Not ashamed to say that I’m nowhere near as big a Temple basketball fan as I am a football one but my job that pays (this one doesn’t even meet the expenses of running the site) enables me to listen to Temple basketball a couple of times a week while I work for pay.
To me, my fandom for Temple football over Temple basketball is a matter of necessity.
Nobody is going to drop Temple basketball after a few bad seasons. After a few bad ones, Temple football always has been in Jeopardy. That’s the reason for this site (see the logos through the years on the right).
Just check the 2005 vote, where the BOT saved Temple football by one man. Howard Gittis, the BOT chairman who knew nothing about football, cast the deciding vote because the man thought (correctly) that Temple, like every other freaking major university, should offer its students the things most major universities do and that included, as Gittis said “a great band and a great football team.”
To me, the first Sugar Bowl participant and a program that gave Temple a No. 17 ranking in both major polls should never be questioned but Temple football, unlike Temple basketball, always has to look over its shoulder.
Still, my connection with Temple sports in these dark and cold months is listening to the basketball games between now and Cherry and White Day.
You can learn a lot from these halftime basketball interviews.
One, the Owls’ quarterback, E.J. Warner, is all in on Temple football. Kevin Copp did a terrific interview with Warner during halftime and Warner said his No. 1 priority is to “improve the chemistry with my guys” including receivers like Amad Anderson, Nate Stewart, Jose Barbon, Jordan Smith and David Martin-Robinson.
He’s not falling for the bullshit that Darian Varner fell for which is that somewhere other than Temple is a better path to the NFL.
Unlike Varner, Warner wants to build something here. If everybody other than Varner stays, he can and he will. Stan Drayton is building something special here but to do it he needs to keep the “good guys” and bring in about a dozen “better guys.”
He lost only one good guy. Misguided guy, but a good player. If Varner lessens his stock as an NFL player by leaving Temple, it will be a predictable outcome given the history of guys like Quincy Roche, Anthony Russo and Jadan Blue–good kids who found out the hard way that leaving Temple was a bad move.
That brings us to the topic of this post.
Algorithms and Temple football.
Offensively, Temple has ranked 103 among 130 teams.
How can that be improved?
Temple was one of only 30 teams not having a 1,000-yard rusher.
Fortunately, there are several proven FBS ones in the portal, led by Ball State running back Carson Steele. He’d be a perfect fit for Temple but he’s not the only one. Alcorn State’s Jarveon Howard has a year of eligibility left and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be a 1,000-yard rusher here.
Get one who can put up 1,000 yards and the Owls immediately move up so, offensively, a big-time running back is the No.1 priority. Also getting three better offensive linemen than the ones who are here would help but that’s a more difficult pull.
Temple led both the
and the AAC
(2015) in average
attendance per game
Defensively, they will have to replace an all-AAC pass rusher. Fortunately, a four-star from Missouri has shown interest in the Owls and, if line coach Antoine Smith can work the same kind of magic with that he did with Varner, the Owls might have another NFL pick on their hands. Also the Owls need better run-stoppers. They are set at linebacker and on the back end of the secondary.
Special teams, the Owls need a kick returner and, in Harrisburg’s Kyle Williams, that problem could be solved. They need a kicker who can put the ball in the end zone consistently.
They need to keep this year’s gang together first and add on next.
If Drayton was smart, he’d call in all of the “good guys” for a heart-to-heart in the office and sell them on the fact that he’s bringing in better guys to augment them and to win that title he promised them a couple of weeks ago.
If the Owls win a title, the payday for the kids who stay now will significantly dwarf anything Varner can make elsewhere.
These Owls are that close to achieving what Drayton promised.
Howard Gittis (RIP) would be proud. A great band and a great football team was his solemn promise and the current powers-that-be, including the CEO of the football program, the BOT, the AD the President must make happen no matter how many meetings with the players they have.
Or how much money they need to spend.
Friday (12/16): Next man up?
Monday (12/19): The Single Digit Tradition