If the Temple Board of Trustees are men of their word, and there is no reason to doubt them, seven sports that were cut this past week won’t be coming back to Temple.
That’s a shame. It’s sad. It’s also not surprising.
Anyone who has been a season ticket-holder in football, like I have for the past 30 or so years, knows apathy follows Temple sports like a huge dark shadow. When I attended the basketball game against Charlotte at the LC earlier this year, the first thing I said when I sat in my seat was: “Where are all the fans?” That was during a weeknight when there were 12,500 students living on campus and only a couple hundred felt moved to walk two feet outside their dorms to the game. The “official” attendance was about 4,000 in a state-of-the-art 10,000-seat on-campus arena.
In football, Wayne Hardin might have said it best when someone asked him if Temple would ever fill Veterans Stadium.
“For us to do that, we have to have 10 straight winning seasons,” said Hardin, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.
The best he could do was four. I hope Matt Rhule rips off 10 straight winning seasons starting in less than a year so we can finally test coach Hardin’s theory.
I will say this: Gavin White Sr. and Gavin White Jr. have brought the university a significant amount of glory and I was rather shocked that men’s crew was part of the cuts. When I lived in Center City, I always made it to the Dad Vail Regatta and it was great to hear the roar of the crowd when the Temple Varsity Eight crossed the finish line first, which was many, many times. I played pick-up basketball with Gavin and Gavin Jr. when they lived in Northeast Philadelphia on the OLC courts and they were both quite good back in the day.
One year, there was a crowd estimated at 35,000 on the banks of the Schuylkill cheering the Owls on to victory. Other years, the team was invited to the prestigious Henley Regatta and got the university some significant and positive publicity by beating up a group of Skinheads in Downtown London. People say John Chaney invented the term Temple tough (since becoming Temple TUFF), but that trip to Henley came around the start of Chaney’s Temple career and gave Temple athletes a reputation for toughness.
Temple baseball had a great coach in Skip Wilson and he took the team to the College World Series twice in the 1970s. Temple and St. John’s were the premier college baseball programs on the East Coast for much of that decade, but the 1970s was a long time ago and there was no ESPN to televise the CWS then.
All in all, the announcement of Olympic sports cuts was the capper to a pretty heartbreaking year for Temple sports, from a chance to upset No. 1 Indiana in basketball slipping away to the Hail Mary heartbreakers the team experienced in football. I’ve got to wonder if any college football team has ever lost in the fashions below.
Just once, I’d love to see Temple win on a Hail Mary pass. Maybe at Penn State. Our luck would be the Big 10 refs would call it back for a phantom hold.
I don’t think any group of fans and players ever had to go through this much heartbreak: