Some other unsustainable Temple numbers

Photo in post below courtesy of Zamani Feelings

While looking for another team that was minus-4 in the all-important turnover battles, another group of figures stood out as even more troubling for the Temple football program.

Yes, the Owls were the only team in the nation minus-4 in turnovers but, checking through the boxscore, another figure stood out.

Twenty-one percent.

Only two of the 131-FBS teams in the nation hosted a game in a stadium where a figure as low as 21 percent of capacity was attained.

Temple was one. UTEP was the other.

Temple did better than UTEP but not by much this weekend. In raw numbers, tickets scanned by LFF personnel, Temple had 14,673 pass through the gates on Saturday. Assuming UTEP has that same technology, 10,758 passed through the gates to have a more enjoyable experience of watching a win.

Both UTEP and Temple played home games at 21 percent capacity. Every other home game this past weekend had at least 30 percent capacity.

Temple fans have an excuse. UTEP fans do not.

Being one of 80 teams competing for a bowl game among 131 teams is an incredibly low bar and it’s one the Owls have not only not cleared, but can’t even approach.

At least it’s been that way since 2019.

Texas El Paso fans at least have one more chance at clearing that bar next week.

It’s been the last decade since Temple was competing for a bowl on the final week of the season.

For both schools, you’ve got to wonder how long these numbers are sustainable.

There are a couple of unique problems here.

One, the two schools are playing in stadiums with capacities far outstretching their fan bases

Temple tried to address that problem when the Board of Trustees approved building a new stadium at 15th and Norris. When 20 or so neighbors screamed bloody murder, Temple became the only large school in memory to abandon plans to build a stadium on its own property due to objections from people living outside that property.

The other problem is the larger one.

A bad hire of a head coach can set any program back a number of years and it appears Pat Kraft’s hiring of fellow Indiana University grad Rod Carey did that to Temple. After getting blown out in a bowl game, Carey “led” Temple to 1-6 and 3-9 records. His utter contempt for recruiting and his “my-way-or-the-highway” approach hemorrhaged players out the door. That set back Temple years.

How many years?

It better not be more than this one. You can’t give fans who suffered through almost 20-straight losing seasons from 1990 through 2009 a taste of averaging at least eight wins a game for the next decade and tell them they have to go back to Hell after a decade in Heaven. Texas A&M fans are experiencing the same Heaven/Hell malady now and they are having none of it.

Another 3-9 appears likely this year although progress can be seen in the way the Owls have been competitive. Close, though, counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades, especially to a fan base beaten down by three years of losing.

Compare that to some other league games this weekend. UCF had 100 percent capacity (44,813 in a stadium that seats 44,206) for its loss to Navy. East Carolina drew 85 percent capacity (42,475) for its 42-3 loss to Houston.

At least we’re not Texas A&M

Winning that Homecoming Rutgers game probably would have boosted attendance by 10K per game the rest of the year because that’s a game where a lot of soft-core fans make a decision to come back based on enjoying a win. Grabbing a win at Navy and holding on at Houston probably would have meant a few more thousand against Cincy but that was not to be.

People make decisions to attend based on wins. Close losses don’t put fannies in the seats.

Season-ticket holders like myself got an email from Arthur Johnson asking to renew. Hard core people like me probably will write the check but the soft-core fans have been beaten down and should not be blamed for finding other things to do on Saturdays.

Temple is in Philadelphia, not Missouri, but a significant portion of this city is now in a “show me” mode when it comes to the football Owls. Win, and they are in. Lose, and they are out and the numbers over the last three years have reflected that.

You’ve got to wonder how long those numbers are sustainable.

Friday: ECU Preview


20 thoughts on “Some other unsustainable Temple numbers

  1. It’s deeply disappointing to realize how this program has tanked in such a short time since the glory days of 2015 (beat Penn State and nearly beat Notre Dame, both in front of packed stadiums with huge student presence- College Game Day) and 2016 and a conference championship. Terrible HC hire and COVID (which everyone had to deal with) are likely the main reasons. The only way to get butts back in the seats is to field a winning program and bring back the big boys like PSU and ND. But of course that should be obvious. Will it happen within many of our lifetimes? Who knows., but the outlook is not brilliant at the moment! The team started to show some improvement, but it will take time. A 21% full stadium is embarrassing. Yes it was bitter cold, but Rutgers had a sellout against Penn State on Saturday. An on-campus stadium would be nice, but not likely to happen any time soon. I have been a loyal alum for more years than I’d like to admit, but I can’t recall it ever being quite this bad. Major improvement needs to happen soon or the program may finally be terminated. It hurts me to say that, but it is what it is. Anyway- go Owls 🦉

    • We are chasing and watching the wrong rabbit. Who hired Carey? Kraft, and who hired him? TUFB is challenged at the Strategic and Operational levels.

      Remember the phrase, “It’s the economy stupid”. Well, it’s the BOT, in spades!

      Where is the strategic vision for TUFB, the front porch of TU? Non-existent. Does the BOT have P5 aspirations? NO! So why should TUFB fans even dream about the P5..,

      The only reason TU plays football is because it is in the state provided budget. The BOT could care less, all the same dollars to them.

  2. I am an Owl supporter. I purchased tickets, but did not attend. The Homecoming Game against Rutgers was a “wash” due to my illness. The others, against Navy and USF, were canceled when I informed the ticket office that my seats would be donated to the Student Association. Yes, I was one of those, “fair weather fans”, but could you blame me? Traveling from Central PA is not an easy trip, especially when the possibility of seeing a win is a “crap shoot”. At least Coach Drayton had them playing better towards the end of the season. Hopefully, they can beat ECU and build upon that for next year.

    • Hopefully, the ECU game will mirror the Memphis game from 2012. I have my doubts, though. The trajectory was good for Navy, USF and Houston and Cincy is not a SIGNIFICANTLY better team than two of those three. It was heartbreaking to see the offense revert to the form it showed the entire month of October. We were able to run the ball against USF and that apparently was an outlier. Then Houston stopped the run but the Owls were able to pass. Owls were able to do neither against Cincy. Owls can’t run the ball. They need an upgrade at both RB and OL. Those are hard things to do with high school recruits. At least in those areas, Temple needs to find some FCS all-stars and maybe even JUCO All-Americans looking to move up and improve the run game right away. If you can’t get on the field as a P5 lineman, probably won’t be able to help Temple. The Illinois backup running back who left proved his was no better than a backup RB at Temple, too.

      • Agree regarding P5 O-lineman in the transfer portal and it seems as far as Temple QBs as well. Mathis looks to have all the physical tools to excell at receiver going forward but not sure of his head is in the game anymore. I think you can hit on defensive P5 players in the portal but do think the team would be better served going after as you sais FCS all stars and judicious use of JUCO players.
        As far as the OCS, it has been talked about since I was an undergrad in the late 70s and unfortunately that all it seems it will ever be is talk.
        I’ll be writing my check as well to renew my tickets, going to do it early to get those 2 additional tickets for Miami, I was able to take advantage of the additional tickets for Lafayette this season and I know friends will want to come to the game to see “TheU”

  3. The TUFB business model is an interesting case study. First is understanding the niche. D1 football in a pro sports market will always be an uphill battle.

    There are a few big points to cover in boosting attendance:

    Put a winner on the field. I’m not overstating when I say that Carey wiped out 15 years of progress. TUFB is now at the same spot it was when Al Golden took over. I was positive on the HC from the start and have seen nothing to change my mind at this point. The team should be more competitive next year and have a chance at a bowl.

    Better opponents will draw more people. Lafayette, UMass, Akron and Norfolk State is not going to draw strong attendance. Brand name opponents will help. Penn State and Notre Dame will always get tickets sold. Miami and Oklahoma in upcoming seasons should help. Maryland and Pitt and Rutgers are natural targets to get on the schedule. Think like John Chaney and schedule tougher opponents.

    More wins and better scheduling will get you better TV exposure. The more people that see you on TV, the broader your audience to sell tickets to. It’s tough to promote your product when half of your games are on ESPN+. You need to be on ESPN2 at a minimum. Better TV ratings are your only hope of moving up the conference food chain.

    Better ticket pricing will help. No seats in the Linc over $20 except for club box level. Concession prices should be at Minor League Baseball level.

    Easier said than done, but this is the way to get things to the leve we want to see.

    • The ineptness of the BOT places a self-imposed cap/ceiling on TUFB. Why would 4 star athletes commit to TU? They won’t.

      Star Kids have choices $$$$, TU will not be one of them.

      Somebody had the gon#ds to call me for a donation. Why should anyone donate when the BOT could care less? How many of them donate to TUFB, how many of them actually go to the games? Where is the accountability? The BOT shuns responsibility, heck what is the vision for TUFB?

      BOT modus operandi:
      1. Let the program fall to rock bottom.
      2. Hire a new AD/HC, wait to see how long they’ll stick.
      3. Offer zero support.
      4. Repeat steps 1-3.

      Johnson and Drayton have been hoodwinked. Success or failure, neither one will be here in 2025. We are in Step 2 of the 4 Step BOT process.

  4. Beating ECU outlier or not would be huge. We looked really bad against Cincy with so many miscues. Clean things up, keep playing hard and with some luck maybe a win Saturday. If not, who will look forward to next year? Not many……but with the conference realignment hopefully there will be 6 wins next year. And as far as a stadium goes, tell Lurie to go to hell, put 10-15K seats around the EO field somehow and start winning. Then we’ll see what happens.

    • Gotta wonder if this becomes a Catch-22 situation. Recruits come to see a cold late November game in an empty stadium and say “thanks, but no thanks” to Drayton. Under Rhule we had wins and the momentum of a pair of 10-win seasons at our backs and there was at least a good atmosphere in the stadium in November. Collins coasted to a $7.4 million job on the backs of those recruits, didn’t deliver Temple the promised talent and bolted for the money. Then Carey squeezed out the last remnants of Rhule recruits and took his $6 million buyout to the Midwest. Can’t win without recruits. Can’t get crowds without wins. Can’t get recruits without crowds. The cycle continues.

      • Yes, and look for E.J. Warner to disappear though the transfer portal in search of greener pastures. Tough times for TU football!

      • A few points to hit on here.

        There is a hole in the logic that recruits make decisions based on crowds. It may play for 4 star and 5 star recruits. Not a big factor for most of the AAC.

        Recruiting comes back to basics – relationships between recruiters and players and opportunity to play. Now we must add NIL. If it was based on crowds, any head coach going back to Al never could have got players to come here.

        The BOT has to do better. A president and AD from the P5 should be able to help force this. Most important is to get movement on NIL. TU as a whole is behind the curve on this. Watch what Poggi does in Charlotte to get things moving.

        I don’t think Warner will draw much interest in the portal this year. Perhaps if he has a good year next year. The potential is there but he needs some development. What competition does he have in the QB room right now? But back to the point on relationships – if Langsdorf goes, no way Warner is here for 4 years. He came here on the relationship and the opportunity to play. He’s not here at all if Langsdorf did not come here.

  5. Great find, KJ. I think the better quote came at the 21:00 time stamp was he was cleaning his desk out after recruiting for Daz thinking Daz wasn’t going to keep him in 2010 when he got the call at 10:30 at night saying, “Hey, Matt, we’re going to keep you.” Then Rhule says the next year he got the call from Tom Coughlin and the year after that “I had the best professional moment of my life” when he came back to Temple as head coach. Pretty amazing because after that he was a P5 coach and an NFL coach and he still calls getting the Temple job “the best professional moment of my life.”

    • 2023 Portal:
      1. LT and C, Dawkins and Hennessy
      2. WR, Rod Streater or an Anderson
      3. RB, Anybody who can hit the hole w/speed (the kid in the ’23 recruiting class is too small. No more than 5-7 carries per game for that body type)

  6. TU can’t play at the Linc. It is impossible for them to consistently put 35-40k in that venue. Sure, you get a few games where you have maybe 35k, but those are fewer these days. You don’t figure out a creative way to get an OCS, you might as well put a fork in the program. Take a look at last Saturday’s visual of the Linc, it is painful that that crowd is an FBS crowd. Gate said 15k, probably was less than 10k in person. Temple football needs an OCS to get the casual fan that has a few others on Saturday to attend a game because it is on campus. How many students do you think take their parents to the Linc on Parents weekend? I’d say less than you’d like. You cannot let a few neighbors put the screws to a University that employs over 14,000 and is the largest university in the system. A huge economic driver. You have to get the new mayor, President Wingard and some extremely well heeled alumni and have a “come to jesus” meeting on an OCS. You can use it for other events as well. It doesn’t have to be just football. Concerts, soccer (World Cup training facility for 2026), Rugy championships, Drexel can host NCAA Semifinal lacrosse games, women’s sports, put a damn hockey rink up and host a few flyers games outside, they need attendance. Think creative, it is hard to do for Philly officials, but this is an incredible university that I think can find a way to get this done. Seat 35k–wheelhouse, great atmosphere. You want PSU to come to town and have it be a really tough ticket.
    You don’t get an OCS, you will be mired in this muck until they finally pull the plug.
    This is not a reflection on Drayton or the team, it is more about what can join this program to campus and the university.

    • You have some valid points. The “crowds” at the Linc are an embarrassment, especially when the game is on national TV. The end zones and 50 yard line often (usually?) have faded Eagles images. An on-campus stadium will solve a lot of issues IMO. Someone really needs to put some serious pressure on the city big wigs to get it done. There will always be opposition out there for one reason or another. That’s the way it was with the Liacouras Center. But is was built and it draws students to basketball games when the opposition is well-known and respected nationally. And as with football, a winning program is paramount to putting fans in the stands. Temple football has been around since 1894, that’s 128 years. I would hate to see the program terminated at this point. But the university has to show a valid interest!

      • TU has a casual interest in their athletic programs. The number #1 criteria is to avoid scandal. Success or failure, fans or no fans the BOT could care less.

        Are there any indications the University is committed to competing at the regional or national level? No!

        The OCS died years ago when Theobald got fired. Continued play at the Linc is untenable, but the BOT thinks they have “the best deal we could get” w/Lurie.

        Half of the current members of the BOT should be impeached. They are lazy, afraid of controversy, and too content w/the status quo.

        Cincy, UCF, and Houston are P5 bound. Can you image where TU would be w/o the misplaced 3 stooges from middle America, Theobald, Kraft, and Carey?

      • If Lewis Katz was alive today he would read the riot act to his fellow BOT members. That plane crash not only killed a great man but was a tragedy for Temple sports.

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