The first time I ever heard the name Bronko Nagurski was holding the transistor radio close to my ear as a kid and listening to the great play-by-play guy, Ron Menchine, do a Temple game at Pitt.
“There’s Dynamo Hyno with the ball getting, 10, 15 yards and he’s running like Bronko Nagurski,” Menchine said. “The Pitt defenders just cannot bring him down.”
I didn’t know who Nagurski was, but I knew who Dynamo Hyno was—Temple fullback Henry Hynoski—and I knew this Nagurski guy must have been pretty good if he was being compared to Hynoski.
Now I can say the same for Nagurski and Tyler Matakevich. This Nagurski guy must have been pretty good if they are giving an award named after him to the great Temple linebacker, who I know is pretty good.
Years from now, the alumni from this team will gather around the post-game tailgates and talk about Tyler Matakevich with alumni from other eras. They will have plenty to talk about because the big story on Action News tonight is that Matakevich became the first Temple player to bring home a major award in 41 years when he was named the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Winner as the nation’s best defensive player.
It is an award well-deserved.
I had a long conversation with Tyler in Lot K the week before the UCF game and I told him the greatest thing about the Leave No Doubt motto was that UCF was a championship game, like the week before that one and the week after.
“Absolutely,” Tyler said. “We know that’s the only way we can have success.”
Then he explained the what’s the #what’snext hashtag. It was a fascinating conversation and he could not have been more gracious with his time. We talked about other things, like his visit to 97-year-old former Temple end James Woodside, but his take on turning a couple of slogans into a meaningful foundation for this season was illuminating.
I had an inkling Matakevich might win it when a story I wrote for Rant Sports.com ranking the five finalists for the Nagurski Award and putting Matakevich as No. 1 was not only liked by the official twitter account of the Charlotte Touchdown Club, but retweeted to each and every one of the voters.
I followed that up with the following chart and it was a pretty stark black and white (well, cherry and white in this case) difference between Matakevich and the competition.
The last Temple player to earn a major award was Steve Joachim, who won the Maxwell Award was the nation’s best college player. Matakevich is also up for an award from that same club called the Chuck Bednarik Award, also as the nation’s top defensive player.
I have a feeling that he’s also going to bring home that trophy as well. It could not happen to a nicer guy or a better player. Dynamo Hyno should be, and Bronko himself, who has long since left us, would have been, proud.
Tomorrow: Temple vs. Houston Photo Gallery