If Pat Kraft does for Penn State what he did for Temple, Nittany Lion fans can expect something like this:
Adding teams Colgate and New Hampshire on the schedule in the future and hiring someone from the Midwest with no knowledge of Pennsylvania or what makes that program tick to replace James Franklin when he jumps to the Redskins, err, Commanders, in a couple of years.
Maybe it will be another Indiana grad. That hire says things like “who cares, he’s a kicker” and “where I’m from, we don’t say we’re tough, we just are” and Penn State becomes a bottom-feeder in the Big 10.
Kraft was a nice guy and probably the most approachable athletic director Temple has had since the great Gavin White.
Unlike White, though, Kraft lobbed a few grenades over his shoulder on the way out the McGonigle Hall/Star Complex door that pretty much did a number on Temple sports.
The Rod Carey hiring definitely is one. Maybe Aaron McKie but that’s to be determined. McKie must make the NCAA tournament next year or be shown the door. He doesn’t seem to have the same fire in his belly for winning that his coach, John Chaney, did. Give me 25 wins in 2022-23 and I will like his belly just fine.
No Kraft grenade has done more damage, though, than the football scheduling one.
Twelve years ago Temple played a competitive football game on national television with UCLA and lost arguably only because its star player, Bernard Pierce, could not play in the second half.
Now UCLA will join the Big 10 in a couple of years as will its major rival, USC.
When all is said and done, it looks like we are headed for two superconferences, the SEC and Big 10 and there is a lot of jockeying to get there.
UCLA and USC didn’t get there by playing FCS teams, although an argument can be made P5 teams can afford to play FCS teams more than G5 teams can.
Temple has to play the P5 and beat them in order to get into that exclusive club. It is never going to get there playing FCS teams.
Tough task, but nothing worth achieving is ever easy.
There have been too many cupcakes on the Temple schedule in the past and the blame largely can be put on one man: Pat Kraft.
There is one on the schedule this year: Lafayette. Arguably, two, if you include UMass (and I would). There was one on the championship year: Stony Brook. There was one last year.
We’ve written this in this space from the jump: Temple has no business playing Stony Brook, Wagner, or Lafayette.
Ever. Period, end of story.
Next year, Norfolk State is on the schedule and, in 2026, Rhode Island is on the schedule.
Temple has no business playing those teams, either.
If Arthur Johnson wants to do something now that would benefit Temple football in the future, he would pick up the phone today and engineer a swap with Lafayette that would enable Temple to play a Power 5 school. “Hey, Lafayette, we are not here,” Johnson should say.
That won’t happen because the 2022 schedule is set in stone but Norfolk State and Rhode Island can be easily swapped for Power 5 opponents.
I’ve never understood Temple scheduling FCS teams. This is what I’ve been told: “Mike, we’ve got to schedule at least one FCS team every year in order to make a bowl game.”
Nobody loves Temple going to bowl games more than me, but if Temple needs to schedule an FCS team in order to make a bowl game, just drop football already.
Temple, one of the great universities in the country, should be able to find six FBS schools out of 130 to beat every year or just give it up. I would argue Temple needs to find at least eight FBS teams out of 130 it can beat every year.
The No. 1 priority for Temple is not to get into one of those two superconferences, the SEC or the Big 10, but maybe get into what is left over, like the remnants of the Big 12 or, better yet, the ACC. In light of Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC and UCLA and USC going to the Big 10, chaos is the likely result.
Maybe Clemson to the SEC as well causes more dominoes to fall.
Chaos is Temple’s friend. Maybe in a couple of years Temple could be to the ACC what UAB and Rice were to the AAC this year, a viable backup plan.
Beating Maryland, 38-7, 35-14 and 20-17–all things Temple did in the last decade–moved the needle in that direction more than the AAC champions beating Stony Brook, 38-0, did.
Put it this way: The 2016 AAC champion Temple Owls lost by a touchdown, 34-27, at Big 10 champion Penn State and perhaps the only reason for that is the Owls had 134 yards in penalties and two touchdowns called back by questionable holding calls.
Just for giggles, had a G5 conference champion, Temple, beaten that P5 conference champion, Penn State and, instead of a 97-degree afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field that proved to be a wasted three hours against Stony Brook traveled to, for sake of argument, Auburn and beating the Tigers, Temple would have had almost a virtual lock on the first G5 spot in the Final Four.
That would have moved the needle much farther along than it is now and maybe Temple would have jumped Cincinnati–a team it had beaten four-straight times through 2018–into the P5.
That competitive game against UCLA a dozen years ago now seems a century away. So does the one-touchdown loss in 2016 on the road against the Big 10 champion.
Temple can fix it by playing the best and beating the best going forward.
It has nothing to lose by trying.
Monday: The Honeymooners