In this space today, we were supposed to discuss recruiting.
That can wait for another day simply because there was a timely development over the extended weekend that put Temple playing in 21,000-seat Brooks Stadium in 2025.
It’s so rare for some real news about Temple football so we’re going to jump on this topic while it’s hot.
Now signing a 1-for-1 deal with Coastal Carolina (here, 2024, there 2025) is problematic enough but seeing the Temple Owls regress to playing in 21,000-seat stadiums is something I thought we were long past. This after Brooks Stadium increased its seating capacity from 6,400 in 2018 to 21,000 in 2019.
Something we should be long past, at least.
Yet here with are with Coastal Carolina added to a future group that includes this:
To me, getting into a Power 5 Conference should always be a long-range goal for Temple football. Temple is one of the largest universites in the nation and the country’s 6th-best producer of educated professionals.
The Owls belong in a group with Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, BC, Louisville, West Virginia and, yes, Cincinnati, and not necessarily with the Tulsas and the Tulanes.
The question has always been how to get there and television is just one advantage Temple has. If you buy the argument that Rutgers is in the New York market, there is no Power 5 team in only two of the top 10 markets: Philadelphia and Houston. USC and UCLA are in Los Angeles, Northwestern is in Chicago, TCU in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Stanford in Frisco/San Jose, Boston College in Boston, Georgia Tech in Atlanta and Maryland in D.C.
Temple’s TV ratings when on in the Philadelphia market surpass those of Penn State in the same market for seven of the last 10 times the two have been on TV opposite the other. The Temple-Notre Dame game (2015) is the most-watched college football game in the history of Philadelphia TV. Before you give credit to ND, the Irish and Penn State played three times on national TV and did not come near the Temple numbers in this massive market. Temple owns the Philadelphia market, largely due to the fact that its 35,641 full-time students, 12,500 full-time employees and 175,000 of its living 279,000 graduates still reside in it.
The answer, though, is that TV is just not enough. If it were, Temple would be in the ACC by now. Mix TV success in with attracting fannies in the seats and that moves Temple to the head of the P5 prospect class.
Attract 50,000 fans a game to Lincoln Financial Field or in excess of 30,000 fans a game to an on-campus stadium and do it over a long period, perhaps a decade.
That’s why it’s called a long-term goal.
How to do it?
Schedule and beat Power 5 teams. Scheduling and beating Power 5 teams is something Temple used to do (Maryland, 2011, 2018 and 2019), Vanderbilt (2014), and Penn State (2105) on a fairly regular basis. Four of those five games were blowouts. The Owls did by successfully recruiting against P5 schools in half of the Al Golden and Matt Rhule classes and filling those classes by “trusting the film” and recruiting “tough kids” like Tyler Matakevich and Haason Reddick who eventually became NFL players. They did it by emphazing the run, shortening the game, being tougher than teams with better talent.
By doing so, Temple had the second-highest percentage increase in the nation in attendance (from an average of 15K in 2008 to 29K in 2019) of any team, either P5 or G5. Temple football is one of the underrated success stories of this century and the Owls didn’t do it by beating Stony Brook and Bucknell.
How not to ever have a chance of being invited to the Big Boys’ table? Do what Temple is doing now.
Scheduling Coastal Carolina, Idaho, Lafayette, Wagner, Norfolk State, Rhode Island is the right turn on the road to oblivion. A home game against, say, Vandy, puts 10K more fans in the seats than one against Lafayette. Home games against regional foes like Rutgers and Pitt would put even more fannies in the stands. Winning those games attracts attention from the larger conferences.
Another way of not doing it is playing the P5 teams and going with an RPO offense that stops the clock and gives more talented teams needless extra possessions.
Beating Power 5 teams, as we found in the last two bowl games, is hard. As JFK said about the Moon landing, we don’t do it because it’s easy but because it is hard.
By scheduling the Coastal Carolinas of the world, it looks like Temple is taking the easy way out. Temple should be better than that.
Saturday: Recruiting Patterns