When the Bruce Arians’ crew made the trip to Florham Park over the weekend for the first full day of New York Jets’ training camp, the contingent of ex-Temple players were treated like the champions they were.
The fact that Temple has a head coach in the NFL, Todd Bowles, cannot be minimized. Hopefully, Matt Rhule can use it as a recruiting tool. He already has the support of Arians’ players, guys like Sheldon Morris, Kevin Jones, Joe Greenwood and Paul Palmer and hopefully that kind of networking will work in Temple’s favor over the next few years.
No, Arians’ players did not win the Big East—there wasn’t even a Big East back then—but they helped put Temple on the national football map by having two winning seasons in three years against two schedules that were ranked No. 10 in the country.
Think about that for a moment. Back then, Temple played a schedule equal or superior to the current powers the SEC, PAC-10,and Big 10 and more than held its own. It did so practicing on a rock-strewn field (now the Student Pavilion) when Geasey Field was taken over by the lacrosse or field hockey teams of the day. The weight room was located next to a bowling alley in the basement of McGonigle Hall.
When Arians was asked if beating the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks was the biggest win of his career–he was the last team to beat them before they won the 2014 Super Bowl–he stopped the press conference by saying no. “My biggest win was when I was at Temple, beating Pitt for the first time in 39 years,” Arians said.
Through it all, they beat Pitt three out of five years, beat West Virginia, blew out a Virginia Tech team that won 10 games and a Toledo team that was 9-2-1. They had a Heisman Trophy runner-up in Palmer, who should have been a Heisman Trophy winner. They went down to East Carolina and shut out the Pirates, 17-0. Even in those days, places like Pitt, West Virginia and Virginia Tech had multi-million dollar dedicated practice facilities but Temple did more with less.
It had to.
Arians built his teams around a great running game with a great blocking fullback and hopefully Rhule can take something from that formula, which has been the way Temple has played football for a long time. Arians had an eye for good quarterbacks, like Lee Saltz, Tim Riordan and Matty Baker.
The guys who played for him have always been “tight as a fist” and it was good to see them enjoying and supporting their former teammate the other day.