Somewhere, H. Shindle Wingert and Horace Butterworth are smiling.
Depending upon your beliefs, they are floating up on a cloud looking down smiling or decaying skeletons under a load of dirt looking up with a fixed grin.
That’s because, when it comes to football team records at Temple University, they are going to be the only coaches who will still have bragging rights over current head football coach Matt Rhule at the end of this 2015 season.
If the Owls finish strong, they will have the most wins and, perhaps, the fewest losses of any team in Temple football history. They can accomplish one—most wins—by still losing another game, if they win the Dec. 5 AAC championship game. To accomplish both, they will have to win out and that is the preferable option right now.
Still, the Owls cannot win out without the laser-type focus they have spent on each and every game this season. The hashtags #LeaveNoDoubt and #What’sNext has served them well and, if they follow that mindset, all they should be thinking about is the next game, Saturday, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network) at beautiful but at least half-empty Raymond James Stadium against South Florida.
Because the next win will mark the first time the Owls have ever been 9-1 since 1973. The 1979 team went into State College and was a 3.5-point favorite over a Penn State team that would eventually
finish 8-4. They led, 7-6, at halftime on a 64-yard touchdown run by a slippery halfback named Kevin Duckett. Things fell apart in the second half and the Owls left that stadium 8-2.
In terms of team records, the Owls are already the first team in Temple history to have gone 7-0. Being the first team to go 9-1 in more than 30 years would be especially sweet because it would clinch the AAC East, which would be the first title of any kind since the Owls won the MAC East in 1967.
While the Owls have bigger goals than that, following the what’s next and leave no doubt processes have delivered some ancillary rewards that they can revel in when the season is over. As far as individual awards, quarterback P.J. Walker is only two touchdown passes away from tying the school record held by “Smiling” Hank (better known as Henry) Burris and two rushing touchdowns from tying Burris’ school record.
That’s fitting because the first time I saw P.J., I said his style of play reminds me more of Henry Burris than any other Temple quarterback and that’s a high compliment indeed.
Harry Shindle Wingert, who went 2-0-1 in 1905, and Horace Butterworth, who went 4-0-2 two years later, can have their perfect seasons if the Owls are able to leave Florida with that historically elusive 9-1 mark.