We all know the short-term goals every year for Temple football are winning the AAC title and getting the coveted G5 slot in an NY6 bowl.
It hasn’t happened yet, but one AAC title appearance and one AAC championship in the last five years prove that goal is within reach.
Beyond that, though, what?
As Peggy Lee sang once, “Is that all there is?”
Yet one of the recurring themes of this blog is and has been that Temple belongs with the more regional great schools of the East like Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College, Rutgers, West Virginia and Penn State and not with the Tulsa’s and Memphis’s of the world.
Ideally, getting back into a league with those schools would be preferable but playing the same level of football with them should be the minimum objective.
Every major decision Temple makes should be with that eventual long-term goal in mind.
There’s no easy way there from what I can see.
College football now is a cartel of, really, 64 schools who have made it and another 66 who are on the outside looking in and Temple is in the latter group. The window is closing, though, and many of us believe it is already slammed shut.
If Temple drew 70,000 or even 50,000 to every home game over the last decade or so of relative success, there is no doubt in my mind the Owls would have had an invitation after the last stop of the merry-go-round. The TV market is great but the TV market combined with a rabid fan base is an unbeatable combination.
Sadly, with its “commuter school” roots and 20 years of administrative neglect of the football program, the ceiling of fan support is really about the 35,000 who went to see a 6-0 Owl team play Tulane in 2015. There were no Green Wave fans there so that is a pretty good indication of the maximum amount of Temple fans who would support a winner.
How to change this?
One, schedule the regional schools who would be of interest to Temple fans (Maryland, Rutgers, ‘Cuse). Two, be a little more flexible with 2-for-1s until Temple is in a position to command 1-for-1s with everybody. It has 1-1s with Maryland, Georgia Tech, Miami, Rutgers and Boston College. Owls need to get Penn State in here every few years or so and, if 2-for-1s is the way to go, they must be flexible enough to do it. Pitt would also be an attractive in-state foe.
Bucknell is not.
If Temple wants to eventually play with the big boys (and this might be a decade or two down the line), it needs to schedule and beat the big boys on about as regular a basis as Northern Illinois has done over the last six years.
That would get the attention of the rest of the country, their own fan base and maybe a conference looking for both a growing fan base and the largest TV market without a P5 team.
That’s the long game and it can only be played within the administrative offices at the Star Complex.
Wednesday: The Bright Side
Saturday: Measuring Up