Throwback Thursday: The Day the Owls Were In First Place in a BCS Conference

Chris Coyer talks about the fateful two-minute drill.

Five games into the season and there are so many theories about how the 2012 football season was going to play out for the Temple Owls.

Prior to the fifth game, I had a premonition that this was going to be a “16-13 or 21-14 game” and I wrote that in my Friday post, adding “go with the Owls.”

I was wrong.

It wasn’t 16-13 or 21-14.

It was 17-14.

And they needed overtime.

Close enough, and I got the right side.

We all know now how the first five games have played out, with the Owls winning more than they have lost and being unbeaten in the all-important conference games.

My reaction to UConn players walking through the halls.

Still, though, my belief turned into absolute metaphysical certainty only when I found myself sharing the same hotel as the UConn players, the Sheraton in Rock Hill, CT.

Not having a refrigerator in the room, I had to get up every two hours in the middle of the night and walk down the hall to keep my tailgate, err, stuff cold. My makeshift “refrigerator” was a trash can filled with ice that kept melting. So I needed frequent refills.


Owls celebrate on UConn’s field after Brandon McManus’ game-winning OT kick.

Each time I opened my door, I saw two or three UConn players wearing Huskie sweat clothes walking aimlessly through the halls.

At least it looked like aimlessly to me.

Later that morning, fellow Temple fan–the late, great Phil Makowski–and I slipped into the hotel meeting room and came away with a UConn playbook left on a seat by a backup running back. Phil snuck the playbook under his hoodie. On the way out, George DeLeone–who was coaching UConn at the time–noticed our Temple gear and gave us a nod and a smile. We smiled back.

At the same time, I was being told that Temple ran plays in the parking lot at its team hotel on the other side of town in Cromwell and also received texts from that hotel saying the Owls were safely tucked in their beds and not wandering the halls.

As a Temple fan, you cannot have this kind of fun at a watch party when it’s a short road trip to watch the Owls play. So that’s why I try to get to places like UConn, Army, Navy, Maryland and Rutgers when the Owls are playing road games. Stories like this you don’t get from watch parties.

I didn’t know UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni was lax on the discipline end, but the evidence seem to have suggested otherwise.

As a Temple fan,
you cannot have
this kind of fun
at a watch party
when it’s a short
road trip to watch
the Owls play.
So that’s why I try
to get to places
like UConn, Army,
Navy, Maryland and
Rutgers when the
Owls are playing
road games


Although Maryland in 2011 was hard to top, this 2012 game at UConn was the topper.  The Owls won wearing the best uniform combination they have–all Cherry pants, Cherry helmets, broken white stripes down the side, white jerseys.

Brandon McManus won the game with a clutch overtime field goal, setting off the wildest away celebration I’ve ever seen from the Owls.

“We were going to get the ball in the middle of the field and let the best kicker in college football win it for us and that’s just what happened,” head coach Steve Addazio said.
Coach Wayne Hardin used to always say, “run when they expect you to pass and throw when they expect you to run.” A simple but effective philosophy taken from the old shell game. He wasn’t considered an offensive genius for nothing. Temple’s offensive philosophy was just enough to win on that day, but defensive coordinator Chuck Heater turned out to be the genius when he shut out the Huskies in the second half.

“You’re a genius, Chuck,” I said, as we were waiting for the players to board the bus afternoon.

“It’s not me, it’s the boys,” Heater said.

Chuck Heater loved Philadelphia the two years he was here and I thought he did a very good job as DC. He would bike from Center City to the campus every day.

Offensively, Steve Addazio was stubborn but a running back from, ironically, Boston College, saved him that day.

Temple’s Montel Harris had 28 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown, but Daz sent him wide on an ill-advised fourth and inches call which was stopped. On that play, center Sean Boyle was left uncovered and quarterback Chris Coyer could have gone 20 yards on a sneak. Coyer absolved those sins with what I believe is the most clutch throw I’ve ever seen from a Temple quarterback and I’ve seen a lot of clutch throws. A perfectly thrown pass across his body to Jalen Fitzpatrick in the corner of the end zone to send the game into overtime on a tremendously executed two-minute drill.

At the time, I did not know what the harm was in a play-action throw every once in a while on first down, not third, or rolling Coyer out with quick slants to Jalen Fitzpatrick and Ryan Alderman to set up success in the running game. The way that team was constructed, the run can never set up the pass. It’s not going to work. It’s got had the other way around. Things have changed for Temple since, and so has the offensive philosophy.

Different strokes for different folks.

That’s the kind of stuff that has to be locked down in the gameplan as well as bedcheck has been.

Temple was tucked away dreaming of first place in a BCS Conference and, for a day at least, those dreams came true.

The current Owls would be wise to sleep tight in their hotel on this Friday night to avoid the same mistake UConn made in 2012. That, and make sure the playbooks are all accounted for after any morning meetings.

Saturday: Homecoming Prodigals Return


2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: The Day the Owls Were In First Place in a BCS Conference

  1. We Are… The Power 6

  2. crickets chirping

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