There is no straighter path to success in college football than a large committed home fanbase.
Some head coaches understand that.
Some do not.
Fortunately, the early signs are that first-year (we can’t call him new anymore) head coach Stan Drayton understands that.
Drayton will be part of a fan tour hitting a number of places in the next few weeks and, at least for those 250,000 Temple alumni within a short driving distance from any of the above events, it will be worth networking with the new Temple head coach.
I’ve always wrote in this space that Temple is playing in too large a stadium even for a short-range alumni of 250,000 people, up to (at times) 40,000 full-time students and 12,500 full-time employees.
Simply, that’s because only about 10 percent of the above groups even are mildly interested in football.
Still, filling more than half of a stadium of 70K has always been a reasonable goal with one caveat.
Now, if Temple won consistently like the other big-time schools, maybe 40K is a floor and not a ceiling but that kind of winning has been out of reach for eight of the last 10 years.
So building a fanbase person by person is done through the kind of outreach Drayton is doing over the next month.
It is also the kind of networking the last guy from Indiana/Illinois hated.
I’ve done a number of these outreach things over the last decade. On one day in New York City when I was scheduled by the producers of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” for an interview (I was one of only two people in a group of 200 to pass a 30-question test), I noticed that five blocks down the street that night Temple was doing an alumni outreach at a swanky NYC club that featured Fran Dunphy and Steve Addazio.
I signed up for that.
The Millionaire show soon moved to Las Vegas, eliminating all the New York contestants not able to afford the trip, but the Temple show made the trip to NYC worthwhile.
My two friends from the Hardin Era introduced me to Daz and we got into a pretty good conversation about how pissed Daz was about Bernard Pierce leaving a year early and Daz telling us how he was “thisclose” to kicking Matty Brown off the team.
One of the guys then interrupted.
“Steve, Mike is the guy who writes Temple Football Forever,” he said.
“Mike, please do not write this,” Daz said.
I didn’t but I now assume the statute of limitations has expired. We won’t get into the why part but Daz had a pretty good reason to kick Matty off the team.
Fortunately, Steve didn’t do that because a few months later Brown scored the first two touchdowns in a 14-0 lead over Army that turned into a 63-32 win.
I then walked over to Dunphy and we had a terrific conversation based on the fact that one of his teammates, Lefty Ervin, was my history teacher in high school. Fran then regaled me with stories of his time at LaSalle with Ervin (also a great baseball player) and at Army with Coach K.
No nicer guy who ever coached at Temple than Fran Dunphy and coach John Chaney (who I also knew) was a great guy and a better coach.
Pretty good stuff.
Temple fans might not have an opportunity to get this close to their marquee head coaches any time or anywhere than the next few weeks and it’s well worth the time.
The current landscape is that, with opportunities for the athletes to make serious money playing for the Owls, the alumni who have deep pockets could network with these coaches to brainstorm opportunities in the fourth-largest city in America.
The others with shorter pockets?
Well, a fan base of 40K is built on a lot of things and personal interaction is vital to a loyalty factor.
Winning, of course, is at the top.
It always is.
Monday: The Breakup