Rhule of Settled Law


Mark Bright accepting the MVP award

If you do a search for “settled law” on google most of the results revolve around the Roe v. Wade decision which gave women the right to abortion in certain cases. In a broader sense it is used to refer to decisions of the Supreme Court that have remained unchanged for a long time. Roe vs. Wade is not “in the constitution” as Whoopi Goldberg once moronically said, it’s just an interpretation of the constitution that can be changed.

In the court of public opinion, though, the results of the last two bowl games have resolved what might have been hotly contested cases among Temple football fans, maybe forever.

Which team is the greatest Temple team of all time, the 1979 Owls, who went 10-2 or the 2015 or 2016 Owls, who also won 10 games?


Temple TUFF, 1979 style

It’s not his fault, really, but Matt Rhule himself is as responsible for the tarnished legacy of those teams as he was for their success. Rhule, by his own admission, took it “too easy” on the Owls prior to the loss to Toledo and his quick exit to find Acres of Diamonds in Waco led to a poorly prepared team in a 34-26 loss to Wake Forest.  There is no doubt that if Rhule had put the pedal to the metal one year and told Baylor he would talk to them after Christmas, the last two Owl teams would have finished in the top 25.

The legacy of the two most recent teams will always be as great ones, but it won’t be as the greatest. To me, it isn’t even close and it is “Settled Law” because the 1979 team did it against a more difficult schedule and beat a Power 5 team (before the Power 5 even existed) in California at the Garden State Bowl.


Now, had the 2016 team won its bowl game and gone 11-3 and beaten a Power 5 team, they might have had a strong case but it would have been close. The Wake Forest team they would have beaten would not have been as good as the 1979 Cal Bears and they would have had to pummel them to enhance the case.

That 1979 team was also 16 points short of being unbeaten, losing only to No. 7 Pitt (10-9) and No. 20 Penn State (22-7).  Had the Owls pulled out those two winnable games, they would have been—hold on to your hats—national champions. Or at least they would have been placed into a better bowl, against the eventual national champion of that year.

Spoiler alert: Alabama.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

In those days, there was no discrimination between the haves and the have-nots in college football. If you won all of your games, you were national champions, period, end of story. It was college football in its purest form, not the corrupt form it now flaunts.

Does a future Owl team have a chance of finishing No. 17 or better? Sure, but what are the chances such a team loses its coach by bowl time? Probably very good. It’s not quite in the constitution, it’s settled law.

As it was, the Owls finished No. 17 in both major polls and, unless the rules change forbidding a coach from leaving—or even negotiating with another team—until after the bowl season is completed, it is hard to imagine any team ever matching what those Temple kids did in 1979.

Even if most of those kids are pushing 60 now.

Monday: Handicapping the 2017 QBs

Wednesday: The Spring Game


10 thoughts on “Rhule of Settled Law

  1. Good article Mike. Have you heard anything about whether the spring game is going to be played at the soccer field? Having that field it makes no sense to play the game at the practice filed. The game is at noon, which is the earliest I can remember it being played. By the way, heard that money is getting tighter for athletics and that the BBall team’s trip to Spain may be cancelled for lack of funds,

    • They already put out posters with the site listed as the EO. Dumb when you have 2,000 permanent seats already installed four blocks south and USF proved you can play a spring game on a soccer field. As far as the money, they’ve been hiring all kinds of new positions (graphics coordinators, offensive and defensive consultants) for football, so maybe they are tightening it up for other sports to make up. Maybe they promised all of this to Collins. Hopefully, it’s not a one-way commitment.

  2. Not sure if they ever considered moving the field of the Cherry and White game but the Lacorsse team has a home game on that field the same day.

  3. Just heard Maycock dub Reddick first round selection. He was awesome in the drills

  4. Found a 2016 article that ranked the 79 team fifth in the country that year. Because the teams the last two years laid eggs in the bowl games 79 has the be the best TU team ever.

  5. Word press won’t let me paste the article. Just google temple-pitt 1979 football and an article concerning how easy it would have been to select the final four teams in 1979.

  6. Gee, back in the later 60s Cherry and White DAY also meant a baseball game, tennis matches, track&field meet (like with St. Joes), all at old Temple Stadium and other events. I believe the football spring game was in the evening. Oh wait, there isn’t a baseball team or men’s T&F any more.
    Gotta say, I’m really just on-hold to see what Collins will come up with – little expectations except knowing what SHOULD happen, 6-7 wins minimum if he’s any good.

  7. BTW, how did the walk-on day go – any prospects?

    • We typically don’t find out until they update the rosters before Cherry and White. I’ve already printed out the current one and will check it against the C and W one for new names. Those are usually the walk-ons.

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