Two Ways to Look at This


Look how far off the boundary corner is. One 3d and 3, Anderson had the same cushion on the other side  later in the game. Take it, and Owls have a new set of downs with 7:18 left and a possible 24-21 deficit.


There are two ways to look at Temple’s 24-13 loss to Houston on Saturday.

There is the Kumbaya view and the real world view. The Kumbaya view seems to have carried the day in the post-game Matt Rhule press conference and on much of social media. You know, “I’m proud of the kids” and “this is one of the greatest days in Temple football history” and “we’ve gone from point D to point A.”


That’s born out of T-ball mentality. You know, there are no losers and everybody gets a trophy for participation. Little Johnny goes home with a pat on his head. The coaches are great. The kids are great. We’re all just so darn proud of everybody.



Then there is the real world view. You know, the “what the hell is going on out here?” view.

The last quarter was a cluster, err, bleep that made you wonder what goes on at the $17 million Edberg-Olson Complex the other six days of the week. In the last seven minutes, Temple showed itself either unwilling or incapable of running a functional two-minute drill that every high school, college and pro team seems to run efficiently.  (If you don’t believe it, take a look at the way St. Joseph’s Prep runs it. The offensive line sprints to the ball. Plays are called at the line, not looking over to the sidelines, with the emphasis on a short passing game to get out of bounds and stop the clock. Prep coach Gabe Infante is only seven blocks away. Invite him over this week.)


That was a blown opportunity to win a championship due to a number of brain cramps by the coaching staff.  There is no guarantee that the Owls will be back in the title game next year and, if they aren’t, the coaches have no one but themselves to blame for a number of perplexing offensive miscues.  With four minutes left, they seemed incapable of running a true two-minute offense, taking precious seconds off the clock on every play by having the kids stare over to the sidelines for plays. Those 20, 30 seconds a play add up and, before you know it, the game is over.

That wasn’t the worst. This is the worst.

After closing the gap to 24-13 with 7:18 to go in the game, the Owls had a 3d and 3 at the Houston 38 but inexplicably attempted a long pass into the end zone. The call was made even more confounding because Houston was playing 10 yards off Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson on the play.  A simple pitch and catch would have moved the sticks.

Moving the sticks then would have cured a lot of earlier self-imposed ills. Early on, the players had just as much to do with it as the coaches did but after fighting back they deserved a coaching staff that was more focused. The Owls have been a team all year whose motto was to not beat themselves by turning the ball over, but on their first drive of the game, quarterback P.J. Walker threw an interception. That resulted in a 7-0 lead. The Owls were driving for a tying touchdown when Anderson—who caught 12 passes for 150 yards—was fighting for yardage and fumbled the ball on the Houston 5-yard-line. That led to a 10-0 lead.

Had the Owls moved the sticks on 3d and 3, instead of taking the shot into the end zone, they might have scored to make it 24-21 and that would have left seven minutes to bleep around with the dog stare offense. Instead, they followed that botched call with a clinic in mismanaging the clock and never had a chance to find out what would have happened.

While the physical errors by the unpaid amateurs could be forgiven, the mental ones by the well-paid professionals cannot.

Tomorrow:  Thoughts on the Bowl Lotto

Tuesday: …. But the Big Story on Action News Is …

Wednesday: Houston Photo Gallery

Thursday: One Wacky Throwback

Friday: Matakevich’s Special Moment on ESPN

Saturday: A Look at the Other AAC Bowls

Sunday: Welcome Criticism

Monday (12/12): 5 Things the Owls Have to Clean Up

Tuesday: The Fallacy of the Fall Off

Wednesday: The Problem With Watch Parties

Thursday: The Pitt-Navy Monkey Wrench


52 thoughts on “Two Ways to Look at This

  1. First of all the Owls played a team with marginally better talent and coaching. While much of what you reference in your article is accurate the bottom line is Houston is a better team. You could reduce this game to the simple fact they have an outstanding QB while Temples is merely serviceable.

    The same could be said of coaching. MR is still learning to be a big time coach and quite honestly I think has ramping up pretty quickly. There certainly are several scenarios in which temple could have won but the reality is we wound need to have our A-game while Houston showed up with something less. Overall this was a helluva a season for the Owls. I wish the team good luck in whatever bowl we end up in.

    • So do I. I just wish they would not take shots into the end zone on 3d and 3. Quick pitch and catch to Robby, then get a new set of downs.

      • I want to give Houston credit. They certainly did what they needed to do to keep us out of rhythm offensively. Houston has probably the best defense we faced all season. Even with the coaches calling the plays, the D was confusing PJ. To expect him to all the sudden make the right calls during the two minute offense is a bit much. As I mentioned in a previous thread he is a game manager. When he is asked to do more the results are rarely good for Temple.

        I think you can be critical and still look at the positives of the situation. The offense will likely be better next year as many key contributors are returning, the D is losing some guys but there seem to be some good guys waiting behind them, and the coaching staff should return intact. Hopefully, we pull in a few more nice recruits and keep things rolling. Plus our schedule looks to setup very favorably next year. We get our hardest conference games at home. What looks to be our hardest conference road game will be Memphis and with Fuente gone and Lynch probably declaring they will likely take a step back.

        In the end, Rome wasn’t built in a day and Temple is still headed in the correct direction.

        Now let’s just get that football stadium built the right way.

  2. Mike agree with you on the Kumbaya mentality I was reading on social media, I don’t post things critical of the players, they aren’t professionals but the coaches are a different matter. Especially after this week, as I posted on another site I feel Temple football has crossed the rubicon. The team is playing with the big boys now and with that come higher expectations and more pointed criticism. An environment where Richt was fired at GA, Les Miles almost canned at LSU for not meeting expectations. In or own conference Levine let go at Houston after 2 8-5 bowl winning seasons. Plus Rhule seemed more than willing to play at this level with all the Missouri talk. So yes I’m going to criticize poor game planning like we saw yesterday, question things like why our recruiting seems to be regressing, why Houston’s Oline dominated with 3 freshman starting test we have several offensive lineman that were rated well who can’t even dress most game, etc.
    Of course, I look at this as a good season and one where the team got a step further than it had been able to do in the past, now it has the goal of finishing that job and in that regard outside of what Rhule does on his end the admin needs to start their clock ticking. If the team doesn’t win an. AAC championship in the next 2 to 3 years then time to move on with the “next coach up”

    • I agree the team came out seemingly unprepared for this game but think the idea of running a clock on Rhule at this time is ridiculous. Temple just enjoyed the best season in their history and generated unprecedented awareness for the university. The fact of the matter is we aren’t a P5 university and if MR and company can put together seasons like this in the future they should have lifetime employment. I think the biggest disappointment this season has been the inability to capitalize on all this publicity in recruiting.

      I lived through the disasterous termination of Bruce Arians and the long nightmare that followed.

      • Don’t if lifetime employment exists at the FBS level anymore but I get what you are saying. My point is, if Rhule and the University put together a contract extension that works for both and he does turn out to be “that guy who will stay” as so many kept repeating then that’s great. If on the other hand we have a similar season in 2016 and looking at the schedule even with an improved east, I can see 8 to 10 wins, and another good year in 2017 and we end up in the same place we were last weekend that’s what I’m talking about. If it becomes another “pony up” time for the admin and that does seem to be the nature of the beast these days, then the expectations on the staff need to be at a much higher level.
        Do feel the same regarding recruiting so far this year

      • Nobody is putting a clock on Rhule. We just want him to use the one he has more efficiently. It’s OK to call him out on that. He’s a big boy.

    • the only reason Houston had 3 freshman starting on the OL was because they had a rash of injuries among their OL. they have nobody else to start except the freshman where as Temple OL is mostly upperclassmen so the young guys have to wait there turn.

  3. Mike, thought the same thing on the third and three call. It was a pure Satterfield call, something that I thought had been purged from the team. PJ’s interception was unforgivable especially because he committed the same error in the SFU game. He’s too experienced to have committed such a boneheaded error. And again, the lack of team speed on defense was quite evident. Over all though, as depressing as the loss is, the Owls had a very good year. In fact, any year you beat PSU is a very good year.

  4. Mike, in the end I decided the Temple season was fun/good/entertaining/yet frustrating. I think coach Rhule will decide on QB next year based on honest competition. I was both happy and sad to have to TV voices yesterday point out the poor form and foot direction of our QB Nbr 11. I could sense this problem in many games this year as many passes were simply not good form.If we had better luck or execution we may have been able to defeat UH.
    Last 7 minutes were a total pain to watch with those stupid lineup halt and looks to sidelines. Why bother with the initial huddle then ? Really stupid stuff.
    Still, a wonderful season.

    • Watching PJ I felt that he was playing scared because he was throwing off his back foot. That why his passes were so off target. But for some highlight catches and two dropped interceptions, he would have had a horrendous day.

  5. It amazes me how some success so quickly leads to expectations maybe higher than should be expected. Could Temple have won that game? Yeah they were in it. They held a team that averaged 40-some points a game to just 24. Houston’s QB is exceptional but Temple’s D held him down into the 4th quarter giving them a chance to catch up. But the truth is, Temple is where they’re at, like it or not. Some poor coaching, “unnecessary” mistakes by the players, that’s all human imperfections. To me the biggest imperfection is us fans expecting a Cadilac performance with Malibu level coaches, players (overall), facilities, fan base, etc. Yeah, Temple “could” have won but the fact is they didn’t because they shouldn’t have. The wouldas are about the coaches and players. Maybe they didn’t do as well as they coulda, but fact is Houston is just a better coached team with better overall players. I still maintain one very good season doesn’t prove the future will be better – it’s a crap shoot. This is Temple! Let’s just hope next year is a 7 or better wins season with another bowl and see where it goes from there. If it isn’t, everyone jumped the gun on Rhule. We get so carried away with our emotions. But y’know? This was fun THIS year and we all just want some length to this success. Go Owls. Win your bowl game and break that season win record! You were great this year no matter what.

  6. Any idea when Temple’s bowl will be known?

  7. i think anyone who attended the game would agree on a few things:
    1. Temple is as physical and athletically talented as Houston. We outhit Houston
    2. The game came down to the two turnovers, the pick PJ threw was off his back foot; and Houston just took the ball from RAnderson.
    3. PJ could not audible because of the crowd noise, I have never been to a stadium that loud.., the WRs could not hear the play call; and several times we snapped the ball and the WRs had to look back into the backfield to see if it was a run or pass. the Houston fans are awesome…, every Temple third down was unbelievable loud all game
    4. Houston had an outstanding defensive game plan, take away the run by playing 8 in the box and force you to beat the with the pass. Their corners are tremendous at the bump and run. PJ missed several throws in the first quarter, and forced the ball into very tight coverage.

    I came away with the feeling that Temple would have won this game at a neutral site or in Philly

  8. Okay, a couple problems with our bowl tie ins.

    1) Doesn’t seem right to me that the Military Bowl gets a P5 opponent when they will always take Navy over more deserving teams.

    2) The Birmingham Bowl is a poor place for another P5 opponent.
    A. Why is one of the conference’s better bowl matchups in Alabama? No offense to Birmingham, but the Boca Raton Bowl makes so much more sense for a higher tier bowl. Would you rather go to Birmingham, AL or Boca Raton, FL?
    B. The American is one of the most spread out conferences in the country, so we get screwed because so many of our conference mates are in the South and are going to get preference to Birmingham.

    • our “D” can stop Toledo.., we need to think about how our offense can move the ball consistently against teams who play 8 in the box.., the bubble screen and pass to an RB in the flat was open all day against Houston but were never called.., would like to see Nutile get some snaps.., Houston was not the best team we have played all year and unfortunately we came out in the first quarter…, our offense has become too predictable.., screen passes, draws, RB passes in the flat would open things up and have less risks than straight drop backs

      • I don’t know if you were trying to reply to me or someone else. I didn’t say anything about our inability to compete with Toledo. I just don’t like having to play Toledo at all. If we beat Toledo it makes almost no impression on public perception of the Owls especially on the 22nd of December when no one is paying attention to college football. If we lose the couple of people who even notice are going to think “there is the Temple we know.” We are 50% against P5 schools this year and I want another chance for the Owls to prove that they can compete with those schools. We just have so little to gain by playing Toledo in an exhibition game.

      • Nutile will get snaps in 2017!

  9. agree Tractorr but we will finish the season in the Top 25 with a win.., the AAC has the leftovers with regards to bowls, but you have to play the cards you are dealt.., finishing the season in the Top 25 is huge and means we’ll probably start next season in the Top 25…, i’m still pissed because although Houston is a great team we could have beaten them at home or a neutral site..,

    • I was saying the week before last that we really needed the cards to fall our way to get the championship here. Temple just does not play as well on the road. Our guys just get fired up in front of the home crowd.

  10. So Temple will play a directional school in front of friends and family in a glorified HS Stadium while Penn State plays an SEC school. Yup, gotta love the American. What was that about “playing with the big boys”?

    • Temple will finish in the Top 25 with a win, PSU will not. If we can’t figure out how to leverage finishing in the Top 25 then shame on us

      • Leverage? Come to Temple…we beat TOLEDO in a Bowl that only exists because a sponsor overpaid for the title rights! Ah, tradition!

      • Shawn Pastor, who is usually wired in on these type of things, said Temple had its pick of Independence Bowl, Birmingham and Boca. If TU did, it picked the wrong one.

    • And despite bring ranked and a Divisional Champion, Temple may have received the worst (as in MAC Conference) matchup of any AAC team that is “bowling”. Even 6-6 UCONN plays Marshall. What the hell do we have to do to get some RESPECT?!

      • hey guys, remember Toledo was ranked ahead of Temple early this season and was favored to win a NY6 slot…, bowl games are in part decided by how many fans you can bring to the venue.., it just so happens Temple has more fan interest and alums in the Fort Lauderdale area than Miami, Tampa Bay, or St Peter…, now having said that we would not have be having this conversation had we beaten Houston…,

        the most important thing for us right now is to win another game and finish in the Top 25…,

        to everyone, please join the Owl Club if you are not already a member, and if you are a member, GO Owls!

      • Yeah, Toledo beat Arkansas who went on to beat Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU, and Tenn. Toledo is definitely a better team than Marshall this year.

        The American’s bowl tie ins are really not that much better than the other G5s.

    • Penn St travels better than us! Bowls r all about who brings the most fans!

  11. The Owls showed a lot of guts and heart, but it’s tough to overcome those early cherry turnovers. You lose, you learn – Alanis Morissette

    • Yes, despite all of the turnovers, they still had a chance to cut it to 24-21 on the H38 with 7:18 left and inexplicably threw a bomb into the end zone than using two downs to get three yards. That put them in the untenable position on 4th down.

  12. Looking ahead on the five things the Owls have to clean up:
    1. Kick off and punt returns – catch the damn football, and bring it back; we haven’t had a threat since Delano Green
    2. Develop and execute a Plan B for the offense when the opposing D puts 8 guys in the box
    3. Always bring Hooter to away games.., it is only one seat on the charter plane, bump a trustee if you have to.., we are on TV almost every game, and we are growing a sizable traveling fan base
    4. Wear the Cherry helmets every game and bring back the diamond helmet stickers to recognize and promote excellence
    5. Two minute drill.., the offense should get in the mindset of owning the last two minutes before the half and end of the game if we are behind. put Satterfield on notice, get this offense in the Top 50 or go somewhere else where being average and below is acceptable

    where are all the MRAs?

  13. I did not see a new RB coach in there,but I firmly believe we need a need OC. Since he is also the current RB coach, I will not miss him. Unfortunately, “Matt” is too nice a guy to jettison under-performing underlings. Never once (once) have I seen him throw an assistant under the bus in one of those post-game pressers. The kids? More than a dozen times, probably closer to two dozen.

  14. Dec 22nd Boca Raton? Coincidentally I’ll be only 3 hours away that day on vacation. May pay the Owls a visit for ol’ MAC sake.

  15. Mike, I’m not at all against raising expectations, but assessing Temple’s past decision making, financial situation, fan base, etc. i just don’t expect pie in the sky results. Further, I don’t consider fixing fixable things (like coach changes) as raising expectations. Yes, things can improve but to me improvement will always have a ceiling at Temple – e.g., I don’t think Temple will ever play for a national title as some fans have excitedly expressed. The stadium situation is another example. Spending 100 million plus for only 35K seating seems absurd to me. The only real reason I see for it is to qualify for a P5 conference which seems necessary as things are developing in the college football business. But even that is chancy, there’s no guarantee it will happen even if Temple takes the stadium plunge. And then there is the notion, again based on Temple’s past, that the up we’re on right now won’t last. I know this sounds negative, but I think it’s based on being realistic. Continue this success for a few seasons and I can change my outlook.

    • When you get to the championship game, expecting to win isn’t asking for pie in the sky. I’m not saying Temple should have beaten Houston. I am saying the pie wasn’t in the sky. It was right there on the table. Houston ate it.

  16. PS: even this slight given to Temple on bowl selection indicates a lack of respect from the outside and apparently weird decision making on the part of the administration. Temple should be in a better bowl, but once again they’re getting screwed and screwing themselves all at once. Did Temple themselves raise their expectations? I think not.

    • I really like this site wish we (Houston) had one like this, and I have been following it all year, along with Navy (Temple is most like our school and Navy is the most different). I also learned some new terms such as BOT and MRA. You have a great football team, and I wish that you had a chance to knock off a P5 team, but Toledo has been getting a lot of talk and respect this year and has spent a lot of time at a high ranking. The Owls need to handle them, and from what I saw at the stadium they will.
      We lost a championship game in 2011 that kept us from the Sugar bowl (maybe due to a coach negotiating a contract with another team rather than getting his team ready). The Cougars got to play Penn St. in Dallas, your team deserves a bigger named team than Toledo, no matter how good they are. Good luck in beating them.
      About your new stadium, Houston moved back on campus about 20 years ago into an upgraded old facility and I think it was the best move ever. The original manager of the Astrodome was a Cougar and I think we were treated ok, but later managers tended to get all of the parking and concessions and did not allow tailgates.
      By being Back on campus, the students can just walk to the games, the school does not have to split the receipts from parking, food or even pay rent. They were able to rent it to a major league hockey team, whatever that is. I know that your situation is a little different, but due to your TV market, the League needs you to be successful, and so far having an on campus has benefited my team.

  17. Interesting point about the soccer. I wonder if we could entice the Philadelphia Union out of that crappy 18K stadium in Chester to be a tenant and help pay a good chunk of the, ahem, $100 million stadium. Don’t know where they came up with that figure, but all that will get you is 35K bleacher seats, no scoreboard, no press box, maybe a couple of bathrooms with a trough to pee in. expect epic lines at halftime.

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