If it seems extra roomy in the stands on Saturday, it won’t be by accident.
Nothing chases away the fragile mostly soft-core Temple fan base faster than a home-opening loss and there’s nothing worse than losing to a hated rival by playing a brand of football Temple fans hate even more.
Geoff Collins’ coaching staff made their beds with a terrible game plan that eschewed the fullback and the running game in favor of a scatterbrained offensive approach that lacked any semblance of an identity. The bed is topped by a mattress of an even more traditional rival for Temple football than Villanova, Rutgers and Penn State put together:
Now they will have to sleep in it for the rest of the season.
Beating Penn State to open the 2015 season opened the gates for the largest single season of attendance in Temple history. One of the next home games, against Tulane, drew over 35,000 fans.
None of them were from Tulane.
Perhaps that was the largest single gathering of Temple fans in history other than the 55,000 who made the trip up the turnpike to see the Owls thrash California at Giants’ Stadium in 1979.
After a loss to Delaware,
Bruce Arians fired his
offensive coordinator and
called for a full-contact
6 a.m. Sunday practice
(less than 24 hours after
the game) on the cement
turf at Geasey Field.
The Owls got the message
and played well the
rest of that season.
Did you see Collins
do anything similar
this week? I didn’t think so
In 2016, losing at home in the opener against Army, the Owls struggled at the gate the rest of the year even though they were champions of a very good league. The fans suspected the team was going to be good that year but, after laying an egg in the home opener, the belief system never materialized. Army wasn’t even a hated foe so the disgust this time could be more impactful at the turnstiles. There is plenty of hate against a school playing at a supposed lower level of football that intentionally sabotaged every advancement Temple athletics tried to make over the past 20 years. Still, the Army game had 35,004 mostly Temple fans who left muttering “same old Temple” and “I won’t be back” and, the next game, the Owls were lucky to have an announced 22,233 (which looked more like 10K).
Expect a similar non-turnout on Saturday (3:30) for Buffalo.
To lose is one thing, but to lose the way Temple did is another. Matt Rhule said it best after capturing the AAC title.
“For the first two years I was at Temple, I was talked into the spread and we didn’t win until I went with my gut which was Power I and run the football. That’s what we did under Al (Golden). That’s what makes Temple TUFF. How do we differentiate ourselves? How do we make ourselves hard to prepare for? Put two backs on the field. Put two tight ends on the field. This is what your roots are. These kids have made themselves really tough. And that’s the only way Temple will ever win–by being a really, really tough football team and establishing that identity.”
Temple fans expect no less than that kind of football and they are getting a kind of Coastal Carolina soft from the current coaches they don’t like it one bit. It is time for the current CEO to put his foot down like the former CEO did and return to the Temple TUFF brand so perfectly described by Rhule above. If not, he’s lost the program already.
No doubt about it, losing to any FCS team is an embarrassment but TEMPLE … Temple … losing to Villanova is worse. Villanova has 30 less scholarship football players, pays its head coach 10 percent of what Temple does and has a practice facility worth $1.7 million (Temple built its practice facility for $10 million in 2001 and added a $7 million annex in 2010). How is it possible that Temple could have all of these advantages and lose to a school that lost to Elon and Rhode Island last year? Temple fans have to be asking just what are they paying for. Damn good questions with few answers. Shouldn’t Temple have been able to recruit the kinds of athletes who could just pound the rock down Villanova’s throats?
So attendance will be the first visible impact of this debacle.
“The season has been permanently tainted by the loss to Villanova,” one of our esteemed posters wrote. “They could go 11-1 and it would still be ruined by that loss.”
Truer words were never penned. If by some miracle, the Owls win the AAC and qualify for a NY6 bowl, do you see any NY6 bowl taking a team that lost to Villanova over the champs of the Mountain West or even the MAC?
I certainly don’t.
Another poster, a guy named John Whiteside, wrote this one Facebook: “After the disgrace last week, ask me to follow you next year. Best of luck saving this season. A disgusted alumni.”
Pretty much that sums up the feeling of a large portion of the Temple fan base and I don’t blame them one bit.
The next negative effect might be recruiting where several recruits have to be asking if this is the coaching staff they want to take them to the next level. A third could be the belief system among the current players, who have way more talent than Villanova but were coached into a loss.
You can love the kids to death and implement all the swag and money downs you want, but it is all a downright mockery if you can’t win on Saturdays. Forget the hash tags about filling the Linc, which seems downright silly in light of the Villanova loss that effectively emptied the Linc for the remainder of the season. Right now, some of these kids have to be wondering if a John Chaney-type 5 a.m. practice where the coach yells at them for two hours would be something they need more than swag. After a loss to Delaware, Bruce Arians fired his offensive coordinator and called for a full-contact 6 a.m. Sunday practice (less than 24 hours after the game) on the cement turf at Geasey Field. The Owls got the message and played well the rest of that season.
Did you see Collins do anything similar this week? I didn’t think so.
This thing has already gone pretty far south with one loss. Add a loss to Buffalo and the whole season can implode in a hurry. Everybody better buckle up the chin straps, forget the hashtags, swag and money downs and just play (and, more importantly, coach) fundamentally sound Temple Owl football.
Friday: Buffalo Preview
Sunday: Game Analysis