Roughly about the same time the most consequential Temple football class since Al Golden’s penultimate one was being signed on TV, down the dial iconic anchor Jim Gardner was saying his final goodbyes to Philadelphia.
From a ratings standpoint, bad timing.
Overnights had the 6 p.m. Action News broadcast at 540,000 viewers which was the highest rated 6 p.m. Action News since Sept. 11, 2001.
You all know what happened on that day.
Sorry, Jim, but I eschewed the local news that day for another down the dial, the Temple Football Signing Show (ESPN+, also 6 p.m.). Probably only the 20,000 or so hardcore Temple football fans joined me. Maybe a sliver of the 20,000 or so “softcore” Temple fans did as well.
The reason was simple: Action News goes on and on for another 46 years with or without Jim Gardner.
Temple football is always looking over its should for the axe.
Fortunately, due to what happened, the Owls future looks bright on paper and any rumors of their demise are, as Mark Twain would say, premature.
We have to say on paper because this is the highest-rated class since the second Steve Addazio class (52) after the big 2011 New Mexico Bowl win over Wyoming.
In fact, it ranks with Al Golden’s first two classes which were the top ones in the MAC.
Back then, Golden would host Temple fans for a night on campus to watch the film of the new recruits and take questions afterward. He always embraced the fact that the Scout.com and Rivals.com services had his recruiting classes ranked No. 1 in the league.
Golden never won a MAC title because recruiting classes have to cycle through the system for a full four years in order to win a league title and he left for Miami before that. A strong argument could be made that his recruiting got the Owls in a position where they were able to make a move up in leagues from the MAC to the Big East. Golden promised to build a house of brick, not straw,
Golden kept his promise and I had to laugh when all the stories about Matt Rhule being hired at Nebraska said it was Rhule, not Golden, who revitalized Temple football. Temple disagrees. Golden is in the Temple Sports Hall of Fame for a reason and Rhule is not.
Golden was the guy who did all the heavy lifting. Rhule benefited from it.
Now it appears that Stan Drayton is following the Golden Template, not the Rhule one, and the organization is better for it.
Drayton realizes his hard work has Temple ranked high up the Group of Five recruiting food chain and has, like Golden, embraced recognition.
Temple put out a couple of social media posts backing up its hard work and that’s smart. Every staff pats themselves on the back and thinks they did a great job but it’s nice to know impartial observers do as well.
For this post, we won’t go through every individual signee (there are plenty of days between now and Cherry and White to do that), but we will note that Dante Wright was a first-team freshman All-American wide receiver in 2019 and the first-team All-American freshman quarterback in 2022 was E.J. Warner.
Put those two on the field together in 2023 and the potential is there for the Owls to turn the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard into an adding machine. Freshman running back Joquez Smith is considered by most Florida prep writers to be the best running back in that talent-fertile state and his 55 touchdowns over the last two years provides the receipts. Edward Saydee had 53 touchdowns in three years at Penn Charter. Inter-Ac football is good, but it’s not on a 6A Florida level like Tampa Jesuit is. Saydee will give Smith a run for his money but we’ve got to think on pure logic alone Smith wins the job.
Plus, Amad Anderson and Zae Baines made huge receiving strides in the second half of the season and Richard Dandridge, perhaps the best wide receiver in the state of Florida, joins that room. Hands down, Temple has the two best tight ends in the AAC in David Martin-Robinson and Jordan Smith and having those two on the field at the same time only serves to jumpstart what had been a subpar running game. The offensive line has been upgraded so we probably won’t see a pass on a 3d and 1 next year. Gosh, I hope not.
Defensively, although Darian Varner made a dumb decision to leave for Virginia Tech (didn’t he learn anything from Jadan Blue last year?), defensive coordinator D.J. Eliott says Layton Jordan (the better Owl edge rusher) is all in and will return. Drayton got Jordan plenty of pass-rushing help and look for Jordan and Jordan Magee to have years next year that put them high up in NFL draft conversations. Staying at Temple will probably make Layton and Jordan millions in the NFL draft. Just ask Haason Reddick.
Jim Gardner might have been the big story on Action News Wednesday but what happened down the dial was the best news for Temple football we’ve seen since The Golden Era.
Afterward, Drayton talked championships as the Temple standard. Channel 6 can have the ratings. I will take riding home on a bus with the AAC championship trophy over that any day of the week. Wednesday made that day a lot closer.
Monday: Five Plays We’d Like to Have Back
Friday: Five scholarships left
Great article. So true about Al Golden. I was & still am a big fan of his. No Al Golden, no TU football. I’m also a Stan Drayton fan. I was concerned early in recruiting that he might compromise & not pursue top talent because he was at TU. I forgot for a moment, it’s a “show me, prove to me” process with a new coaching staff, especially in their first few years. I’m realistic to know we’re going to need a few more recruiting classes before a Championship is in sight, but at my age “time is of the essence”… so I hope we get to consistent winning seasons sooner rather than later.
Maybe not (about the few years part) because a lot of these guys coming in are accomplished FBS players and not high school ones.
Mike: Nice to “see” you thrilled about the status of the program. Night and day compared to comments a few days ago.
All here might get a look at what bowls are doing for the players via the NIL:
KJ correctly pointed out a week ago that Temple had the fewest hard commits to that point of any FBS team. Reason to be not thrilled at that time. However, this staff produced some receipts for their Christmas shopping and what’s under the tree looks good so must give credit where credit is due. As far as the bowls and the NIL, got to wonder if that is going to have an impact on future opt outs. Really impressed that the Alabama players aren’t opting out like the USC, Ohio State and other school players are.
A little more on the show. Next year’s show would be much better if you could lose the segments that I viewed as filler. One, the MacKenzie Morgan segment. Good punter. Nice kid but it had nothing to do with this signing class. Also didn’t need to see the white kid from Memphis. Had nothing to do with this signing class. The E.J. Warner segment might have been the BEST segment because it showed all of the incoming players what they could do in Year One. I’d rather have more cowbell (new players film) than the first two segments but the E.J segment hit it out of the park.