Speculation is running rampant about where Temple’s football team will end up in a bowl game.
The Inquirer’s Mike Jensen said it best: “Temple vs. Baylor in the Armed Forces Bowl. Make it happen.”
That would be the ideal storyline, maybe of this entire bowl slate outside of the NY6 games. Matt Rhule versus his old school, versus one of best friends, a guy who he helped get the Temple job. Who would Matt Rhule’s son, Bryant, root for? (Hint: he watches all of the Temple games on TV and runs to his dad jumping up and down when Temple wins.) Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth-largest TV market media, would slobber over this storyline, as would the fifth (Dallas-Fort Worth).
Other than that, the only matchups that appeal to me are Temple vs. Miami (the real one, not the fake one, Independence Bowl) or Temple vs. Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. Temple vs Georgia Tech? That’s so next year, not this one. Temple vs. Vanderbilt? Been there, won that (37-7). Temple vs. Boston College is out because bowls do not do mulligans of that year’s regular-season games. Temple vs. Penn State? The Lions are headed to a NY6 bowl.
The idea of a Baylor-Temple matchup has been pooh-poohed by some party poopers (“not likely,” according to a source earlier this week). Yet it makes too much sense for the powers-that-be (Baylor AD, Temple AD, Big 12, AAC). Good storylines mean good ratings.
Bill Bradshaw, the Temple AD in 2009, made an ideal matchup happen and Pat Kraft can do the same.
The Eagle Bank Bowl, then in Washington, D.C., had no affiliation with the PAC-12 or the MAC, but Temple and UCLA became partners there thanks largely to Bradshaw. Then, as now, the matchup called for a military school to play an ACC team but, when Army failed to upset Armed Forces Bowl-bound Navy, the EBB committee turned to the “most local” eligible team, Temple. Bradshaw wanted a high-profile opponent and convinced the MAC and EBB officials to help Temple get the Bruins instead of an ACC foe. UCLA, which was 3-6 at one time that season, finished with three-straight wins and became eligible.
Bradshaw wanted high-profile and UCLA fit that order and “made it happen” by some backroom swapping. Bradshaw delivered the bowl 20,000 needed fans.
Baylor fits that order now for Temple now. It won’t be easy, but Kraft in concert with commissioner Mike Aresco should be thinking of ways for the AAC to swap bowls and make backroom deals to make an Armed Forces Bowl or Frisco Bowl game with Baylor happen.
Even though Temple has been bowl eligible the last few seasons, there was never a celebration of facing an opponent like the one at the Liacouras Center when the name “UCLA” came up on the TV screen next to Temple at a live screening of the bowl selection show in 2009. The place erupted.
Toledo? FIU? Even Wake Forest?
Not so much. More like yawns than yells.
Baylor would cause the place to erupt on Sunday night.
As Mike Jensen would say, make it happen.
Hopefully, Pat Kraft is trying to make it happen for Temple in 2018 the same way Bradshaw made it happen in 2009.
Saturday: Temple football’s Version of Allen Iverson
Monday: Bowl Selection Reaction