Open Letter to Pat Kraft: Honor TU’s Moon Landing


Dr. Patrick Kraft

Director of Athletics

Temple University

Broad Street and Montgomery Avenues

Philadelphia, PA 19122


Dear Pat,

In the next few days, you are going to be hearing a lot about the 50-year anniversary of the Moon Landing (July 20, 1969).

What you probably won’t be hearing about is Temple football’s Moon Landing, which came in 40 years ago on December 15, 1979, so we will fill you in here.

While it might have been technically harder for man to set foot on the moon, getting Temple to win a bowl game certainly is a feat that needs to be remembered and honored at some home game this season.


That’s because while, arguably, the quest for the Moon was really only talked about realistically after the Russians launched the satellite Sputnick (1957), Temple football had a similar quest to win a bowl game since they became a thing in the late 1920s.

Temple came close before, losing the first Sugar Bowl to Tulane (who could have figured that school would ever become a conference foe later?), 20-14, in 1934, the Owls did not even a chance for greatness until 49 years later.

So what took the United States less than a decade to accomplish as outlined in JFK’s 1961 Rice University commencement address, Temple football was looking to do really since 1934–an accomplishment that took about as long as the moon anniversary we are approaching.


“Even after Hardin landed at Temple, Belichick continued to pay close attention to the coach’s methods. In 1979, when the Owls took on heavily-favored Cal in the Garden State Bowl at Giants Stadium, Belichick was in attendance. The Giants special-teams coach at the time, Belichick sat with then Giants assistant Ernie Adams, who now works alongside Belichick as the football research director for the Patriots. “The pair of young and talented football minds were completely baffled as they watched Hardin toy with Cal’s linebackers, who were taught to read the guards in front of them.” _ Phil Perry, NBC Sports

The Owls did not get a sniff of a bowl after the Sugar until 1979, when they dismantled California, 28-17, before 40,207 fans at the Garden State Bowl. One of those in attendance that day was Bill Belichick, who took copiously detailed notes about how Wayne Hardin outcoached Cal’s Roger Theder.

Yet, as far at least a half-dozen members of that team we’ve contacted know, nothing is planned to commemorate that team this fall.

So far.

Plenty of time to rectify that and plenty of representatives of that team are available, tailgating in the far corner opposite the K Lot and across the main entrance.

By all metrics, the 1979 team has proven to be Temple’s best team ever. The 10-2 Owls finished 17th in both final polls (UPI and AP) and lost only to Pitt (10-2) and Penn State (22-7). Pitt was in the top 10 when it needed a late field goal to beat Temple. Imagine if the Owls were able to scrounge up 17 more points that year and finish 12-0? It would have meant a likely national title.


In football.

National champions.

That’s pretty heady stuff and getting some of these guys together again in front of the fans–at least at halftime of the Oct. 12 Homecoming game against Memphis–should be on your end of the summer to-do list. Just roll out the guys at halftime, give them a plaque, and roll the 1979 highlights on the Jumbotron.

It’s the least they deserve.

Monday: Ed Foley is Gone But Not Forgotten


8 thoughts on “Open Letter to Pat Kraft: Honor TU’s Moon Landing

  1. Thanks for supporting the 1979 Bowl Team! I was a Temple Junior at the time and drove up to cold Giants stadium with a few classmates that day for the game. What a great memory and one that should be celebrated!

  2. It’d be more than a bit late in the offseason to try to conger a Cal On Field Reunion for 2019, but, I feel there’d have to be a good policy to at least slate a Regional/National/International Opponent a la Turkey Day if the American/Big East coliqually went up in smoke.

  3. Brett Diersen for Ed Foley? Carey must have a lot of confidence in this guy. Did Carey put friendship before proven performance?

    How could you expect anyone to exceed Foley’s record as Temple’s Special Teams Coordinator…, this is another head scratch.., the real truth of the matter may never be known…,

    well, Diersen best bring a few recruits; and, special insight for Temple vs SMU in October

    • I don’t like that quote from Ed Foley: “I’ll be working for Matt Rhule, a guy I can trust.” Hmm. How can anyone take this as “I don’t trust Rod Carey?” My first red flag on Rod. I thought Pat Kraft made it clear to keep Foley as an assistant. Seems like the guy was dicked around to be a paper-pusher. I don’t like it one bit.

      • Sad to see Foley go. He was a very friendly guy who proved he was Temple Tuff. Even though he was demarginalized, still a tough call to leave because he has teenagers in upper grade school and high school. Sad to see him go. One thing though. It was pretty amazing that he was able to keep his job through so many coaching changes because most new guys clean house. Maybe there was just a personality clash between them that caused the break up.

      • More on this in the post tomorrow. Carey’s got some, as Dezi Arnez might say, ‘splaining to do. Sad to see Ed go indeed. You can say that again.

  4. I am hoping to see our team wearing retro uniforms like the ones the Owls wore during that Garden State Bowl championship season at this years Homecoming game.. This team NEEDS and DESERVES to be honored..

  5. Pingback: Game Day Minus-1: A Special Tribute – Temple Football Forever

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