The year 1958 was not a good time to be a student who loved sports at Temple University.
The football team did not start until Oct. 4th and played its scheduled eight-game season. The basketball team, a national powerhouse for years before and after, started two months after that and finished 6-19 under legendary coach Harry Litwack.
This year will be the first time since then that Temple football started in October. It finished 0-8. Among those losses were to Muhlenberg and Scranton and a 35-0 loss to Lafayette.
We can only hope and pray that things turn out the opposite way this year. There are several signs that they will, particularly on offense where they have experience at quarterback, offensive line, wide receivers and running backs. The 1958 team had none of that.
Of course, there was no pandemic back then.
The No. 1 song was “It’s All in the Game” by Tommy Edwards. It was No. 1 for three weeks in October.
Army was No. 1 in the country as late as Oct. 18 and that was the last time Army was ranked No. 1. The next season, a coach named Wayne Hardin took over the head job at Navy and the Midshipmen then beat their rivals five of the last six years.
Army finished third in the final poll, behind eventual winner LSU and No. 2 Iowa.
Why did Temple start on Oct. 4? We could not find a reason other than the university did not feel football was a good return on the investment. Pete Stevens, a former great player in better days, was the head coach and the season was part of a 21-game losing streak. They started the season even later, Oct. 5, in 1957, and did not play a September game in the late 1950s until the next year, 1959 (Sept. 26).
The Owls face a number of disadvantages starting this late because Navy and the other teams they face have played with game speed and there is no way to duplicate that in practice.
Still, the Owls have to know that virtually the only play Air Force ran in a 40-7 win over Navy was a fullback dive. Can they duplicate that? Doubtful, since they don’t have a fullback but they can simulate it by running Ray Davis left, right and (particularly) up the middle and it may be enough.
Here’s what Navy cornerback Cameron Kinley said about the loss:
That’s pretty much where we stand. Navy did a nice job stopping the more conventional offense that Tulane had. It did a terrible job stopping an offense with a fullback. Maybe Tayvon Ruley (6-0, 216) can step into that role for a few plays this week but Temple under Rod Carey has not shown that it can improvise and adjust to the weakness of the competition.
This week would be a good place to start.
As Tommy Edwards might say, it’s all in the game.
Friday: Our Long Wait Is Over
Sunday: Game Analysis