No such thing as a moral victory … but

Stopped at Vincent’s Pizza in Rockledge on the way home from the Temple game on Saturday and a couple of young girls at the counter looked at my Temple Football Forever T-Shirt.

One of them said: “Were you at the Temple game today?”

“Yes.”

Not much to choose between these two teams.

“We were too. We were at the student tailgate. It was so much fun. We only saw a little of the game because we had to get back to work here.”

“Good. I hope you guys are fans for life like me.”

“Oh we are.”

That was their first Temple football game. It was my, by rough estimation, 612th going back to the time I split as a grade school youngin between Penn and Temple football games.

When Wayne Hardin came to Temple, I gave up the Penn fandom altogether.

One school in Philadelphia had the best coach in college football and it wasn’t Penn.

Sometimes the lifelong fandom comes as much in a loss at much as a win. I’ve always said there is no such thing as a “moral victory” but maybe an exception came in a 16-14 loss to unbeaten Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

A lot of Rutgers fans said they were going to “take over” Lincoln Financial Field. Far from it. There were at least 70 percent Temple fans there, as one of their “honest” fans said.

These Rutgers fans were on the money.

More importantly, Temple was without its best offensive lineman (Adam Klein), best linebacker (Tra Thomas) and two top running backs (Texas A&M transfer Darvon Hubbard and Illinois transfer Jakari Norwood) and played Rutgers to a virtual standoff.

Of course, a real standoff is preferable to a virtual one but the point is all of those guys will be back for the more important conference games.

The Owls were in this game against a Big 10 foe until the very end and there are a couple of “should-have, would-have” plays both fan bases can point to as keys. On the RU end, Temple’s first play from scrimmage should have been a pick 6. On the Temple side, Nathan Stewart dropped a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from E. J. Warner.

Stuff happens. A few plays here and a few plays there make the difference.

On the way out of the stadium, Tony Russo–Anthony Russo’s dad–tapped me on the shoulder. Anthony Russo is one of the top four quarterbacks, statistically, in Temple history. He was 6-4. Warner, as a 6-footer, can’t be blamed for not picking up the danger that lay ahead in a real Pick 6.

“I really like E.J. Warner,” I told him, “but if he was 6-4 like Anthony, he wouldn’t have given up the pick 6. He would have seen over the defense.”

“He’s going to be a real good player here,” Tony Russo said.

“Yeah, I think you’re right.”

Pretty good endorsement from the dad of a former player. Kurt Warner should have been there to hear it.

Minus that play, Temple wins, but it shouldn’t have come down to that.

Temple had a nice little drive going from its own 10 in the final four minutes that would have set up Rory Bell to be the hero with a field goal.

About the second play in, I was hoping for Stan Drayton to throw the halfback pass. All the mental telepathy fell on deaf ears sadly. I think it would have worked. Trey Blair, his halfback, was a terrific quarterback in high school. Pitching it out to Blair might have suckered in the RU defense just enough that Blair could have found a wide-open Adonicas Sanders behind the defense for the win.

Maybe Drayton didn’t know Blair played quarterback in high school or maybe he’s saving that play for a conference game that puts him in the championship. My guess is that the new Temple OC doesn’t realize Blair was a damn good high school quarterback and the play was not in the books.

Hardin would have thrown that halfback pass against Rutgers. Maybe it would have worked, maybe it wouldn’t but he wouldn’t have left it on the table knowing it might have worked.

Moral victories meant even less to him but if Rutgers turns out to be the best team on the Temple 2022 schedule and the Owls use that to win the rest, this will be only “moral victory” we’ve ever seen at Temple.

Monday: Legacy Analysis

RU at TU: What a long, strange, trip it’s been

Temple had to wait until late November to get its first win of the season in 1989.

Unless there are some backroom dealings we don’t know about, Rutgers will be making its last trip to Philadelphia to play Temple tomorrow (2 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field).

Maybe not ever, but certainly for a long, long time.

Temple wins this game at Temple Stadium.

That’s a shame because two FBS college football teams separated by only 67 miles should play probably every year. To put this in perspective, only few other possible matchups are shorter drives among the current 130 FBS teams. In the traditional East, Maryland vs. Navy is closer as is Pitt vs. West Virginia but that’s it.

Rutgers at Temple is not on any future schedule. Temple finishes up the current series in Piscataway next Sept. 9.

It’s a short trip geographically, but a long, strange one, football-wise, for both teams.

Many times–but not all–the unexpected happens.

That’s really a trademark of rivalry games.

Temple won its only game in 1989 by upsetting Rutgers, 36-33, in the season finale at Veterans Stadium. Not a big upset but the Scarlet Knights that year beat Northwestern and Boston College. In 1949, Temple came home from a 54-0 shellacking at the hands of Texas and beat a pretty good Rutgers team, 14-7, at Temple Stadium. RU finished 6-3 that year.

This has been a pretty competitive series. Temple voluntarily forfeited the 1986 game, which it won. The NCAA didn’t recognize Temple’s forfeit so the real lead is 20-16. Both schools, however, are going with the number that includes Temple’s voluntary forfeit so the game notes read 21-15.

Close enough.

It doesn’t really matter though because any series this tight both on the field and geographically qualifies as a rivalry.

RU has played Temple in four Philadelphia stadiums, all inside the City Limits–Temple Stadium, Franklin Field, Veterans Stadium and, now, Lincoln Financial Field.

Our picks this week: Two favorites, two dogs. Love Lance Leipold and the points at Houston, and also Purdue (which probably should be favored) at Syracuse. WSU should kill CSU as should KSU and Kade Warner Tulane.

To be honest, I thought Temple only had a chance to beat Rutgers IF the Owls won at Duke.

I still think that theory applies, but history has trumped logic a few times before in this and maybe it can again.

Let’s put it this way: Temple’s loss to Duke in Week One looked a lot worse then than it does now and Rutgers’ win at Boston College looked a lot better then than now.

Duke dominated Temple but then went on to dominate a Northwestern team that beat Nebraska. Both Temple and Northwestern had similar success, at least from the defensive end, in the second half against Duke.

Boston College, on the other hand, after losing at home to Rutgers by one, lost to a Virginia Tech team that lost to G5 Old Dominion. Then, once you thought ODU was good, the Monarchs got dominated by an East Carolina program that lost four of its six games to Temple.

The other X-factor is that D’Wan Mathis has killed Temple as its quarterback since beating Memphis a year ago. He plays for self-preservation and, if that means putting the ball don’t the ground for the bad guys to pick up, so be it. At least he’s not getting hurt.

Temple partied like it was 1999 in this game.

Rod Carey watched that, folded his arms, looked skyward and kept Mathis in the game, absorbing the beatings.

The new guy, Stan Drayton, proved to Temple fans that he won’t sit back and take beatings last week. He pulled Mathis after the second time he put it on the ground.

E.J. Warner has the opposite mindset and the team has rallied behind him. His style of ball deserves an extended look.

Behind Warner, Temple showed some life against a Lafayette team considerably better than the Wagner team that lost to RU 66-7 a week ago.

Vegas has noticed.

A lot of self-flagellating Temple fans thought the opening 16-point line was low. No doubt a lot of RU fans did, too but Vegas’ job is to set the line to get an equal number of bets on both sides.

The line has gone up to 17.5 in the last five days.

Homecoming should be a factor as Temple was an underdog three of the last four years on HC and won outright all four times. Temple fans grabbed up all of the seats on one side of this field two weeks ago and that contributed to 90 percent of Lot K being filled by Temple fans. On Thursday night, Lincoln Financial Field announced that Lot K parking–the largest lot nearest LFF–is sold out.

Rutgers, no doubt, will bring a large contingent of fans. Our sources in the LFF ticket office predict an announced attendance of 45,000, with roughly a 30,000 Temple group vs. a 15-20K from RU. Only if RU brings 20K could this announced attendance hit 50K. (They base it on Temple grabbing 90 percent of the Lot K parking spots.)

Temple could not have ordered better weather.

To be honest, I do not know what is going to happen either in the stands or on the field.

This could be anything from a 49-7 Rutgers win to Temple repeating its 36-33 upset in 1989.

What we will say is this series needs to be both extended and renewed and, if the administration of both schools is paying attention to their supporters, this better not be the last time Rutgers visits Philadelphia.

Our picks this week: Two favorites, two dogs. Love Lance Leipold and the points at Houston, and also Purdue (which probably should be favored) at Syracuse. WSU should kill CSU as should KSU and Kade Warner Tulane.

Last week ATS: 3-2 (won on Duke, App State and UTSA and lost on ODU and Vandy)

Season ATS: 3-2

Prediction update: Split on this weekend’s games, as our instincts were correct on Lance Leipold winning at Houston and Washington State killing CSU. Only a Hail Mary pass at the Carrier Dome kept us from going to 3-1 as Syracuse beat Purdue and Tulane’s win at Kansas State was a real head-scratcher.

So far: 5-4 ATS on the season.

Sunday: Game Analysis

Monday: Legacy Analysis

The ONE thing certain to shock Rutgers fans

The Temple fan experience will be a lot closer to this 2015 Homecoming Game than any recent one.

There’s a prevalent notion among Rutgers fans that Lincoln Financial Field is somehow “holding back” tickets because there are so few sections available for Saturday’s game.

Conspiracy theories abound but no one in Piscataway has come up with the correct answer. At least not among the literally hundreds of posts about the subject.

A couple of recent Homecoming Crowds: Last year for a 3-9 team, Temple drew 28,564 for the Memphis Homecoming win and, in 2019, the Owls drew 34,253  for another Homecoming win over Memphis. If the Owls get even 30,000 of their own fans and 15,000 Rutgers fans attend, the attendance for this game could push 45,000.

The answer simply is this: The sections that are not available are Temple sections because it’s Temple’s Homecoming. Temple might not win on Saturday, but on the trip back home, the honest Rutgers fans will no doubt reach one conclusion.

“There were a lot more Temple fans there than I thought would be there.”

There are plenty of reasons for this. One, since Matt Rhule started winning in Year Three of his tenure, the SMALLEST crowd for Homecoming was last year (28,564) because the fan base was shellshocked by the 1-6 Rod Carey COVID season of 2020. That crowd was still pretty loud and the atmosphere lifted one of the worst Temple teams of the past decade to a win over Memphis.

Temple beats Cincinnati in this 2018 Homecoming Game.

There seems to be a notion in North Jersey that Rutgers fans are somehow going to “take over” Lincoln Financial Field. While it was true back in 2012 when Steve Addazio was head coach of a LOSING Temple team, it does not figure to be true now.

That RU-TU game was NOT Temple’s Homecoming and that Temple team was on the way to a 4-7 season.

Temple Homecoming crowds generally average about 10,000 more than the other five home games. At least the last half-dozen HC games or so.

The best Rutgers’ fans can hope for is a 50-50 split, even though the numbers now indicate from the sections available that the Temple side is nearly sold out and it would probably be a 60/40 Temple lean.

Allentown (Pa.) nightly news anchor Rob Vaughn (the Jim Gardner of the Lehigh Valley), comments on last year’s HC crowd.

The Stan Drayton hire seems to have energized the fan base and probably the kind of atmosphere fans can expect is the Homecoming Game of 2015 (see above video). Plus, it’s Dr. Jason Wingard’s induction as Temple President and there are a lot of pre-game ceremonies planned for more than a year for this day. Temple people who see one football game a year will be at this one.

RU has never been to the Linc for a Temple Homecoming, at least since the program was revitalized by Al Golden and Matt Rhule. It literally is the ONLY game a lot of fans come to every year and that in and of itself guarantees a large Temple contingent. Temple has had its attendance troubles, but never on this one day a year. You cannot expect the average Rutgers fan understands that data. That seems to fuel a lot of misconceptions about what the size of the Temple crowd will be from a North Jersey perspective.

The only sections available on the Temple season ticket side are two at the club level.

The fact that this is a regional rival suggests there is even more Temple interest in this game than the two most recent Homecoming wins against Memphis or even the 2018 Homecoming win over a Cincinnati team that came in with a 6-0 record.

Will Rutgers bring the most impressive visiting fan contingent in the last half-dozen years? No doubt. Is Rutgers taking over the Linc?

That’s a notion certain to be disabused by late Saturday afternoon.

Friday: Temple-Rutgers Preview

Temple-Rutgers: Only the weather is certain

Temple fans will be standing in Sections 118 and 119

Over the last few days, the betting line for the Temple at Rutgers opener has fluctuated between 14.5 points four days ago and 12.5 this morning.

Tomorrow, it could be 13.5 and Rutgers will probably remain favored until the opening kickoff.

Still, if anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, they are just fooling themselves.

No Temple game in my recent memory is more unpredictable than this one. The Owls have a five-star quarterback under center, D’Wan Mathis, who first committed to Michigan State, then Ohio State and then Georgia.

He started the opener last year for the Bulldogs and played more like a two-star.

If he plays like the guy recruited by MSU, OSU and Georgia, Rutgers could be in trouble. Those staffs are paid millions for evaluating big-time talent and they all loved him.

If he plays like he did in last year’s opener, Temple could be in trouble.

Ironically, the weather is the only thing seemingly certain for Thursday night (6 p.m. kickoff, Big 10 Network).

It could get between moderately wet and really wet between 6-10 p.m. in Piscataway. The middle of that spaghetti plot on the left has whatever is left of Hurricane Ida pretty much over New Jersey between 7 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday. The midpoint of those two times roughly corresponds with the three-plus hours the Owls and the Scarlet Knights will be battling.

Best way to get to Piscataway from Philly is to take SEPTA Regional Rail to the Trenton Transit Center and, from there, it’s only a 39-minute ride to the New Brunswick Station (the 1:24 estimate includes leaving Temple U.). RU offers buses right outside NBS to the game starting 3 hours before kickoff.

If Temple running backs’ coach Gabe Infante is as good as we think he is (and we think he’s a gem), the emphasis the next couple days of practice will be for his group to hold the ball high and tight.

We already know defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles placed Priority No. 1 on getting turnovers because he said so four weeks ago. The Owls have been practicing stripping the ball, going after fumbles and tipping the ball and getting interceptions on deflections. That’s been as or more important than stopping the run and getting to the quarterback.

Which team holds onto the ball and takes it away probably will decide this game.

Not touchdown passes.

Not rushing stats or first downs.

And definitely not point spreads.

Turnovers.

If the weather is as impactful as the cone of certainty suggests, this will probably be a low-scoring game, something on the order of 10-6, 14-7, even 17-7. We probably won’t see either quarterback throw for five touchdowns or 300 yards but might see a running back get 200.

Whatever, don’t forget the umbrella.

Friday: Game Analysis

Rutgers’ fans could use a slice of humility

Owls will have to gang-tackle like this if they hope to win on Thursday night.

Like any general statement, a disclaimer is usually required and we’ll offer one here.

To quote what somebody once said in 2016: “They’re bringing crime. They are rapists and some, I assume, are good people.”

Not anyone from any other country.

These are people who live only 65 miles away.

Rutgers fans.

Your pretty much typical post about Temple on a Rutgers’ board.
A Rutgers’ fan “opinion” of the Owls followed by the facts below:
Temple has won four of its last five games against Cincinnati.

Rutgers’ fans are definitely not bringing crime or rapists but the some of them being good people certainly applies.

Joe, who posts here regularly, seems a decent-enough person but I will make this GENERAL statement.

Before Carey’s 1-6 Covid year, these were the facts.

Rutgers’ fans are without a doubt in my 40-plus years of experience the most obnoxious fans of all frequent Temple opponents.

The disclaimer usually is some not all, but we’ll modify that.

Most, not all.

There I said it.

There are a couple of comparisons that come to mind. They remind me of Mets fans in bad seasons who still think their team is pretty good when they stink. They are the Mets’ fans who are yelling in your ear about how great the Mets are for seven innings at CBP and the ones who get up and leave when Chase Utley hits a bases-clearing triple in the eighth.

And they always think they are better than Temple, even in the many years they were not.

I first encountered that attitude as an undergrad carrying a transistor radio and hearing a couple of clowns on the Rutgers’ pre-game show.

“Let’s face it,” the analyst told the play-by-play guy, “Rutgers should beat Temple every year.”

“Who the hell do they think they are?” I thought out loud.

Temple won that game, 41-20.

A pretty satisfying day against a team that beat Tennessee that year, 13-8.

Another satisfying day came a few years later when Bruce Arians’ Temple team won at RU, 35-30. That RU team beat Penn State and still another great but wet night came after Temple was kicked out of the Big East for “non-competitiveness” and won at RU, 20-17. Cap Poklemba kicked the winning field goal and Tanardo Sharps only seemed to run for 8,000 yards (really, 215) in the rain. The Owls as a team ran over to the Big East logo and danced to “T for Temple U” on it.

After spending the pre-game tailgate with Joe Klecko and my friends Nick and Sharon, who graciously invited me to their tailgate, the post-game beers never tasted better. Geez, that was 19 years ago. Hard to believe, Harry.

That was the fourth-straight year Temple beat RU but RU remained in the league and Temple was kicked out.

No fan base “smells themselves” quite like Rutgers and, since they sit pretty close to the toxic waste dump that is North New Jersey, it’s not a good smell. I’m quite OK with living in the nation’s first World Heritage City instead.

Check this out.

Rutgers claims a “national championship” in 1976 and that’s laughable since Pitt was also 12-0 that year. Temple lost to Pitt, 21-7, that year and Penn State, 31-30. It’s there in writing on the official Rutgers’ sports website: “National champions 1869, 1961 and 1976.”

Don’t know much about the first two, but I was around in 1976.

The teams Rutgers beat that year?

Navy, Bucknell, Princeton, Cornell, UConn, Colgate, Lehigh, Columbia, UMass, Louisville, Tulane and Colgate.

The Navy team RU beat that year, 13-3, lost to Pitt, 45-0.

But, yeah, let’s claim a national championship year.

Typical of Rutgers and its fans, who all think they should smoke Temple not only this year but from the beginning of time.

Not sure where they are getting that from but if any fan base deserves a slice of humble pie on Thursday night, it’s that one. Hopefully, the coaching staff that is 5-2 against the Big 10 doesn’t forget to bring the whip cream.

Monday: Finally, Game Week

Friday: Game Analysis

A game to circle on the calendar

banks

Every team has its know-it-all fans.

Then there are Rutgers’ fans.


Now let’s address
the other “fact”
he threw out: “They
lose two starters
at receiver.”
That’s true only
if you substitute
the word “lose”
with “return”

I don’t know if it’s because of their proximity to New York or the toxicity of New Jersey landfills near Piscataway but, per capita, the knowledge they have versus the knowledge they think they have outweighs any other fan group who has played Temple in my lifetime.

They think they are better than they are and they think they are entitled to being better than they are.

At least with Penn State fans they have something to back it up with. There are exceptions to every rule. Joe P. seems to be a reasonable Rutgers’ fan but he is the exception rather than the rule.

Take this fan for instance. His handle on Rivals is Cubuffsdoug and under it is “All-American.” Yes, he’s an All-American jackass. To me this guy sums up the typical Rutgers’ fan:

cubuffsdoug

This is the Mr. Know it All=Mr. Know Nothing that represents the Rutgers’ fan base.

Temple does not return “something like” two starters on defense.

SEPT

You know that. I know that.

He doesn’t.

Nor do many of his fellow know-it-all fans.

Doug pulled that number out of his ass because I’m holding the North Carolina game program and Temple’s defensive starters in that game included tackles Dan Archibong, Ifeanyi Maijeh, linebacker William Kwenkeu, safety Amir Tyler and cornerback Christian Braswell. All return for the 2020 season. Kwenkeu, a linebacker, was the defensive MVP  in the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl. Plus, another starter, linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley, will return after missing the last six games with an injury.

That’s six starters on defense. Six starters are not “something like” two no matter how you spin it.

Now let’s address the other “fact” he threw out: “They lose two starters at receiver.”

That’s true only if you substitute the word “lose” with “return.” In starters Branden Mack and Jadan Blue, the Owls return their all-time single-season record-setting receiver (Blue) and a guy who had the second-most catches and most touchdown catches on the team (Mack.) It’s a dynamic duo that any Big 10 team would be hard-pressed to match, let alone Rutgers.

Temple beat a team (Maryland) by three points that beat Rutgers by 41 points. Yet they think that by replacing the old coach with the new one, they can make up a 44-point difference. I don’t think so but I don’t pretend to be a know-it-all.

Right now, the Rutgers’ game is on the calendar for September 19. It’s worth circling to shut up know-it-all fans like that one.

Friday: A Primer for the Next AD

Monday: Some Early Stat Predictions

Saturday: When will we ever learn?

 

Fizzy: Temple TUFF post-Fran Brown?

Baylor had to go through this exact same thing a year ago.

Editor’s Note: Fizzy checks in after Fran Brown checked out. 

By Dave (Fizzy) Weinraub

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I coached the junior varsity at West Philadelphia High School.

As this was an inner-city school, hardly any of the guys trying out had ever played organized football. So once they had their physical exams, we had them put on pads and a helmet from a large pile, and go through some skill tests. Of course, we wanted to see who could pass and catch, but our main objective was to find the tough guys. We knew if they were tough, we’d coach them up and find the right position.

Screenshot 2019-12-09 at 8.57.34 AM

Another thing we did was give the players themselves a chance to tell us who they thought were toughest guys by secret ballot. On more than one occasion, we were surprised because we’d overlooked someone. One of my players once said, “Are you kidding? There isn’t a guy in the neighborhood who’d mess with him.”

I’m bringing this up because Temple football recruiting is now in deep trouble. Ed Foley was gone before the season began, and now Fran Brown has bolted to help Schiano rebuild the Rutgers program. These two guys had well-established relationships with high school coaches throughout the tri-state area. I can imagine there were many phone calls to Foley and Brown from High school coaches, and the conversation might have gone something like this.

“Hey Ed (Fran), you should take a look at this kid I have. He’s not on anyone’s radar, but he’s just learning the game. He didn’t come out until he was a junior because his family moved around a lot, and he got into a little trouble. This year though, he started to blossom and is going to graduate. Maybe you should invite him to one of your camps. He’s six-two, 220, and a real hard hitter. He should make a great linebacker.”

We all know the Owls hardly ever got the three and four-star recruits. And yet, this year’s talent level was damn near the equal of any other team in our conference. We got to that level because of situations and players like I just mentioned above. We recruited the late bloomers, the overlooked, and the second team all-conference players. Now, Temple doesn’t have any coach with that kind of local rapport and recruiting experience. The entire coaching staff except for Gabe Infante is from the mid-west.

Well, it is what it is now. So what do we do? One suggestion is Coach Carey quickly look over the top recruiters from the Penn State, Maryland, and Pitt coaching staff because they all heavily recruit here. Find the best. Find the money. Make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Another example is when Matt Rhule arrived at Baylor; he hired the president of the Texas coaches association. Temple football desperately needs someone with proven relationships in the tri-state area.

 If we can’t re-establish a loyal local base of feeder coaches, we’re in deep trouble. The tough kids live here.

Wednesday: The All-Hands Bowl

Friday: A close look at North Carolina

Pure Gold: Temple-Rutgers 1988

Prospectors made a dangerous trip across the continent in 1849 looking for a few nuggets of good near a mill owned by a guy named Sutter.

Different things have varying value to people but I found some real value in a Throwback Thursday post the other day from former Temple offensive lineman Ray Haynes (No. 71 in your program in the above video).

Screenshot 2019-03-01 at 4.00.15 PM

To me, the value in this Temple vs. Rutgers game (1988) was that it only existed in my memory. I was in the press box that day and remembered a lot of detail but, in my searches on the internet, was not able to find it until Ray posted it. That’s the problem with a lot of past Temple games. You can get almost every game Alabama has played in the last 50 years, but it’s almost impossible to find any Temple game film in the 1980s or before.

I used to have the national broadcast of the Garden State Bowl but I lost that tape. I hope to see it again someday.

Screenshot 2019-03-01 at 11.40.50 PM

I don’t know how Haynes got this Rutgers’ game  (maybe an old recording on a VCR) but I’m glad he did. It was a trip back into a simpler time when a road game meant not a trek across the country but a simple hour drive up Route 95 and 206. It also meant shorter trips to places like Syracuse, Penn State and West Virginia.

Maybe all of these Eastern Regional schools will one day see the logic in forming a football alliance again, but probably not in any of our lifetimes.

It also reminded me of the rivalry Temple and Rutgers used to have and how that Rutgers’ team was able to beat Penn State and Michigan State that year, but not Bruce Arians’ Owls.

Screenshot 2019-03-01 at 11.41.41 PM

It was abundantly clear how hard-fought that game was and how Bruce Arians’ teams played with a purpose, especially on offense, that made a lot of sense. To me, Arians’ schemes were more sophisticated and effective in 1988 than any of the schemes we’ve seen from Al Golden, Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins since.

Hopefully, new Temple coach Rod Carey will bring that kind of gameday expertise back to the Owls and be able to raise the level already good talent here and that will create a domino effect that begets wins and more talent.

That’s the kind of Gold maybe Pat Kraft was prospecting for when he took a chance on Carey.

Meanwhile, finding this precious memory Pure Gold.

Tuesday: The 360 Single Digit Twist

Thursday: The Season Ticket Call

Saturday: Spring Practice To-Do List

Throwback Thursday: TU beats No. 4-ranked Pitt

… Breaking News: Hawaii players are posting on their Facebook pages this morning that the game with Temple is a “done deal” and they will probably be playing the Owls on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 … a day that will live in infamy (maybe) … …

Program covers have come a long way since this Sept. 25, 1976 Temple vs. Pitt game.

Temple plays Pitt a week after a loss to Rutgers its head coach called “an embarrassment.”
October, 2012?
No.
September, 1984.
The difference then was that Pitt at the time was three weeks removed from a No. 4 preseason ranking in the country.
Temple beat Pitt, 13-12, on a field goal by a kicker named Jim Cooper.
Temple will have a kicker named Jim Cooper next year, but more on that later.
The win in 1984 gave Temple a 2-1 record on the way to a winning season under 32-year-old head coach Bruce Arians.

Story in the Allentown Morning Call the week after Temple beat Pitt.

“We were embarrassed at Rutgers, didn’t play to our ability at all,” Arians said. “We oughta be 3-0 and we know it.”
The Owls played the No. 10-toughest schedule in  the country then and its wins over East Carolina (17-0) and Pitt were sandwiched around a one-point loss to Rutgers.

Bruce Arians made a habit out of beating nationally-ranked Pitt teams.

Pitt was coming off an 8-3-1 year and maybe that influenced its inflated preseason ranking in Sports Illustrated. The Temple loss was one of four straight for Pitt (BYU, Oklahoma, Temple, West Virginia) and the Panthers never met their expectations.
At the time, it was the first win for Temple over Pitt in 39 years but Arians made sure it would not be the last.
The next week, Temple was to play Florida State and Arians fully expected to win that game, too.
“Florida State is a great opponent and it is a game we can win,” Arians said. “There’s no doubt about it. We can take the field anytime, anywhere and we have a chance to win.”

Temple’s last win over Pitt came 14 years ago.

This week, Temple renews its long-standing “rivalry” with Pitt. It’s just a one-year deal since Pitt moves to the ACC next year, but when the teams meet on Saturday it will bring back fond memories of Cooper and Arians for a lot of Temple fans. Arians beat Pitt three out of his five years as Temple’s head coach.
Later, he became well-known (and sometimes vilified) in that town as the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Still, Arians is mostly fondly remembered in Philadelphia by Temple people as an energetic young coach who did the best he could with the tools he was given.
Beating Pitt in a year it was ranked No. 4 in the preseason AP poll certainly helped foster a positive impression of Arians, who is still helping Temple football today.
Arians figuratively begat then kicker Cooper who literally begat another Cooper by the same name, Jim Cooper, Jr.
Next year, Cooper Jr. will take over the kicking duties for Steve Addazio.
If he beats Pitt, 13-12, like his dad did, it will have to be in a bowl game.
I’m sure dad and son would sign for that now but first both, being long-time Owl fans like the rest of us, just want to win the next one.

Tomorrow: Fast Forward Friday

The case for the defense

On the touchdown passes in the end zone, you can see Owls around the ball but nobody makes a play on it.

Temple’s defense experienced the worst kind of replay on Saturday, three similar touchdown passes within a seven-minute stretch of the fourth quarter.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over right there, a 21-10 Rutgers’ lead on the way to a 35-10 win.
After giving up two touchdown passes in the first quarter at Uconn, the replays are maddening familiar.
Progress, at least in this case, was the coverage.
If you look at the coverage, Owls are there. On one touchdown, it was a linebacker (Nate D. Smith) and a corner (usual lock-down left corner Anthony Robey, beaten for the first time all season for six). On another, two Owls miss tackles in the open field against Juwan Jamison, one of the best halfbacks in the conference. On another, three Owls are around the ball.
Against UConn, over the middle, nobody was.

Kevin Newsome: Too good an athlete to keep off the field.

Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater made the adjustments he needed to make at halftime to close off the middle and the rest of the field. There’s nobody better than Heater making halftime adjustments.
Problem on Saturday was there was no halftime to make adjustments and no offense to make a comeback with.
There would have been an offense if the Owls had thrown on play-action passes on first down in the opening half (see Sunday post below), but 21-10 is too large a deficit for Temple to recover from when facing the No. 15 team in the BCS standings. Throwing is a whole different story when you HAVE to throw the ball. Temple should have mixed it up in the first half, when it didn’t have to throw.
This is about the defense, though.
To me, the solution is simple: Get athletes in there who can make plays and knock the ball down and maybe even intercept it.
They don’t even have to be recruited. They are already here.
Vaughn Carraway, the starting free safety who was suspended for the Rutgers’ game because of a questionable hit (the hit looked OK to me) at UConn, will be back for Pitt.
He’s one of the athletes. I think Carraway makes the tackle on Jamison.
I’d love to see them move Carraway to one corner and move Kevin Newsome, a three-time first-team all-state safety in Virginia, from scout team quarterback to roaming the middle of the field. It’s not like the Owls don’t have Big East talent back there. Carraway, Newsome, Tavon Young, Robey and Abdul Smith are Big East talents. Heck, Newsome (PSU recruit) and Carraway (Michigan recruit) are Big 10 talents. It’s not like the Owls have to play MAC defensive backs against BE wideouts. It’s not like the brain trust at the E-O hasn’t thought about it. Newsome said as much after the Maryland game: “Coach Addazio asked me if I would play either wide receiver or safety and I said I would do anything to help the team.”
The “or safety” comment was the most intriguing to me.
What happened since? I’m told Addazio was not comfortable with only having one spread offense quarterback in reserve should starter Chris Coyer go down. When you are constantly getting beaten on jump balls in the secondary, that’s not a good enough reason for me. Heck, it’s not like if Newsome moves over to defense he won’t be available to play quarterback in a pinch.
Can you imagine how much different it would be on the back-line defense with two 6-foot-3 guys with 4.5 speed  and near 40-inch vertical jumps (Carraway and Newsome) back there to make plays?
We might be talking about three field goals and not three touchdowns.
Even with the Owls’ anemic offensive game plan, we’re also talking about a 10-9 lead going into the final quarter.
And maybe, just maybe, a 3-0 Big East record.
Is it too late to change secondary personnel?
Maybe,  but I think it’s worth a shot even at this late juncture.
Otherwise, get used to more jump balls in the end zone landing in the wrong hands.