State, while our 6-6 ’13 squad that beat zero bowl teams got the Pinstripe vs 8-4 ND, sending 8-4 Houston (who we lost to) to Birmingham).

        I don’t think the AAC negotiated poorly; it’s more that bowls weren’t enthused with the turnstile/TV numbers (same issue that plagued the BE, but it was really exacerbated when a lot of the bigger market teams left 3-4 years ago). Bowls remember things like UConn bringing 5k to the Fiesta Bowl or USF bringing 4-5k to the Belk/Meinekie Bowl.

        IMO the AAC champion should have a guaranteed bid to a game like the Russel Athletic Bowl (unless they go NY6 that year). The Military Bowl is a decent outcome considering some of the other options (you’ll be in Bowl Week and not on a random Tuesday night the week before Christmas).

        Joe P.

  5. As I see it, every AAC team should be favored in their respective bowl game. So collectively the AAC bowl teams need to make a statement and take these games very seriously and look for a sweep of their games. They do that and then the conference can continue to push the P6 claim. Last year there were some real disappointing performances by AAC teams, not the least of which was TU’s loss. This year Temple, as the AAC champion, has the conference reputation riding on it. A loss to Wake Forest and the conference is looked at more like the MAC then the Big 12 or the ACC, the conferences the AAC would like to thing they’re reasonably close to.

  6. Last sentence in above comment should have the word “think” not “thing”. And I agree with Joe’s comments. The major bowl’s want those schools that travel well. But I would hope for some better opponents for the the AAC bowl teams in the future, provided that the conference performs well in their bowl games. That starts with the AAC beating the crap out of this year’s opponents. If TU beat Navy by more than 20 points, then they should be able to do the same against a 6 win ACC team.

  7. Anybody catch ESPN’s 3 minute segment in the military bowl? It was 2 1/2 minutes of them talking about how good wake forrest is . Then one analyst actually said Matt Rhule has done a great job. That is not an easy place to coach “Have you ever been to Temple?”

    Unbelievable. Temple should roll Wake Forrest. This is a big game. If they can blow them out, it will prove to the ACC and everybody else that they belong in a P5 conference.

    • Agree with both MD Owl and Easy Owl Fan. Temple needs to beat Wake Forest as badly as possible, start showing that we are better than mid level P5 teams. I know this words been tossed about a lot but need to treat this bowl game as the start of a post season “process”

    • ESPN hates to compliment anything having to do with Philadelphia. I’ve just come to be used to it. ESPN is a dying media entity anyway.

      It goes against Rhule’s nature, but they need to humiliate WF in this one. Their fans are not optimistic about their chances by the way.

    • ESPN needs to motivate WF fans to make the 6 hour drive to Annapolis. It will be more fun with lots of Demon Deacons in the lots.

  8. JoeRU brings up a good point regarding Rutgers bowl history especially during Schiano’s tenure. They played a 6-6 Iowa State team, 6-6 NC State team along with games against Ball State and UCF during that time frame. The key point was Rutgers had a 5-1 record in those bowls. I think we need to view this bowl game as hopefully a start to a similar run for Temple of multiple bowl wins. That coupled with our championship victory and with luck being in the running most years should be where we are heading

    • JD, you raise a good point. A number of both opposing and even Rutgers fans would down talk our bowl wins, saying we beat ‘no one’, etc…I simply said, “hey, the ‘system’ thought these teams were evenly matched. The ‘system’ thought 8-4 in the BE= 6-6 in the BigXII. The ‘system’ said ‘BE= C-USA or the MAC’. We simply played the game we were put in. If you don’t like it, put us in better games.”

      You also made another great point- the angst means nothing without a bowl win. One year won’t make or break anyone (heck, barely anyone remembers the BE actually winning the ESPN Bowl Challenge Cup in ’06, going 5-0 in bowl games), but like you said, the AAC had a rough time last year. A similar year this year could make it that much tougher.

      Joe P.

  9. As a freshman my dad (TU Alum) encouraged me to go to the football games. I was one of 3 other people on the shuttle to my first game. My ticket had me in the end-zone with empty rows all around me. I sat alone and watch us get smeared (vaguely remember it was 60 something to 3). On the lonely bus ride back my dad called, proud that our tradition continued. I laughed at how bad we were and thought he was a bit off for recommending that I go in the first place. Just one of those “Dad” things.

    Fast forward to today. We’ve been season ticket holders (section 120) since I graduated and have watched this monumental rise as father and son. Temple Football has not only given us many years of sorrow and infinite joy, but also brought our relationship closer together.

    Today we are Top 25 ranked in back to back seasons, AAC Champions, and have a solid chance at winning a bowl game against an ACC opponent. Golden, Daz (to a lesser extent), and Rhule all pushed this program to new heights. My words cannot add much more meaning behind all the great comments Mike has blogged about and many of you have commented on this site. For me it’s personal. For me it’s tradition. For me it’s seeing our players play on Saturday and alums play Sunday. For me it’s bonding with my Dad, and I cannot be more thankful for that.

  10. I’m not an alum. I have season tx and my son, who went to an ACC school, comes to half the reg season games. He came to the championship Saturday. Great times. And anyone reading this who didn’t get to Annapolis for the Championship, should go there for the bowl game. Plenty of good bars and restaurants.

  11. Phillip Walker was 37 seconds from being benched. He learned to take a sack or throw the ball away and live another day. His third down conversion rate is now better, and his receivers are now running their routes properly and catching the ball. He needs to lead the team to victory in the bowl game and sign to play in the CFL.

  12. does anyone know what’s going on w/Chapell Russell?

    • He’s No. 22 in your American Football Championship program. Too many good linebackers ahead of him now but we will need him next year.

      • he hasn’t played since the UConn game and it is not because of talent…., is he injured, not going to class, or is he in the coaches doghouse?

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