There was a lot of talk on Saturday at the various aptly named fun-fest stops about the current and the future of the Temple football program but, to get an appreciation for where we are now, it is a worthwhile endeavor to reflect upon the last decade or so.
There was no one more optimistic than me on that December day in 2005 that Al Golden was hired but if you told me one … ONE … of these things would happen in the span of 10 years I might agree it was possible.
I’d have to say you were crazy.
Consider these five boxes checked:
Beating Penn State: This I would have believed the most. Temple had come close many times before in this series but just never got to the finish line. Getting this monkey off the back, though, might have been the most satisfying of the five boxes we’re checking today. Having a capacity house of 70,000 fans (more Cherry than Blue in the stands) cheering their heads off for something that has not happened since 1941 was awe-inspiring. Having Temple be the team showing mercy to Penn State by taking four knees deep in Nittany Lion territory when it could have scored easily to make it 34-10 made it that much better.
Being the focus of ESPN’s College Football Game Day: Not only were the Owls the focus, but the thousands of cheering Temple fans that filled Independence Mall made it one of the more iconic Game Day shows in that program’s history. Mix in a national TV game between then No. 21-ranked Temple vs. No. 9 ranked Notre Dame that night in 2015 that went down to the last play and that was the topper. If the Owls ever won a game they lost (24-20), that was it. It was the second-highest rated college football game on TV in 2015 and the Philadelphia rating of 18.2 (higher than most Eagles’ games) made it the most watched college football game in Philadelphia of all time on ESPN.
Having the National Defensive Player of the Year: Maybe the most difficult needle to pass through is getting a Temple player a prestigious national player of the year award but, in 2015, Tyler Matakevich squeezed through it by getting both the Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Awards as national defensive player of the year.
Getting Two NFL first-round draft choices: In Mo Wilkerson and Hasson Reddick, the Owls have had two first-round draft choices in a span of five years. More, obviously, to come–maybe this season–but that’s pretty good stuff.
Winning a championship: Winning the AAC is not a national championship, but it’s darn good. The year the Owls won their league, 2016, Navy beat Notre Dame (28-27), Cincinnati beat Purdue (38-20), Memphis beat Kansas (43-7) and Houston handed Oklahoma one of its only two losses (33-23). Temple, though, was the team in that league which hoisted the championship trophy of that league.
Hopefully, there’s more of that kind of hoisting to come.
Tuesday: What’s Next?