Dr. Patrick Kraft
Director of Athletics
Broad Street and Montgomery Avenues
Philadelphia, PA 19122
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.
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.
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.
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