Recently, a hashtag has surfaced on the Temple football twitter page #fillTheLinc18 with photos of several returning Owls in action.
It might have had something to do with seeing that stadium vibrant and exciting and filled to capacity and sound for the Eagles’ season but, while an admirable goal, that ceiling is out of reach.
It should not be, but it is. A university with 40,000 full-time students, 320,000 alumni and 12,500 employees should be able to fill a 70,000-seat stadium but only a small fraction of those numbers are even interested in college football. (We have a great ex-Temple basketball player who posts photos of him and his sons at Eagles’ games every Sunday on Facebook but who I’ve seen at about one Temple football game in the last five season. #Sad.)
A glass ceiling is an Invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached by a section of qualified and deserving individuals.
Temple football, though, does have a real ceiling of interest and it’s a cement one, harder than glass.
The 2016 Owls were set up for a nice season—which they eventually had—but fell flat on their faces before a crowd of 34,005 against Army. On the way out of that game, I heard several dozen fans saying “same old Temple” and “I’m not coming back” and these were the soft core fans, not the hard core ones. There is a reason why Temple always gets good crowds in the opener and it is because the soft core group is giving them one shot. Big wins in the opener usually mean good attendance years; big losses in the opener are almost impossible to recover from.
Getting that soft core wrapped around the hard core should be the goal and build from there.
Wayne Hardin was asked what it would take for Temple to fill Veterans Stadium—their long-demolished home then—on a consistent basis. “We’d have to go undefeated for 10-straight years,” Hardin said.
The comment was just a little tongue-in-check.
The ceiling of Temple football interest is about 35,000 fans and that’s why the university is creating a demand for tickets by building a stadium of exactly that size. So while the hashtag of #halffillTheLinc18 may not be as sexy, it certainly is a lot more realistic and the best the Owls can do until the new Temple Stadium is completed.
Meanwhile, a nice 52-7 win over Villanova would do much more to fill the Linc the rest of the season than another 16-13 one.
Wednesday: Great Expectations