All you have to do to figure out the difference between USF and Temple football is look at the national perception.
USF head coach Jeff Scott was hired a full year and a month AFTER Rod Carey yet Scott is listed as No. 1 on the coaches hot seat site and Carey is nowhere to be found.
The perception there, at least from those who run that site is this: Scott’s seat is warm as hell because USF won’t tolerate a poor season coming off a one-win fall and Temple will.
There’s a lot to that because it’s true.
USF has fired two coaches since Al Golden performed CPR on Temple football and Temple has fired zero coaches. Sure, one of the reasons was that it was successful enough not to need that option, but The Rod Carey Error will provide the first real test to Temple’s commitment for fielding a winning team.
If the team loses to USF, it will be magnified.
USF displayed its commitment to football last month when the President announced plans to build a new stadium on campus while Temple, having already approved the funding for its own stadium three years ago, allowed no more than 20 or so neighbors to shut down the project.
Temple appears to have thrown up its hands and given up without even trying alternative methods like moving the site from 15th Street or marketing the new stadium the ” North Philly Tribute Center” and telling the community the stadium will be for them 359 days and the university for just six. Temple already has a large area for athletics at Broad and Master and has met no community opposition there. Maybe moving that to 15th and Norris and putting a stadium closer to Center City could satisfy all involved.
South Florida, like Temple, also has on-campus neighbors who objected to getting a stadium done. USF believes the stadium is the greater good and, once built, the community will realize it as well. Unlike USF, Temple allowed a few loud voices to table the project. USF’s interim president said “we’re going to get this done.” Temple’s new president, Dr. Jason Wingard, deflected a similar question when he said the school was committed to its deal with Lincoln Financial Field.
USF plays in a pro stadium, too, but realizes even a crowd of 20 or 30K rattling around a 70K-seat stadium looks horrible. It looks closer to 10 people than 70,000 and, if the perception is your product is not successful, that’s even more important than whether it actually is. USF has come to that conclusion. At one time Temple did, too. That ship has apparently sailed.
The latest evidence of national perception came on Sunday night when the books set USF as a 3.5-point favorite. That despite the fact that USF entered its game on Saturday with only one touchdown pass on the season and Temple, coming into its game at Cincinnati, had the No. 1 pass defense in the country. (A misleading stat because Temple plays a three-man front and often drops eight into coverage, allowing opposing running games to gouge the Owls on the ground.)
What can be done to turn around that perception?
The only thing that solves anything in big-time college sports: Winning. If Temple isn’t favored to beat the only team it defeated in a one-win season last year, just when will it happen?
Not this year. At least not unless Temple rips off a winning streak starting now.
Temple has to beat USF to begin to change minds, then come back and complete the Florida sweep against UCF at Lincoln Financial Field. It should not be that hard.
The fact that few nationally believe it will happen is in and of itself a big problem for Temple.
Friday: USF Preview