Five Painful Throwbacks

One of the most revealing things about knowing the players of past Temple football teams is talking to them about the games that got away.

To a man, they don’t talk about the victories as they do about the defeats.

Mostly, gut-wrenching ones like the current Owls suffered the last two weeks, the ones that rip your heart out and should have never happened due to one coaching blunder or an officiating mistake.

This space today is dedicated to those guys who played in these games and our original intent was to rank them on the pain meter from less painful to most painful but, after taking a look at them, they are all pretty much equal in the sense that they should have never happened and will always be the ones that got away.


1996: Pitt 53, Temple 52

Holding a 52-33 lead with 2:44 left in the game, then Temple coach Ron Dickerson elected to go for it on fourth and two instead of punting at midfield. Pitt got the stop, scored quickly, then successfully executed a pair of onsides’ kicks to pull it out. After the game, Dickerson submitted his resignation, saying, “my players deserve a smarter coach than me.” Resignation was not accepted by the powers-that-be.

2007: UConn 22, Temple 17

Replays showed Bruce Francis clearly caught the ball on a pass off a reverse with one foot down in the back of the end zone to give Temple the lead with 12 seconds left in the game, but the MAC officials waved it off and a replay by Big East official Jack Kramer upheld the call on the field. All of the sports television network commentators said Temple was jobbed out of a win but that was small consolation to the Owls.


Alex Derenthal consoles Kee-Ayre Griffin after fumble.

2007: Navy 33, Temple 27 (OT)

With 17 seconds a playing a triple option team with no timeouts, second-year head coach Al Golden eschewed the punt and went for the first down on a fourth-and-one in his own territory. The late Kee-Ayre Griffin fumbled the handoff, it was picked up by a Navy linebacker, who ran into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown as time expired. Had the punt been called, Navy would have had to go the length of the field with 17 seconds and no time outs. Probably wasn’t going to happen and Griffin probably wasn’t to blame as much as the decision not to punt the ball.

2008: Buffalo 30, Temple 28

On the final play of the game, Drew Wiley heaved a pass almost as far as he could throw it and it landed in the hands of Nathan Roosevelt for a 34-yard touchdown. That negated a heroic game by Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele, who did all that he humanly could in throwing what pretty much everyone thought was the game-winning touchdown to Bruce Francis with a minute left. That turned out to be too much time left on the clock. Incredibly, that was one of three close losses that year that made the difference between Temple being 5-7 and 8-4.

2017: Army 31, Temple 28 (OT)

This game might have been the most galling because Temple got a first down at the 1 with 3:16 left in the third quarter and, instead of pounding a tailback (Ryquell Armstead)  Army could not stop behind a fullback (Nick Sharga) who his head coach called “the best  in the country” the Owls inexplicably went to a shotgun formation on first down and got zero points out of that drive. Temple’s entire identity in back-to-back 10-win seasons was built around pounding the ball at the goal line and the Owls beat themselves by not being true to the Temple TUFF mantra. Temple would have been sitting on a 14-point lead, not a seven-point one, when Army hit a pass with one second left to send the game into overtime. That game wasn’t decided on the last play of overtime as much as it was when the head coach did not exert enough influence over his rogue offensive coordinator late in the third quarter.

Saturday: Around The AAC



18 thoughts on “Five Painful Throwbacks

  1. Mike, there are at least 20 more games you could add to this. Here are some: The PSU games in 75 and 76 and the Pitt game in 79, the Fordham, UCF, and Rutgers games in 2013, the PSU game in 1985 when Arians failed to tell his punt returners either leave the ball alone or call fair catch, the first Villanova game at the Linc and the one lost on a last-second field goal, the Maryland game at Franklin Field when the Owls couldn’t score four times from the one and on and on and on. It’s tough being an Owl fan that’s for sure.

    • “It’s hard to win at Temple” has been the mantra since I graduated in ’79…., why?

      1. BOT support for the program has been inconsistent at best.
      2. Temple can’t figure how to cut the ball and chain called The Vet and Lincoln Bad Financial Field. No other program in all of college football starts each season so far in the red before the first kick-off.
      3. Temple keeps the bad coaches for too long and lets the good coaches go too soon.

      This site focuses on the ground tactical level at the expense of missing the strategic situation we find ourselves in. We can moan and cry all day long.., success on the field will be atypical absent of COMMITMENT at the BOT level.

      The answer? Lobby the state representatives and state senators who vote on the Temple budget, and lobby the PA State Board of Education., get influential Temple Alumni involved..,

      The TUFB program is a kite chasing the wind without direction.., our kite crashes and stays broken for extended periods of time – that is the real normal for TUFB, check the program history.

      • kj hit the nail on the head in so many points, especially No. 3. To me, it’s much more important to replace these coaches with guys who have done it as a head coach somewhere else before and not have Temple pay for on-the-job training. If Collins is not going to bring in big-time coordinators (I’m talking Heater and Loeffler levels here), cut the losses and fire him after the season.

      • KJ, good points especially about the BOT support. I do think the tactical level on the field is as important as the strategic point you bring up in the overall scheme. Let say the admin is able to go forward with an OCS in the next couple of years, if the on the field performance stays in a cycle of a couple of good years, followed by 2 or 3 mediocre years “rebuilding” and on the job training for the latest Temple transient HC I still don’t think Temple will present an attractive package to the P5 when the next and most likely last for a long time, conference re-alignment comes around. Look at Houston and UCF, in the past 10 years prior to 2017 they have had 2 and 3 losing season respectively and after each on have bounced back to a bowl season. I really have my doubts this staff will accomplish that next year. Both teams have been ranked in the final top 25 twice over that stretch and both have managed to put together more than 2 winning seasons in a row. I think there are a number of TU fans who think to expect this kind of performance is unrealistic. at least based on the FB page. Long run unless what you point out is addressed TU football will be doomed to whatever the G5 morphs into which will be kind of like “FCS+”. Also, I believe it would only be a matter of time before the P5 looks at making the basketball tourney an all P5 affair as well.

      • That’s why I would love to see an alum get the job here….Todd Mcnair, Todd Bowles, Keith Armstrong, etc. They know what TU is about, know what they’re getting into, etc. Plus, they don’t need to use TU as a stepping stone….they’ve held high profile coaching jobs. Get someone like that in here for the next 20 years or so. C’mon Temple!

    • Forgot the embarrassing loss to lowly Idaho in 2013!

      2013 was not a good year .

      • I would have put Idaho on there but to qualify for this special list it would have to be on or near the last play of the game and taken pretty much a sure win out of that column and put it into the other. Fordham would qualify a lot more than Idaho under that criteria.

    • I do agree there are many more. PSU 75 and 76 would qualify right at the top. RU in 2013 because of the 4th and inches call. The first Nova game at the Linc because of regional perception (but that did not have the added element of a final or near-final play of the game deciding it). People say our fans are not great but given all of the disproportionate heartbreak they’ve had to endure, I maintain they have to be the best in the NCAA,

      • Another near win I recall sir. Around 2002 at Penn’s Franklin Field vs Miami, a great game lot’s of ‘ Souf Philly ‘ Miami Fans for Vinnie Testa if I recall correctly. Temple had the ball on about the Miami 3 yard , less than 2 minutes near end of game, score and we WIN. Of course we fumbled to F-NN ball on the 3 trying to score the win.
        That one sticks in my mind as one of the worst or most unlucky.
        BTW I do not curse the memory of Bobby Wallace. I saw the Big East cutting our Temple because we were close to winning big over the MONEY Teams. WE were close in many game for a few years under Wallace.
        Can’t have that can we ????
        That’s how I see it, we were a threat to their stacked deck of money makers.
        Still Love QB Walter Washington, almost beast PSU if you recall.
        Some please reply to my memory lane here thanks.

  2. Here’s on of the numerous others….1991.
    West Virginia – 10
    Temple – 9
    We were coming off of a 7-4 season in 90 and this was the first year in the Big East. We already lost to Alabama, Pitt, Clemson and Penn State.
    We were desperate for a W and we had WVU down 9-3 late in the game. We punted to James Jett, the punt team had him on the sidelines and he regained his balance, reversed all the way across the field and takes it in for 6.
    Jerry Berndt collapsed while heading into the locker room after the game. Terrible loss!

  3. Mike, I fear we could be adding to this list over the next 5 years if there aren’t some changes in this staff.
    I have to apologize, looks like you could have used some support in you last couple of back and forth discussion on the FB page with the “rebuilding, give this coach a chance, didn’t people says the same about Rhule” and on and on. At this I have had my fill of that line of thinking. Seem to be a number of folks over there who like to be big fish in a small pond so to speak

    • The folks who use Rhule as an example for a coach succeeding in his third year intentionally forget how rare that is especially in TU football history over the last 35 years. It’s true for a lot of other teams as well. Even Arians did not make great progress. Rhule and Golden were the only coaches to have significantly better teams by their third year and Golden had the benefit of playing against weaker teams. The two things that will foretell if Collins can get better is 2018 recruiting and if he fires his coordinators and readopts Temple Tuff football. If he can’t hold onto the kids who have orally committed and doesn’t employ what Rhule did, he and TU football are done.

      • These coaches that come from psu, fla, north alabama, etc have no idea what temple tuff is, they dont know what it takes to get a kid to come to north philly for 5 years…..takes a certain mindset. The coaches are in culture shock themselves which takes an adjustment period, let alone what kind of kids they have to go after. That’s why they need a former player in my mind.

  4. Yeah, that list of almosts, of heartbreaking losses is why many of us have had it up to here or are so used to it it just doesn’t matter anymore. We ARE the best fans (even my wife says so) to still be hanging around! At this point we just want to see some sustained success, even if modest. The BOT has spent some money recently (too late) but hasn’t forced necessary changes when needed, to have sustained success. But, what the hell, go Owls! See what I mean?

  5. Seriously considering not going into the stadium for the first time in 40 years at the Navy game and enjoying the tailgate with my friends if the police will allow us. When I say this, you know how disillusioned and disgusted I am at this play-calling that is doing a disservice to our fans and, more importantly, the kids that go to war for Temple.

  6. Watched two teams tonight-Eastern Michigan and Oregon State-with loser tales that rivals TU’s, Both teams led the whole game and lost essentially on the last plays of the games. Both teams made mistakes that losers make and there were dubious coaching decisions. At least we’re not alone in our misery.

  7. Yeah, and too many of those losses were because of bad calls/non-calls by the refs. I recently commented on about Temple getting screwed far too often and someone else mocked the idea comparing it to bad decisions (like a stadium) by Temple’s higher ups. Some of that may be true, but Temple does get screwed it seems at a higher % than most other schools – from calls in games to deals with Lurie. Oh well, beat Navy Collins and maybe we’ll start believing – but skeptically…..

  8. Watching Don Bosco v. Bergen Catholic and both OCs are better than Patenaude. It’s so sad.

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