Throwback Thursday: Rivalry Once


Bruce Arians with one of the greatest free safeties (and punt returners) in Temple history, Anthony Young. Remember when Temple used to return punts?

When Bruce Arians was at Temple and not Tempe like he is now, he used to tell a story about how Mississippi State and Mississippi—even though they were the two large in-state schools–were never rivals. Mississippi State got close a lot of times, but never could get quite over that elusive hump.
“Then one year when I was there  (at Mississippi State) we beat them and it became a rivalry,” Arians said.

Proof in black and white that the teams were rivals once.

Proof in black and white that the teams were rivals once.

Arians’ point was made. To forge a rivalry, you’ve got to win once in awhile.
Penn State vs. Temple is not a rivalry anymore, but it once was as shown in this headline (inset) after the win in 1941. Both schools are large state-related schools, one in the middle of the state, one in the state’s largest city. The only reason why the rivalry did not continue is that Temple went on the cheap in trying to hire head coaches after Pop Warner. Only when it hired a big-name coach (Wayne Hardin) did the Owls have a sustained 13-year period of success.
Arians was on his way at Temple until the school fired him and he got close to beating Penn State but, like Mississippi State before Arians became an assistant  there, could never quite get over the hump.
In his first press conference, some wiseguy reporter asked him, “Why does Temple even play football?” Arians shot back, “to beat Penn State.” It was a great answer and Mitten Hall, the site of that first presser, erupted into loud applause.

“Why does Temple
even play football?
To beat Penn State.”
_ Bruce Arians

That was one of the goals Bruce set forth when he took the job at Temple. He felt the fastest way to put Temple on the map was to beat Penn State, become rivals, then have a sales pitch for recruits. With under-recruited players, Arians almost did that a couple of times. His first game against Penn State was a 23-18 loss. In another, Paul Palmer rushed for 206 yards in a 25-22 loss.
He never quite got there, but no doubt Arians—still a Temple fan to this day and friends with many of his ex-Temple players, like Palmer, Kevin Jones and Sheldon Morris—will be sending congratulatory texts their way if Temple is able to pull off the upset on Saturday.

Hmm. Daz checking in?

Hmm. Daz checking in?

Last year, in a press conference after the win over the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, a reporter asked Arians if that was his biggest win ever as a head coach. Arians paused and said, “No when I was at Temple, the win over Pitt, which was the first time the school had beaten Pitt in 39 years, that was the my biggest one.”
There is only one bigger one to get at the school and Arians left that for Matt Rhule to grab in a few hours and restart a rivalry that should have never ended.


14 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Rivalry Once

  1. Arians would have won the 25-22 game had he told his punt returner to just catch the ball. As I recall, they had two late fumbles by the punt returner. PSU had no answer for Paul Palmer and the o-line knocked out several PSU defensive lineman. Again Tu was close but could not get over the hump.

    • you have a good memory. I remember Paul going off in that game and the wraparound draw (a favorite play of coach Hardin that Bruce picked up for watching old Temple tapes) working like a charm. Don’t think we’ve tried one wraparound draw or shovel pass this year. Good plays.

  2. watching the east carolina game. pirates went up 20-17 on a reverse off a fake option. don’t think we’ve seen that play this year at Temple, either (in fact, I know we haven’t). There are probably 100 good plays other teams have run this season that we won’t see at Temple. But I hear we are recruiting well in Florida and x’s and o’s don’t matter if you have jimmies and joes.

    • Mike that seems to be all there is to the process, I mean this team is still in the hunt for a bowl, probably the best opportunity against PSU since the 2011 game and there is a new thread on the other board discussing recruiting needs. A little more with the X’s and O’s last week and this team is a game out of first in the conference. What I find interesting in all of these posts is that when you look at even the most ardent Rhule supportes deep down mustn’t think he is a good coach, all they ever talk about is recruiting. So I guess if you feel he will consistently be recruiting the top class in the AAC every year and Temple wins on the Jimmies and Joes alone, the X’s and O’s are going to have to be a factor in the process

  3. After watching the ECU – Cincinnati game Option 3 for the 1 choice poll: Beat Tulane, finish 6-6 and 6th place in the conference. With no AAC getting access to the playoff bowls, miss out on AAC bowl tie-ins and hope to qualify for a bowl where the affiliated conferences don;t have enough eligible members.

    • after tulane beat houston and penn state went on a 4-game losing streak before beating indiana, it occurred to me that the rigors of the season plus the lack of depth in the psu program have made tulane a better overall team than psu right now. we better buckle the chin straps and win this weekend or all we’ll hear about the the next 13 months is how five wins was such a great improvement over 2013 (when we should have won 5 in 2013 and jumped to 7 this year). still think we’re beating penn state, though.

      • Agree with you on that. One thing that I noticed in last night’s game, while I’m not disputing that Temple’s overall roster is young with regards to seniors, on a lot of plays for both ECU and Cincinnati, you heard “true freshman”, “red shirt freshman”, just saying how other programs seem to be able to get young players contributing right away.

  4. Very nice article Mike. Informative, comparative to tomorrows game, retrospective and sentimental. Yes, there was a time when Temple was D-back U. I like your enthusiasm for a win this weekend but I’m so used to PSU pulling it out no matter what, I feel that it’ll just happen again. Hope I’m wrong tho. Our D could shut them down – its the scoring against their solid D that’s the big concern. As I’ve said, few mistakes (of any sort) and a couple sustained drives could do it.

  5. Also, I agree with your assessment of shoulda beens – 5 wins last year, 7 this year, but hopefully we’re just one season behind what shoulda been, meaning 7 wins next year. Again we’re all just frustrated as hell.

    • Jon, I hope so too for next year. Starting defense will have a bunch of seniors and with any luck some guys like Kirkwood and Thompson will be a bigger part of the passing game with a full off season and spring practice along with some of the red shirts this year. Will be tough to take any excuses next year for anything less than 7 wins, after all Memphis arguably was a much worse team than Temple the past 5 seasons and now in Fuente’s 3rd year with the program, 2nd in the AAC, challenging for the conference title.

  6. Great Article. Bruce Arians made only one bad play call that I recall at Temple. Do you recall the call?

    Arians is great enough to pull off a “Hostetle” and earn a SNL skit.

  7. “Hostetler” left out the r.

  8. PSU’s fans are all claiming victory because of their fantastic run defense. They’re used to choking us to death by putting 8 in the box year in and year out. However, we’ve got Friend, Mike keeps reminding us of the quality blockers we have in the backfield, we have a brand new weapon at TE who can block and catch, and if they’re stacking the box we might just get that separation Mike’s been hoping and praying for, especially if those godawful three wides were to feature, say, Deloatch/Herbin/Kirkwood some of the time.

    I think this year we’ve got the matchup. Sure, Hackenberg could be on his game but even if he’s throwing it well he’s no speedster and we will put him in the dirt- it only takes one turnover to break a tight game.

    • this makes me think hack won’t be on his game. Praise and sharif meeting at the quarterback after averee, matt, brandon and hershey getting a good push up the middle. as far as offense goes, we’ve gotten zero separation in 3-4 wides against everybody but del. state and to run those same formations against penn state is sheer insanity. hopefully, we mix it up more and give them Temple looks they have not seen on film.

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