Plenty of things to like at Cherry and White

Former Temple running back Marc Baxter (here with former TU LB Bobby Harrington), wins the best Temple swag award at this year’s tailgate. I asked Marc where he got the shirt and he said at the Temple bookstore and that it was a Temple ice hockey shirt. (Photos courtesy of Bobby Harrington)

Every good story needs a protagonist and antagonist and, after arriving about three hours early for the Cherry and White game, I did a lot of looking for both.

Having found none 2 1/2 hours in, I entered the Edberg-Olson Football Complex, sat down with my bag of Temple swag (everyone knows Cherry and White is the best place to get Temple stuff), looked at my watch and found out the game was a half-hour away.

That was still time to find an antagonist so I carried my Temple swag bag back to my car to put it in the trunk (I missed the train so decided to drive and parked the car on Broad Street) and used the half-hour to walk through campus.

I was hoping to find the same police presence throughout the rest of the campus that existed around the E-O (plenty of security at 10th and Diamond). Fortunately, the rest of the campus was more locked down than I’ve seen it in the last five years.

The new “Senior Leadership Team” appears to be serious about safety on campus and that’s a good sign.

Still, couldn’t find a single bad guy as Joe Greenwood’s tailgate was kicking it strong.

Walked back to the game and found my antagonist: The game itself.

Sitting there in the far end zone I realized how far the “football experience” of Cherry and White has fallen since I first started going to this game at old Temple Stadium in the 1970s.

Back then, there was one team (The Cherry) against another team (The White) and it was a real game with four quarters, the first-team offense playing against a second-team defense and a first-team defense playing against a second-team offense. Touchdowns were six points, an extra point was one, a field goal was three, and a safety was two.

You know, like a regular game. None of this new math.

Seemed fair to me.

Cherry and White was a little colder than usual and that kept the crowd in the 2,000-people range, about 2/3rds of the usual size.

Four quarters. The team that scored the most won.

Now, ostensibly for the reason of “avoiding injuries,” the game is broken up into something only slightly resembling real football.

If you can figure out who won with this criteria, you were a math major:

Touchdown = 6 points
Field Goal = 3 points
2-point Conversion = 2 points
Extra Point = 1 point
Explosive Play (Run of 12+ yards/Pass of 18+ yards) = 3 points
Two or more first downs on a drive = 1 point

Three and Out = 1 point
Sack = 2 points
Missed Field Goal = 3 points
Turnover = 3 points
4th Down Stop or 2-point Conversion Stop = 3 points
Defensive Touchdown = 6 points
TFL = 1 point
Stopped Drive = 1 point

5-yard penalty = -1 point
10-yard penalty = -2 points
15-yard penalty = -4 points

Adding all that up, the Cherry offense beat the White defense, 65-28.

I wonder if any team in college football plays a real game anymore in the spring? I doubt it.

Those concerns never existed in the 1970s and 1980s when the two greatest Temple players, Joe Klecko on defense, and Paul Palmer on offense, never missed a game as a result of spring practice participation.

Only now it’s a concern and I think it’s an overblown one. We haven’t seen a “real game” (with kickoff and punt returns) since Al Golden’s second season and that was in April of 2007, some 16 years ago.

I realized that I’ve been to this game in Mount Airy, South Philadelphia, Ambler, and three spots on Temple’s campus (I did not make the one time the game was at Cardinal O’Hara). Always a great time with great people and great food and even better music (thanks to the DJ).

Despite the “glorified practice” I came out of there thinking Temple hasn’t had this much talent in at least half a decade. Are there concerns? Certainly two come to mind: The running game doesn’t have a bonafide stud like Bernard Pierce, Jahad Thomas or Ryquell Armstead. The new defensive coordinator, Everett Withers, while a great friend of head coach Stan Drayton, doesn’t have a good record in places where his sole job was DC. From a player standpoint, the Owls have talent pretty much everywhere else.

Owls have always looked good playing against the Owls. In a few months, playing the bad guys starts. For the first time in five years, I feel sorry for the bad guys.

They are the real antagonists and that story is yet to be written.

Friday: Why it’s Bowl or Bust?