A Happy Ending

Sometime after Temple did not bother to challenge an obvious touchdown by Isaiah Wright at the end of the half, a long-time Owl fan sent this message on social media:

“This is sad.”

The fan was not referring to Temple eschewing a challenge and taking a field goal there, he was talking about the utter non-competitiveness of UConn.

My response was swift and definitive:

“Happy for me. Any time the good guys have a lot and the bad guys have a little, it is a great game.”

On Saturday afternoon, the good guys wore the white hats and won, 57-7.

makfenton

This now becomes my second-favorite TU-UConn game (by a point).

It was reminiscent of an almost identical score in 2001 when Makonnan Fenton took a kickoff for 94 yards and a touchdown in a 56-7 win over a UConn team that was pegged to replace Temple in the Big East.

Wright went six more yards than Fenton did on his kickoff return, also the pivotal play (if there can be one in a 57-7 win).

You can have all the last-second exciting back-and-forth wins you want, give me a good Temple 57-7 win over that kind of excitement any Saturday of the week.

While the 56-7 win was a vindication that the Big East was getting rid of a far more competitive program for a less-competitive one, the 57-7 win becomes my favorite for reasons that extend far beyond that single point.

aacchart

It vindicates the Owls as one of the premier programs in the stepchild of the Big East, the AAC, and comes at the end of a five-year bowl-eligible run for Temple

Really, since 2001, the odyssey in this space I’ve always wanted for Temple football is respect and the Owls now have that on a global level. Be bowl eligible every year, win a championship every few years, have everyone say what a tough team Temple is and that’s all we has Temple fans can ever hope for on a regular basis.

narducci

In between pounding 90 wpm on the laptop and making a post-game video, Marc Narducci got this capture of Anthony Russo hugging Toddy Centeio after Toddy touchdown scored his first TU touchdown and posted it on his twitter feed.

It certainly beats the 20-game losing streak and (mostly) 20 years of losing seasons that existed between 1989 and 2009. (Only the 7-4 team of 1990 broke what would have been a 20-year losing skein.)

More importantly, a culture of toughness has been established that existed once under Wayne Hardin and Bruce Arians and was only was later given recessitation by Al Golden.

Fair to great hirings by Bill Bradshaw (Golden, Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule) and one by Pat Kraft (Geoff Collins) kept that ball rolling. That ball looks like it will continue to roll for the next two years because the current sophomore and junior classes appear to be at least the equal of any of the best similar groups of the Bradshaw coaches. The Owls have a great quarterback, Anthony Russo, for the next two seasons and seem to have a succession plan in place after he leaves with Toddy Centeio and Trad Beatty waiting in the wings.

It could all blow up if the Owls do something stupid and follow the blueprint of bad coaching hirings established by, say, UConn but having a ex-Big 10 football player like Kraft doing the hiring probably precludes that. Collins seems to fit this school well, even if his offensive coordinator does not.

We learned a lot about the Owls this year. Mostly, that sad beginnings can lead to happy endings if the culture prevails.

There’s one more chapter in this 2018 book to be written and, if the Owls are able to beat a Power 5 foe (I really don’t care where) and hoist another bowl trophy, that would be an even happier ending than the one that closed the regular season.

Baylor in the Armed Forces Bowl would be my heavy lean (negotiate a trade with Army by putting it in the Birmingham Bowl) and hopefully the crafty Kraft is working on that now.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner: Poetic Justice

Thursday: How The West Was Won

Saturday: Temple’s Version of Allen Iverson

Monday: Bowl Selection Analysis

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “A Happy Ending

  1. Great article on the on-field progress of our program but I think it’s remiss not to point out the progress made in the classroom. The 2016-2017 NCAA APR has the Owls in the 80th-90th percentile for football. This is a testament to the schools administration and players focus on learning and part of a virtuous cycle of winning. #winningisanattitude

  2. Quite a difference from the time Owls were docked scholarships due to failure to maintain minimum APR rate (end of the Bobby Wallace Error). Golden cleaned that up and, in the process, got rid of a lot of talent that could have helped in the w/l department (Daryl Robinson, the running back from North catholic, comes to mind as well as Junior Galette and the kid from Central Bucks South who was a great running back who I forget his name but fell in with some bad company)

  3. a few thoughts, and I apologize for doubting the temple ability to beat the point spread of 30+.
    Very Happy to See Mr Nutile QB go out with a great game.
    Anybody out there wanna see Randy Edsall coach here some day ?
    I was looking for UCONN sports news for his being Fired.
    What happened to him and his program, unbelievable.
    An 8 win season is OK after all, and its what we have to offer the Bowl group.
    I want a game nearby in DC or Navy area where I can drive to, if so we will go for sure.

  4. Collins to North Carolina
    Fran Brown to Temple

  5. Temple should have received a vote in the coaches poll.., the L to Nova is haunting…,

    Big credit to CC for playing freshmen, ensures a certain level of success for next year.., it would be exciting to see another two or three freshman come in next year and start..,

    the Number One Criterion for picking the bowl game is to play a team you can beat, a team that you match up well against; screw the TV ratings! Temple struggles against mobile and dynamic QBs..,

    2019 team needs depth at RB and DT. the best news about 2019 is 7 home games! and, three of the four toughest opponents (UCF, Memphis, and GT) are home games..,

    WIN THE BOWL GAME! …, this team has an outside shot at accomplishing two of the Big Three: conference championship, bowl win, and Top 25 finish

    Going forward the success of TUFB should be measured every year against the Big Three, we are at that point in the evolution of TUFB.

  6. I can’t see the Armed Forces Bowl selection committee giving up a top 25 Army team. With what could they possibly entice Army or the Bowl to do so? I’m hoping for the Military Bowl as a realistic possibility for the Owls. And against a P5 team. The higher ranked the P5 team the better. As outlined above, TU has been one of the top 4 teams in the AAC over the last few years. They’re 7-1 in conference play and 8-2 since the horrible start. The AAC should look for every possible matchup with a P5 for its best teams. And at this point, the Owls, are what, 3rd maybe even2nd best team in the AAC given their in conference play. If Kraft is trying to do a deal, it should either be the Military or Pinstripe Bowls with the negotiating chip being 10 to 12k TU fans that might go to those games.

  7. As I’ve been saying for years, the next round of tv contracts are going to hit sports like an atomic bomb. The days of ballooning fees are over and all colleges are going to be affected. Don’t be surprised if the next round of college conference jumping results in geographic reconfigurations to lower travel expenses. https://pjmedia.com/trending/espn-loses-another-2-million-subscribers/

    • If it’s an atomic bomb for CFB, it will probably be a nuclear bomb for MLB and possibly the NBA. If I go into a sports bar, I’ll take an interest in most CFB and NFL games. College basketball much less so unless March Madness which I love. And unless it’s the Sixers and Phillies, I really don’t pay any attention to MLB or the NBA no matter who the teams. And I know I don’t speak for all sports fans, but I think I’m pretty typical of sports bar patrons in that regard.

      So I guess I’m somewhat hopeful for CFB not to take as bad of a hit. Even though the P5 conferences get the lion’s share of TV money, I’m guessing schools like Temple need the TV revenue they currently get to keep the football program going.

  8. Georgia Tech is the last team Temple should play in a bowl game. AVOID GT at all costs.

    Play a team we can beat.

  9. Vandy would be a tie breaker game tho, plus SEC, P5, all that and it was 4 years ago. Agree with KJ’s assessments. We need a P5 opponent and one we can beat

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