A long strange trip it was

Hooter is one of the few Owls to get better looking with age.

Sitting at my desk at the Doylestown Intelligencer three days before this game at BYU in 1986, the phone rings and I get a call from the great Al Shrier: “Mike, we have a seat on the team plane. We’d love you to join us.”

I walk into Editor-in-Chief Jim McFadden’s office and ask if I can go, he said, “Only if you tell Al the paper will reimburse all expenses.” Both Al and Jim kept their word.

Great game and I was reminded of this when Joe Tolstoy finally posted a film of the game last week. I haven’t seen this film in 37 years.

Current Owls working on future memories at 10th and Diamond.

Two things I remember about this trip. Meeting the great Neil Diamond on the street in Provo and not being able to drink a brewski due to the draconian local laws. Diamond couldn’t have been more gracious and down to earth meeting this stranger from Philadelphia by pure chance. He and I talked about Philadelphia, the Spectrum and our other musical tastes.


The game itself? Still convinced to this day Temple stopped BYU at the goal on a 4th and 1. Mike Palys (the only player with a Penn State offer who turned down the Nittany Lions for Temple) with two great punt returns. Palys picked Temple because Paterno would not allow him to play baseball at PSU. He was an All-American baseball player at Temple. (Ironically, Al didn’t make the trip because he hated flying.)

That wasn’t the only strange thing about the trip.

While in Philadelphia, we waited on the tarmac for the plane sweating in 86-degree weather for a couple of hours to board.

Landing in Utah, we waited for our luggage outside in 32-degree weather.

Not surprisingly, a week or so later I ended up in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia and the virus that accompanied it attacked my heart. I had to have heart surgery to remove the pericardium.

The first call I received in the hospital was from Shrier, followed closely by other calls from Wayne Hardin and Bruce Arians wishing me luck. (No doubt the first guy had plenty to do with the next two guys placing the calls.)

It worked.

I was in my early 30s at the time so everything else since then has been a bonus.

Even the down times because they led to better ones.

After 19 straight losing seasons, I got to see Temple return to a bowl for the first time in 30 years and finally beat Penn State.

With the advent of the NLI and the transfer portal, you’ve got to wonder if the future is going to get better than the recent past. I have my doubts but I also have my hopes.

Whatever happens, seeing it unfold in the flesh sure beats the alternative.

Friday: Too Close for Comfort


10 thoughts on “A long strange trip it was

  1. Glad you made it all through that Mike! I share your doubts about the NIL and the transfer portal (a tragic move by the NCAA big wigs IMO) having an adverse effect on “mid-level” teams like Temple. As I have said many times before, the rich (Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, etc.) get richer and the not-as-rich (Temple, USF, Tulane, etc.) lose out for the most part. The armature intercollegiate football world of yesterday has forever changed.

  2. 1986 was one of the best Football schedules the Owls ever had (putting aside the fact that Temple had only 4 home games). Correct me if I am wrong but on that schedule they played 4 national champions : Penn State, Alabama, Georgia, and BYU. Other then Western Michigan, every game was against a known appointment. To bad, the Owls can’t have schedules like this today.

    • Good point. If this current version of the Owls can’t have a winning season against the 131st-ranked schedule, there’s something wrong. Our expectations should be high and they should be met.

  3. What a very long and strange trip that was, Mike! Neil D on a street in Utah to a local hospital for heart surgery is one hell of a journey. I do agree with you expectations should be high for this season. Temple needs to get with the program and provide a football program where a .500 season isn’t considered a good year.

    • To be clear, I got sick a week later, was taken to a Doylestown Hospital, and then transferred to Hahnemann Hospital for surgery.

    • Let’s hope so, but looking at several of the new conference members in both BB and football, it may not be so easy. Some went bowling and some in BB are looking quite good in the post season right now.

  4. Yes, I understood you were back home when you fell ill. New topic – did you see the new article on E.J. in the Inquirer? Really like the mindset he projects in the interview headed into Year 2.

    • Yes, the E.J. we saw in the second half of the season was an All-American. The kid we saw in the first half of the season was looking to find his way. I expect to see the second half E.J. from now on and he’s going to have a statue built for him at the EO if he goes from say 18 TDs and 12 INTs to 36 and 16.

  5. what is Withers waiting for? Anybody else would have been on the practice field already…, where is his sense of excitement and urgency, is he doing us a favor?

    perhaps Drayton feels confident and told him, “hey, take your time” dunno, but for someone who just left and who does not need “acclimation”, this is odd

    Speaks volumes if he is not on the field by the end of the week, signed contract or not.

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