Dante’s Inferno: Temple TUFF and Temple SOFT



Every time someone mentions that the Temple University football program should add a questionable character to the fold, I think of people like my new favorite incoming Temple player, Dante Burke, and one of my old favorites, Tyler Matakevich.

Burke befriended a few older people in an “old folks’ home” adjacent to his Virginia high school. He didn’t do it for fame or fortune, just did it to expand his horizons and become a better person.

Unbeknownst to Burke, one of the old folks he made a special bond with was a distant relative of a Virginia sportswriter who penned this remarkable story last week.

That brings us back to suggestions of the Owls grabbing a guy who allegedly (although there was damning video evidence) robbed a WAWA and dropped from the recruiting rolls at Penn State or a guy who had problems getting along with teammates at two Big 10 schools, the latest Rutgers, and is now looking elsewhere.

No thanks.


Geoff Collins not only has won more than he lost in his short time at Temple, but he has forged a special locker room. Good guys who are good players. Driven guys who want to succeed and are not going to let silly distractions get in the way.

Mixing in a bad apple here and there probably is not worth the effort.

Matakevich not only went from being unrecruited by everyone else to being the consensus national defensive player of the year in 2015. For all of the great tackles and five interceptions Tyler had that year, his most impressive move might have been the one he made to another old folks’ home when he gave then 97-year-old Temple grad James Woodhouse a few Temple items and exchanged war stories with the last player who was alive in a Temple win over Penn State.

“Tyler, that visit with Mr. Woodhouse was the greatest thing ever,” I told him at a post-game tailgate.

Mr. Woodhouse isn’t around anymore but the memories of that visit will last forever on You Tube.

“Thanks,” Tyler said. “It was an honor to have met him.”

“Tyler, he’s only saying that because we’re a lot closer to that guy’s age than we are to yours,” John Belli said.

All three of us had a good belly laugh that day.

Or a “Belli” laugh.

Now, at least one other player with a Tyler Matakevich mindset is joining the program. Temple TUFF mixed in with Temple SOFT is never a bad thing.

Pardon me if my favorite of the incoming class is selected already. I hope he has a million tackles on the field but he’s already a success off of it and, in the end, that’s more important.

Monday: Bombs Over Where?

Wednesday: The Latest Sign of the G5 Apocalypse 

Friday: Scoreboard Watching


13 thoughts on “Dante’s Inferno: Temple TUFF and Temple SOFT

  1. Lets keep players like Ahmir Mitchell out of Temple’s locker room. Sounds like he would a ‘cancer ‘ on a team filled with good characters. BesidesTemple has good depth at the WR position.

    • We already had had our fair share of cancer in the locker room thanks to a certain star WR who got his sing digit stripped from him.

      Ahmir Mitchell has star-talent, but we don’t need the extra baggage that comes with the 4 stars.

  2. Thanks for the mention. Matakevich is a class act. His appearance at the former players’ tail gate just cemented that for the ex players because it showed that he understood what a big deal it was for those players on the team in the 70’s who three times came so close to beating PSU. I would not accept the Big ten player because he may be irredeemable. The high school kid is another story given that it appears that he was goaded by his older brother, who worked at the place that was robbed, to participate in the crime. No one would debate that B. Pierce worked out quite well. Also, the kid must have a good record given that PSU offered him a scholarship.

    • I think PSU offered him the schollie before the WAWA thing and then pulled it a week or two before signing day when the bleep hit the fan. Even if his brother convinced him to be an accessory, it showed incredibly bad judgment. Agree that the Rutgers’ kid

      • From what I’ve gleaned Ahmir has All-B1G talent with a 5th-string attitude. His talent might be tempting but I think those of you who have concerns about detrimental effects on the locker room would be spot-on, especially the potential influence on younger players.

        Joe P.

      • Thanks for the input, Joe. Pretty much the consensus of this board.

    • Of course he made an awful decision to participate, but that’s what kids do all of the time. Their thought processes are prone to making irrational and sometimes inexplicable decisions. That’s why there is a separate juvenile court. If the kid’s case is sent to juvenile court, it means that someone thinks he made a huge mistake and is redeemable. The only reason his case is in adult court currently is because of a twenty year old law that automatically charges kids over sixteen as adults if they committed certain crimes with a gun. Currently, he is awaiting a ruling on a motion to send the case to juvenile court. I have no idea whether he is going to be a good citizen at Temple but just think that the Owls cannot forego signing a kid ranked 170th in the country if he becomes available to sign.

      • Kent State, UTEP, or Texas State would be best for the the Alleged Wawa Bandito. The young man made a big mistake and needs to move away from his current group of friends. Hawaii would be a perfect, but Temple is too close to home and many more Wawas.

  3. opportunity to connect w/North Philly.. take a so called bad kid and turn him into a great kid.., everybody deserves a second chance…,

    • Mike, the best way I could describe AM’s attitude during his time at Rutgers I guess would be Vince Vaughn’s RB character in Rudy. On the field multiple RU beat guys basically stated he was at least at Leonte Carroo’s level or possibly even better…but the fact that he went to 2 different B1G programs and basically never lasted longer than 2-3 semesters with said talent says something. I don’t think it was any one big thing, but a bunch of mild to moderate things that added up to a maladaptive pattern. We even had his older brother here last year as a grad transfer and he was reportedly loved by the team…same could not be said for AM. There were also reports this spring that a number of younger WR have a seemingly fresh, healthier attitude since AM was dismissed…I also wonder if he ended up at TU would he try to ‘big time’ you (basically act like everyone there was beneath him and you should be lucky to have a player of his caliber) the same way Nate Robinson did to us in 2004 (Nate was a Miami commit at DT that ended up here and lasted 1 season before Schiano dismissed him; IIRC Nate later admitted himself he had a terrible attitude at Rutgers and thought he was ‘better’ than the team. Over the years Schiano endorsed just about every one of his players that were either drafted, signed or had tryouts for the NFL…except Nate, so he must have made one heck of a sting negative impression on Schiano at that time).

      …regarding the Philly kid who PSU cut loose, I can agree that people can deserve second chances but I agree with the posters who think he needs to get away. A change in scenery doesn’t always fix the situation but due to the nature of that circumstance I just don’t see that turning out well if he stayed lival local.

      Joe P.

  4. Some people can learn and change but some never can. Agree John and KJ, give the kid another chance but if he screws it up again, he’s outta here.

    • Matt Brown, Robbie Anderson, etc all had so-called issues…, lost opportunity is one of the things in life that don’t come back.., give him a one screw-up and you’re done chance…,

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