This space was supposed to be occupied today by a discussion about a new twist to the Temple single-digit tradition.
We’ll get to that some other day because that seems so insignificant now.
Al Shrier, the Temple Sports Information Director before I was born and the school’s SID through my education at Temple and much of my subsequent career in the sports writing business, has taken his famous briefcase to the other side.
Legend is a word thrown around far too much these days, but Al Shrier was a legend in the way the word was meant to be used.
The news that Shrier passed away was incredibly sad for anyone at Temple and elsewhere who has ever had a positive interaction with him, in my case several hundred.
I wrote here several years ago that Skip Wilson, the long-time baseball coach, belongs on Temple’s Mount Rushmore with Wayne Hardin, John Chaney, Harry Litwack and Al Shrier.
People were somewhat taken aback that I put a SID on that mountain, but that’s where Shrier belonged. For a long time before Hardin or Chaney or even Wilson got there, Shrier was, if not the face, the mouthpiece of Temple sports.
Only Litwack, the basketball coach, pre-dated him.
Putting sports, the front porch of any university, out there in a positive light was Shrier’s job and he did it extraordinarily well. He set the standard for all SIDs to follow. He was named the nation’s top SID four times and is a member of five Halls of Fame: the CoSIDA Hall of Fame:, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame, the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
That doesn’t even begin to tell his story because you would need a thick volume to do that.
As a former sports editor of the Temple News, Shrier had an especially soft spot for those who followed him in the same spot. Some of them included Ray Didinger, Phil Jasner, Dick Weiss, Joe Juliano, Craig Evans, Mike Ferretti and a host of accomplished journalists. Somewhere in there, I spent a stint on what was then a 7-day-a-week job to put out a daily from Monday through Friday that took up more of my time than my full course load.
Nobody helped me more than Al, who arranged interviews and trips for us with the teams. Later, as the Temple beat writer for Calkins Newspapers, Al made sure I had a seat on every football charter flight, often calling me before I called him.
As late as 2012, Shrier still had a hand in making decisions at Temple. He took then-athletic director Bill Bradshaw aside the second time Matt Rhule applied for the head football coaching job and said, “Bill, listen to me. Hire. Matt. Rhule.”
Bradshaw said it wasn’t until that moment he made the decision and he told that story at Matt Rhule’s opening press conference. Four years later, Temple was rewarded with its first-ever major football championship because of that decision.
Ironically, because he was reluctant to fly, Al only made the road games he could drive to but he still made sure the Temple story was told. Everywhere he went, he had his legendary briefcase. He never told anyone what he carried in that.
That was probably the first question St. Peter asked a few hours ago.
Thursday: Single-Digit Twists